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The Importance of a Business Plan at Any Stage of Your Career

By: Fred Buck

You may have created a business plan when you first started your practice. After all, it can be an essential document for communicating your goals, providing beneficial information to potential lenders to provide financing, and recruiting new associates and employees.

But did you know a business plan can be an invaluable tool throughout your career? As you continue to evolve your practice, your business plan may be one tool that can help persuade others to assist you in achieving the big-picture vision for your practice, and ensure you stay on track with your long-term objectives.

Remember that your business plan is used to define the purpose and direction of your practice. Basically, the business plan:

  • Provides a clear statement of your mission and vision,
  • Outlines who you are, and what your purpose and goals are, and
  • Defines how you plan to move your business forward.

In general, most business plans include the following information:

  • Management overview - the roles and responsibilities of your team members
  • Clients (prospective audience) - who you see as the primary patient base for your practice¬†
  • Product/service description - the exact services and products you intend to offer
  • Marketing plan - a description of how you will promote your business to potential patients
  • Financials - a three- to five-year projection of revenues and expenditures

By keeping this document refreshed over the years to accurately reflect your current situation and needs, you may be better prepared to face the many challenges of practice ownership and management. Here are five important ways a regularly updated business plan may serve you:

  1. May help confirm the viability of your business. Let's say you need financing for an upgrade, redesign or expansion project for your practice. The financials included in your business plan - tax returns, profit and loss statements, etc. - can show that you have met your original targets for your practice and are on track for continued growth. This helps to establish the viability of your practice and demonstrate your credit worthiness, which are critical factors in determining the amount of funding that may be available to you.
  2. Guides your business through difficult times. The vision outlined in your business plan may serve as an anchor to help you and your staff stay focused on long-term goals during challenging periods. For example, during a down market you might be tempted to purchase second-tier tools as a money saving measure. However, if your vision is to be the most technologically advanced practice in the local area, then you might recognize this move as a potentially poor investment that may ultimately undermine your brand. You may then choose to find the funding you need to support you through this period, or update your business plan to reflect the changes in your brand and business.
  3. Defines values in the workplace. A thorough business plan typically includes a statement of your values - for example, "we seek to create a friendly and happy environment for all our patients." Defining your values can be important for building and maintaining the work environment you truly want. As you face challenging decisions related to personnel issues or business opportunities, you can look to the values outlined in your business plan as a guidepost for informing those decisions. It's easy to get bogged down in the minutia of payroll and performance reviews -- but the values statement in your business plan may help you remember the bigger picture when making impactful operational assessments.
  4. Provides a benchmark for evaluating progress. Your business plan may be a useful management tool for ensuring your practice is staying on track with performance targets. The projected monthly sales and operational expenses detailed in your business plan provide specific goals to reach for and benchmarks for measuring your progress. Realistic performance goals allow you to plan future expenditures for your practice, such as adding an associate or a new operatory. It's therefore important to update your business plan regularly to ensure that your goals continue to be realistic based on your current operation.
  5. Prepares you for market changes and trends. A well thought-out business plan takes into account the surrounding market and competitive environment, and how these might impact the success of your business. Periodically reassessing the market you work within may better prepare you to react to demographic changes or take advantage of new trends. Your business plan provides the foundation for staying abreast of these changes so you may respond in a timely fashion.

So don't just create a business plan at the start of your practice, and then file it away. Think of it as a "living document" that may support your vision and objectives throughout your career. You can use your business plan as a reference as you face the challenges of practice ownership and management.

About the Author

Fred Buck is the Regional Manager West for Wells Fargo Practice Finance. As an experienced consultant and finance professional, he speaks nationally to healthcare professionals advising in practice planning strategies for emerging and established practitioners. His industry background offers practitioners a unique perspective as they approach some of the most important decisions in their professional lives. With more than 25 years of healthcare experience, Wells Fargo Practice Finance specializes in helping healthcare professionals acquire, start and expand their practices with various financing options and a signature Practice Success Program. You can contact him at fred.buck@wellsfargo.com or 800-861-5984

View all articles by Fred Buck


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Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

ADA® is a registered trademark of the American Dental Association. ADA Member Advantage is a service mark of the American Dental Association. ADA Member Advantage is a program brought to you by ADA Business Enterprises, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

ADA® is a registered trademark of the American Dental Association. ADA Member Advantage is a service mark of the American Dental Association. ADA Member Advantage is a program brought to you by ADA Business Enterprises, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

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