I have really debated about taking this step. It's probably a combination of pride and a fear of misunderstanding (with a healthy dash of my other neuroses) that has made it so hard. Yeah, there may also be that y-chromosome driven aversion to asking for help that comes into play as well. I guess it's time to take this hard step.
I need your help.
The process of getting my practice has been incredibly challenging and rewarding. The growth has been very good, both in terms of patient numbers and revenue, and we are taking steps to add services to improve the quality of our care. All this we've done while creating our own record system and essentially making much of this up as we go. It's not a well-defined business model, and my approach to it using the "lean start-up" model means that we are not slaves to a business plan made a year ago. We are making decisions based on listening to our patients' response to what we do to and whether it is of value to them. This has been both invigorating and terrifying.
But there is one problem: I have earned very little for myself in the process.
This comes as no surprise to me (or anyone who has started a business). There are two main reasons for this:
- My main focus has been on building the infrastructure to have a sustainable model of care, choosing to invest profits in the the business rather than to pay myself. Hiring a new nurse recently, as well as investing in improved IT in my office will do a lot to allow me to grow in the future as well as improving our current care quality.
- I've intentionally limited our business growth so that we can maintain (or improve) the quality of the care we give. Right now we have a waiting list for over a month (which is a good thing), which could be shorter if we accepted more than 1 new family per day. The problem with doing that is that it would potentially decrease our availability for our existing patients (something they highly value) and would keep us from focusing on improving care quality.
Up to now I have done OK on managing on the little money I took from the practice, and am not certain I couldn't get through all of this without help. But the reality of having kids in college and silly things like mortgages makes me need to reach out over the internet web tube system.
Yes, I am taking a page out of the public television/radio playbook. I am asking for financial support. Many have voiced the desire to support me in what I am doing, but that y-chromosome thing (and other more reasonable things) stood in the way.
The main thing I need is time: time to build a sustainable model, time to grow at a reasonable pace, and time to put together the right team to make this work in the long-term. I don't want my personal financial needs to sabotage the business.
So I've set up a web page to raise money. Gosh I hate to do this. The address is: http://www.gofundme.com/879dts and it should make it easy for people to support our endeavor.
Before you run over there and throw money at me, let me make a few things clear:
- This does not come out of desperation. Our business is going quite well. I am just trying to think about the long-term.
- The amount of money I've set on the website ($15,000) is an estimate on what could sustain me until I think we will grow enough to give me a salary. They forced me to put a number there, though, and really any help would be appreciated.
- If I get more money than expected, I will do what I can to reinvest in the practice (once I've taken care of my family).
- My ultimate goal is to build a model others can emulate with much less stress than I have had to deal with. I talk about my vision for the practice on some new pages on my practice website: go here to read them.
- I am not offering a tote bag at a certain level of membership, although I will probably do something nice (write a llamarick, send a coffee mug, write a song, or name a star) for those who are most supportive.
- I don't need a boat.
- I do NOT expect my patients to participate in this. They have already given me something far more valuable than their money: belief in what I am doing. I already owe you folks enormously. Really.
I so appreciate all of the support everyone has given to me over the past 18 months (when I left my old practice). I really believe this type of practice could change everything. Please help me make that belief a reality.
Operators are standing by.