Be your own boss: The perks of clinic ownership and how to get there

September 07, 2023 | 5 minute read

Blaine Zaffos

Answered by
Blaine Zaffos

Regional Business Development Officer – Veterinary Division

Bank of America Practice Solutions

Just about every day, prospective clinic owners ask me the same question: should I purchase an existing veterinary clinic or start up my own? Before answering this question for yourself, it’s important to consider your personal and professional goals and how becoming a clinic owner will help you achieve them.


Clinic ownership comes with many advantages—and the first is how lucrative it can be. To put it simply, a single-doctor practice grossing $750,000 with a profit margin of 35% could result in take-home pay of $262,500 before taxes, debt, and living expenses. This is significantly higher than an associate salary, but it only scratches the surface of the earning potential. These numbers will certainly rise as your business grows. Owning a practice is also a long-term investment that may increase your wealth. When you’re ready to retire, you might have a considerable asset to sell to the next veterinarian eager to get into ownership. It’s a good idea to discuss these ideas with your financial advisor early in your career so you can plan the best exit strategy and route to retirement.


Make your mark

While money is very important, it’s not everything. One of the most attractive reasons to own your practice is the ability to practice medicine your way. You don’t have to answer to a boss who may have a different style, or a corporation that likely has its own set of priorities that may not always align with yours. Today’s veterinary industry is rapidly changing, and doctors are increasingly wanting to go out on their own to gain the freedom to practice their own medicine.


It’s also important to consider the positive lifestyle changes of practice ownership. When you open your own business, you become a part of the fabric of your community. Once you’re established, you can dictate how you want to spend your time and run your business. Maybe you want to grow a large hospital and hire associates while serving in an owner/medical director role. Or you may want to work closely with your patients in a producing role. You can also consider additional locations, either by starting another office or acquiring a nearby practice. In the end, owning your practice means you have many options and can control your own destiny.


Getting started

The positives of owning a practice certainly outweigh the sacrifices you’ll make. However, you need to clearly understand the challenges you’ll face. Ownership will initially come with longer hours, since there’s a good chance you’ll be the only producing veterinarian in the practice. You’ll need to spend considerable time operating your business, managing your employees, and performing other key tasks. However, these duties should ease over time as you become more established.


Eventually, you can start bringing on associates to take over some production or an office manager to handle managerial duties. It’s also a smart idea to surround yourself with experts who can help you tackle these challenges successfully. For instance, an experienced CPA will help make sure your finances are on the right track, and a skilled marketing company can promote your practice and attract patients. These are only a few examples of the resources you should tap as you get your practice going.


How to take the leap of faith

Now, let’s go back to the initial question: should you purchase an existing practice or start up your own? The answer is that they’re both great options and you’ll achieve the same ownership advantages with either one. That’s why I tell my clients to explore both options simultaneously. Get in touch with a local practice broker who can keep you up to date on the listings in your area. At the same time, start working with a healthcare-specific space finder that can start showing you different office possibilities for lease.


As you navigate this process, the best way forward will become clear to you. You may find that there aren’t any practices for sale in the specific area you’re interested in, or you may find the perfect listing that you never knew was available. The same goes with searching for a lease space. You could find that space is tough to find in your area, or there could be plenty of options and this may be a quicker route to achieving practice ownership. The key is to keep an open mind and surround yourself with experts who can help you find your path.


At every stage, be sure to stay focused on your real goals: practicing medicine in the manner you’re passionate about, building wealth for you and your family, and choosing the lifestyle you want while experiencing continual growth. All of this is possible when you take the leap of becoming your own boss. Start the process as early as possible so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor in the latter years of your career. We’ve worked with numerous veterinarians only a couple of years into associating that have become practice owners and never looked back. Having a conversation with your local Bank of America Practice Solutions representative is a great place to start. We can discuss the financing offerings for first-time practice owners, connect you with industry experts, and be there for you every step of the way—up to the moment you see your first patient as an owner and throughout your career.


After working with countless first-time practice owners over the years, we do know one thing for sure: there’s nothing more exciting and rewarding than being your own boss!

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