This is not a sales pitch. This is an explanation of how the “My Practice Plan” course has been received by students and what they’ve learned from it, and perhaps an exploration of whether the course might be appropriate for you. We only want people in the course who will dramatically benefit from the course. I don’t want to “sell” any training to any practitioner unless it is the right course for the right person at the right time. And in turn, I strive to deliver double the value of the course to all students. Ask any student who has ever taken any Kalish Institute course, and I think you’ll find we live up to this goal 99% of the time.
We, as a group of Functional Medicine practitioners, are in some ways very similar and predictable. We are not money-oriented; we want to help relieve human suffering, not bill people for a bunch of supplements. We are people-centric; we want to offer everything we can to everyone we can without regard to whether it makes basic economic sense or not. We don’t want to get involved in “sales” or “marketing.” We are, and I include myself in this, healers. We are in service. We are here to help, not to charge and sell.
However, and this is a big however, we live (at least for this life) in a capitalist, materialist culture—one that is perhaps the most materialist culture ever seen on the planet. Everything we do, everywhere we go, everything revolves around money and commerce. Food isn’t grown at home; we buy it. Water isn’t drawn from a well; we pay for it. Even entertainment we usually pay for—whether it’s a movie or a play or a music concert. We, as healers, are then in this impossible situation where we have to charge for our services and run a small business in order to help people. Gone are the days of a simple hut and the patient brings you a chicken for your services.
However, and this is a smaller however, we can structure our lives so that the business and the practice serve us and serve our mission to help relieve chronic illness. Most practitioners do the opposite and find themselves tied to and burned out by the money aspects of running a practice. When I see a practitioner burning out because of poor business management, I draw the line and say, “get some help.” Being burned out and stressed is going to decrease your ability to help people over the long-term, so if it comes to that, your life mission is undermined, and the whole idea of healing others falls away.
Every single MD I have worked with, every chiropractor, NP, Lac, and DO, has come to the same conclusion: developing practice management skills to increase profitability and income also results in freeing up the time needed for basic self-care, which we expect all our patients to do, which we write on prescription pads, but which we (too) often don’t do ourselves. To me, that is one hour or more a day for meditation or spiritual practice, one hour a day for exercise and the time needed to shop for and prepare healthy food. And if you really want a decent life, you can add to that list extra time with family and loved ones.
I’ve never trained a healthcare provider who went on to make millions and millions of dollars. That’s not the point. The point is to have a business that supports you financially so you can fulfill your life mission. In that light, let’s look at the most common mistakes I see people make.
Common mistake #1: overspending on overhead. This one is easy to avoid. We teach you how to set up a low overhead practice. It’s not always obvious. Example: we have a Harvard-trained MD who was about to spend $5,000 (borrowed) on upgrading floors in her new clinic. I only mention Harvard to clarify that she is clearly a very intelligent and accomplished person. She was just making an extremely poor business decision because she had zero business training. Patients don’t care if you have fancy floors, they really don’t. This simple piece of advice paid for the entire tuition of the My Practice Plan course!
Another example: we have an amazing doctor from one of the 2017 classes who was about to spend, you guessed it, $5,000 on professional quality video for the home page of her new website. Instead, in class, we did an exercise where she recorded the video from her iPhone for free and we watched it in class, and I, and several others, literally started crying. It was so heartfelt and so authentic; she was just speaking her truth. And guess what, she’s using that video instead of hiring a professional camera crew and going into a studio. Patients don’t want pro-quality video with make-up and great lighting. They want to know who you are as a person, a real person and a real practitioner, not something adulterated or made to look nice. Again, this one change paid for the course while she was in the first month of the course.
Another common mistake is under billing, i.e., setting your hourly rate far too low. Generally, this is done because people don’t run the numbers on the entire picture of what it will cost to run the business. Once we go through our financial planning module in the course, you’ll see how your income and expenses balance out, and what you’ll need to do in terms of hours worked and hourly rate to make the business model you choose work. If the first version doesn’t work (and it never does), you’ll either need to decrease expenses or increase your fees or add alternative sources of income.
I know in real estate, they say the top three variables in home valuation are 1) location; 2) location; and 3) location. Well, in setting up and running a successful Functional Medicine practice, it is 1) business planning; 2) financial planning; and 3) operational planning. Just planning, planning, and more planning. Through rigorous planning, you can create model after model, and see what works on paper before committing a penny to anything. We find most practitioners need at least three versions of a business plan before they settle on something that works for them. In reality, without taking a course like My Practice Plan, you likely won’t create a business plan or financial plan at all, and you’ll walk into a buzz saw of financial misery that could have been avoided. If you are a self-motivated hyper-planner and already have everything planned out, then you certainly don’t need this course.
If you want to start a new Functional Medicine practice, and are wondering if it’s even viable, or if you are in a practice that needs some financial or business planning TLC, then please check out our offerings and see if they are a good fit for you. The modules I teach revolve around business and financial planning; sales, marketing, and patient education; operations; and legal strategy. It’s a great course for the right person at the right time.
If you are interested in signing up, the best way to verify what I have said above is to speak to an IFM member or faculty person who has already taken the course and see if they think it’s a good fit for you.