As recovery creeps up on the U.S. economy, small businesses—including veterinary practices—are starting to feel the pressure ease. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to go back to business as usual. At least that’s the opinion of consultant Jim Muehlhausen, CPA. He wants to help small business owners keep their cool as the economy starts to warm up, so he has narrowed down the reasons why small businesses tank during the lean times. Muehlhausen has four basic rules that can help your practice steer clear of the pitfalls of recession:
1. Focus. Pay more attention to your business model, and pay less attention to the economy. Keep your eyes on the road and not the landscape, and you’ll get where you’re going.
2. Don’t make dramatic changes. Work on the tactics already in front of you. Keep moving and keep working at the tasks that have traditionally helped your practice succeed and don’t count on those wealthy check-writing clients or some other source of instant salvation.
3. Stop fretting. This is a terrific time to tune up your practice operations and make large time investments in products or services you just didn’t have time for when times were good. Rather than wasting time on activities aimed at making things better right now, focus on two years from now. This will help you get ahead.
4. Merge with a competitor. Now is a great time to buy out a colleague. Rolling another practice into yours can add valuable employees at bargain prices.
The bad economy has hit businesses with weak business models much harder than those with solid models, Muehlhausen says. If the economy has hit you hard, it’s not bad karma. It’s a sign that you need to work on your practice from a business standpoint.
Muehlhausen says that decisions made out of panic and anxiety are rarely if ever the right ones. The bottom line: Don’t let fear affect you and your business decisions.