If you fail to plan, you plan to . . . well, we all know how that ends. Here’s how to spring into action to be sure you don’t fall into that trap.

Some people deliberately keep themselves in a perpetual state of catching their tail so they won’t have to think or plan. Many level off at a particular gross because they have made no plans to get beyond that point. Some build failure by making goals unattainable.

The first step in achieving your financial goals and business plans is to write down what you want to accomplish. Doing this will help you visualize your objectives.

Remembering my father helps me to see both the planning process and my desired objectives. He was a farmer with a degree in land management. Winter was his planning time so that once the ground temperature was right he could start planting. It is the promise of spring that as we sow so shall we reap. For each cup planted, a bushel reaped; for every good idea given to another, many shall be given to us in return. For every executed strategy and tactic, a multiplicity of rewards, and for every act of service given to patients, a life of loyalty in return.

What are you doing to prepare the fertile fields of life with seed, knowledge, commitment and a determined effort?
The following are some questions and answers that can help you establish a business plan:

1. Who am I targeting as patients? (age, gender, education level, income, lifestyle)

2. What services, benefits, and needs are most necessary and desirable to my target market? (special hours, location, diagnostic equipment) If you’re uncertain about your patients’ needs, design a patient survey that can establish this information for you. Distribute the survey to all patients in the office, and have them fill it out while in the waiting room.

3.What do I know about my competition and current environment in the ophthalmic industry? Have employees, your spouse, or friends visit or call other eyecare facilities to experience what they are doing . . . or not doing. Inquire about services, specialties and fees.

4. How much money am I willing to spend to accomplish my goals? The rule of thumb is 6% of gross income should be designated for promotion. Still, you can only spend what your budget will allow, so the trick is to get the most bang for your buck.

5. What steps should I take to make it happen? Implement and follow through with your ideas. The mere arrival of spring is no sign that things are going to look good in the fall. You must do something with the spring. In fact, everyone has to get good at one of two things‚ planting in the spring or begging in the fall.

Stretching your practice beyond $400,000 to $750,000 takes re-evaluation. Keep some of the ideas and programs that helped your practice reach this level, while redefining the purpose of your practice for continued growth.

Where are you presently? Where do you want to be? With the intelligence, wisdom and freedom of choice given to us as humans, we should exercise the discipline to plant in spite of the rocks, weeds or other obstacles before us. The rocks, weeds and thorns of the world cannot destroy all your seeds if you plant massively enough and intelligently enough. My suggestion is to choose action, not rest. Choose truth, not fantasy. Choose a smile, not a frown. Choose delighted service to those with healthcare cards and vision plans, not animosity about the low reimbursement rates, delayed payment and added paperwork.

Remember, the purpose of planning is not to produce a plan but to produce results. Albert Einstein is credited with saying that it takes more focused mental effort to solve a problem than it took random thought and labor to create the problem.

Donna Suter is president/a business coach and consultant with Suter Consulting Group ( in Chattanooga, TN.


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