by Dr. Tania Howard | Featured Contributor
Let me be clear. I am a doctor, not an accountant or financier. Nor do I have my MBA.
What I do have is this: Over two decades of successful, small business ownership under my belt, a healthy retirement account, and college savings plans for both my daughters. Not to mention sound sleep every night.
Do you want to know my secret for financial success in business?
Don’t spend more than you make.
Pretty profound, huh? You would think it profound, based on the number of small-businesses that fail in the first year. Come to think of it, that rule applies to home economics as well, doesn’t it? The average American is $225,000 in debt, and many have less than $500 in savings, according to a recent report by GoBankingRates.
If you don’t have your personal finances in order, you quite likely won’t have your business monies flowing in the right direction, either.
When I graduated from chiropractic school in 1991, I was incredibly anxious to start my own practice. I was also incredibly anxious (and not in a good way) about the nearly $100,000 of educational debt that was necessary to finance my eight years of higher education. I’m sure that if you are reading this you have a similar story, or know someone who does.
What’s a girl to do?
Here’s what this girl did.
I worked hard for a successful doctor during my first year, catching my breath and polishing my skills. I learned a lot at his knee, not so much about being a doctor (I felt very confident in my skills) but about operating a lean, mean profitable machine.
When it came time to leave the nest, I knew I needed to be resourceful. Keeping my costs low, at least at first, was going to give me the best chance. That’s why my first practice cost me less than $1,000 to open. I talked the landlord out of a security deposit and into a first-month’s free rent, with a guaranteed 3-year lease. Next, I bartered with a flooring company, providing the owner with free care for office carpeting. I invested in two basic treatment tables and one prominent roadside sign. My opening office supply order consisted of paper appointment and accounting books, a 1-line telephone, a few pens, and a ream of paper for notes. That’s it!
My classmates-turned-colleagues shook their heads at me, as they consulted with designers, architects and top-of-the-line equipment manufacturers. I could hear their large staff answering their multi-line phones, even over the background of piped-in music to their nicely lit, custom-built offices.
I laughed all the way to the bank. Literally.
While they took on large amounts of additional debt to build the office of their dreams, I made a profit my very first month, and haven’t looked back since.
In the years following, many of these colleagues boasted princely collection sums, but cringed when I asked them what their overhead was, and how much they were netting at the end of each month.
With every conversation, I was more and more thankful for my bootstrapping mentality.
My advice to any aspiring business owner? Start and stay lean! Don’t buy it if you can’t afford to pay cash for it. You know that money doesn’t buy taste, right? Nor does it buy panache. Though you may think that it looks more successful to have the best of everything, nothing will pop that bubble more quickly than a business that fails before it even gets off the ground, or the stress of constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Provide the best services and products to your consumers and they will come back and refer in droves.
That, my friends, is the dollars and sense of business ownership.
Dr. Tania Howard – Health and Wellness Guru – www.drtania.com Annapolis, MD
Dr. Tania decided to become a chiropractor at age 15 when she experienced a complete metamorphosis in her health through chiropractic. She completed her undergraduate work at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and doctorate at Life Chiropractic College in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the founding partner of Broadneck Family Chiropractic, where she has practiced for over 20 years with two amazing partners who make it possible for her to take her message ‘on the road’.
Hollywood called, and she enjoys providing care on movie sets and behind the scenes at live performances. She’s been profiled in Washington Post Magazine and many trade publications, and has done extensive postgraduate work in prenatal and pediatric chiropractic, nutrition, exercise, and family wellness. A chiropractic lifestyle has helped her to stay fit enough to become a triathlete at the age of 40! She lives in Maryland with her three true loves, husband Braden and daughters Francesca and Julia.
The advice and guidance Dr. Tania has given her patients has been written, filmed, and boiled down to be informative, yet entertaining. There is a LOT of good health information available online, but most of it is, excuse us, BORING! Conversely, there are so many entertaining lifestyle bloggers to enjoy, but few, if any, have any healthcare credentials. She fancies herself a “Dr. Oz meets Bethenny Frankel” hybrid, and it’s our intention that Drtania.com will bring good, solid health and wellness advice from an “every girl” perspective, to it’s readers.