David King, DVM, Simmons Southcentral –
One of my heroes of history, Theodore Roosevelt, once said “Speak softly but carry a big stick” and I liken that somewhat to practice ownership. There is just no substitute for carrying that ‘Big Stick.’
There are many reasons NOT to own a practice, and they are all based upon the individual. We all know that practice owners pay a high price for autonomy. You may not want to sacrifice any family time (however if this is the case you probably should have chosen another profession), or you may think you may not have the business savvy to succeed. Whatever the reason not everyone is cut out to own a veterinary business, but for those of us who are, the rewards can be great.
Being a practice owner and having that ‘Big Stick’ means you will succeed or fail on your own merit. No one can tell you what to do; he or she can only advise. This usually fits perfectly in the fiercely independent nature of the average veterinarian. There is no better personal satisfaction than to have a successful business and to know that you where solely responsible for its success.
Autonomy aside, probably the most important reason to own a practice is that the financial rewards can be great. Associates are commanding a high salary these days, but an associate has no equity in the future. As an associate, you could make $80,000 per year and save 10% annually, and at the end of 10 years you will have a nice little nest egg. However, let’s say you purchase a practice worth $500,000 and you take home the same $80,000 per year (though it would probably be more), save the same 10%, then at the end of 10 years you have the same little nest egg, but you have an asset in the form of a successful business worth probably in the neighbor of $750,000! It’s something to think about.
If one weighs all the pro and cons about the ‘Big Stick’ of practice ownership, then for most the rewards of autonomy and practice equity will far out weigh any risk or sacrifice. Knowing the risks and the rewards, I’m sure if Teddy had been a veterinarian he would still have carried that Big Stick.