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The Break Even Point

on April 9th, 2008 | Filed under Optoblog

The Independent Urologist has an excellent post about surviving your first 1-2 years of private practice, should you be insane enough to try. I think he makes a great point, you need much more money in working capitol than capitol equipment. That was part of my problem, I ran out of money, had to get a job 4 days a week outside the practice just to pay the bills, and that left much less time available to grow my own practice.

My financing company wouldn’t give me very much money as working capitol. They capped it as a percentage of the total loan. You’ll note that a urologist has less equipment costs than an optometrist with an optical. If I were to do it again, I would find out all the companies like Altair that give you frames on consignment. I also wouldn’t buy fancy digital phoropters and Officemate Exam Writer. I would go cheap as possible on everything- bootstrap. That’s the only way you’ll survive until the break even point.

And I wouldn’t hire a practice consultant that takes $13,000 of your borrowed money either. Practice consultants will make you think that if you build it, they will come. It’s pretty expensive flavor-aid to be drinking. You’ll get all the information you need from internet searches and free resources like the Management and Business Academy. Also, a good buying group like C&E Vision has excellent resources to help you see what numbers you should be putting up.

By the way, did you know Wal-Mart docs have the Optometric Business Academy? I hope that you didn’t really think that vendors (like Ciba, Essilor, Topcon, and Transitions) only look out for private practice docs.

Also the IU notes that while he now has a positive cash flow, he estimates that he has lost ~$200,000 in income by starting up his own practice. If you start off practicing in Wal-Mart, then you have income from the get-go. I know of doctors working for other optometrists for ~$50-60K pre tax salary for a few years with the hope of buying into the practice. Even if they are allowed to eventually buy in, what about all the income lost? They could have been making $120K+ pre tax net while working with Wal-Mart.

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