The wonderful world of social media has given us lots of great things. Wait, wait! Don’t go! Hear me out . . .
It’s given me the gift of being able to connect with veterinary professionals and students from all over. I get to hear their stories, and share mine in return. This exchange has given us all some needed doses of perspective.
And it’s also pretty fun!
I recently connected with a pre-vet student on Instagram. She’s working at a veterinary clinic while she completes her undergraduate coursework, and she is always looking for learning opportunities. When I commented on a rescue group’s post about a medical case they have she followed up with me, asking great questions about the clinical signs, causes, and treatments for the illness.
I loved her intellectual curiosity! So when she asked to interview me for an assignment, I was thrilled to help out.
The questions were very thought-provoking. (Maybe I should’ve done this little exercise before I went and opened a veterinary practice? Ha ha!!) They were so good that I thought I would share the interview here in case someone else can benefit. I know I sure did 🙂
1. What advice do you have for an entrepreneur looking to open a veterinary practice?
Get lots of different job experiences! I’ve worked in vaccine clinics, a corporate clinic, and a privately owned clinic. All of these are run very differently, but have lots of similarities, too. It’s so nice to have these varied jobs to give me perspective on different aspects of the business. I can always find things that each place does well, and things that they could improve on!
2. What challenges did you initially face when starting this business?
An owner who made the sale very, very difficult. I’ll be paying my lawyer for a long time . . .
Heaps of paperwork
DEA and California veterinary board licensing
Getting a loan company to take a chance on me (Pro tip: don’t get discouraged when the first 3 or 4 banks decline to fund you 🙂
3. What were some early milestones for the business?
Firing someone. (My first real hire. Necessary but not fun.)
Surpassing my new client per month benchmark and other KPIs
4. How did you finance the business during its start-up phase?
Some cash, including retirement funds
Loan through the Small Business Administration
5. How long did it take to reach profitability?
Ummmmm . . . I think I’m there?? I took over the practice August 1 and got to a break-even point in February. I’m very proud that we have maintained and even grown a little even in the face of a pandemic!
6. Did you have any back-up plans in place, in case the business experienced hardship?
I think we’re experiencing this right now! I’m so pleased that we were able to get a Paycheck Protection Program loan through the SBA. That money is making a real difference and providing a safety net for us in the coming months. Prior to this, our backup plan was simply to infuse with the business with our personal funds if necessary,
7. If you went back in time, would you have done anything differently?
If yes, what would be different?
I probably would have had more capital when we started. I underestimated how much equipment would need to be purchased or replaced. The previous veterinarian had owned the practice for over 30 years and a lot of the things there were just about that old! I also would have liked to have more money for advertising and promotional materials. I love a good marketing campaign!
I hope this information is helpful to anyone who is considering buying or starting a veterinary practice. If you have any other questions, drop a comment here, email me, or message me on social!