Is partnership a good idea?
By Chad Fleming, O.D., AOAExcelTM Business & Career Coach
The highest-paid optometrists are those who are in a nonsolo optometrist practice, according to AOA research. Being in practice with other doctors is financially beneficial, but does it make sense for other reasons? A successful partnership can lighten the mental and physical load of the day-to-day operations of optometric business. Duties that include staff management, errand running, accounting, Internet technology and the like can all be divided among the partners. A cord of three strands is not easily broken, thus a partnership with three motivated and business-savvy doctors is a sure success. So why would anyone want to venture owning a business alone?
There are numerous advantages and disadvantages of a partnership. Personally, I have had a successful partnership and would recommend the partnership route for most anyone. If you are considering a partner, here are a couple of things for you to think about:
- They allow each of the doctors to share their expertise, skills and knowledge in areas outside of clinical care. This could include, but is not limited to, Internet technology, personnel management, accounting and negotiation skills.
- Business risk is inevitable; however, a partnership can spread the risk among partners.
- Partners provide social, emotional and physical support that allows for a healthier lifestyle.
- Two or three individuals, in theory, can drive more revenue than a single individual. This is through economies of scale.
- Expenses are shared among partners.
- Partners, like spouses, do not always agree on everything. One or two major disagreements could lead to detrimental outcomes for the health of the business.
- Partners are liable for each other's decisions and actions, including hiring and firing, borrowing money, business operations and many more.
- Like marriage, it is almost a guarantee there will be fights and quarrels that can lead to high stress and an unpleasant work environment.
- When partnerships break up, things get messy. Similar to divorce having a strong impact on children, a practice breaking up has a negative impact on patient care.
- Profits are divided among partners.
There are many other advantages and disadvantages of partnerships. The previous list begins the process of evaluating if a partnership is right for you. Many optometrists head into partnerships like the young and "in love" teenager, acting out their feelings before processing the impact of the decisions. Be diligent in counting the costs before going into a partnership.