The Lonely Physio Clinic Owner. 

Reflecting on my own experiences, I can finally acknowledge how difficult physiotherapy clinic ownership really is.  You learn so much from the school of hard knocks, things you could never imagine back in your university days.  So, I thought that a blog dedicated to sharing personal ownership experiences could prove useful to both current and aspiring physio-entrepreneurs.  

Pigeonholed as the Bad Guy.

When starting my first clinic, I was naive about the business relationship (i.e. owner-employee) side of things.  As a pleasant person with good intentions, I naturally felt that people would gravitate to my thinking, my way of doing things.  Obviously, I would be much better than clinic owners elsewhere, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, I wasn't very successful in finding the right balance.   

In the beginning, I was too accommodating to employees, allowing them great flexibility with hours and holidays.  Soon enough, this adversely affected my clinic's profitability, which stressed me out.  It was plain to see that things had to change.

Later on, I ended up too strict, which led to increased isolation, turning me into an outsider at my own staff meetings.  As before, I continued to speak to employees with respect, and show compassion in special situations.  However, I drew a hard line more often, which meant saying 'NO' to more requests.   I tried not to behave like a jerk, but gradually accepted that being tough was simply the price for being a successful physio clinic owner.

“Ben, I’ve found a job elsewhere.”

Of course, there were consequences to my behaviour, foremost of which was higher employee turnover.  Replacing staff is a very expensive proposition, and I learned the hard way that it's much better to keep current employees happy and motivated to perform.

Imagine this, you’ve worked really hard on the physio business for six months, doing everything possible to get it working at an optimal rate.  You spend many months training staff, but all of a sudden, two experienced physiotherapists inform you, “I’ve found another job.”.

Bloody stressful!  How am I going to find two quality staff in such a short time?

Employees don't really think about your business when making career decisions, and you’re on your own when it comes to revamping your staff.

A Balancing Act at Home.

In general, it's a bad habit to let your work issues dominate the home front.  Understandably, there are work stresses on your mind, but you need to manage them so that it doesn't stress out your partner and adversely affect your relationship.  Good reasons to find an experienced business mentor, someone who can help you manage difficult work situations.

At the same time, it's good to have a person at home willing to help out - discuss issues, and offer second opinions.  All the while acknowledging that for every agreement, you may receive contrary opinions that may upset you.  

I’m very lucky, in that I have a  great wife who is very helpful and a strong pillar of support.  Why not have someone tell you on occasion that you are doing a splendid job!  

How Am I Going to Fix This Situation?

Whenever issues arrive at the clinic, employees instinctively look to the owner for leadership and problem-solving prowess. 

Sure, it's a  job for the boss, but more often than not, my first thoughts were:

“What the f%#@ am I going to do here?”


“I wish this happened last week, I’m really tired today.”

I remember one time when the clinic's hot water service blew up at 6:30pm.  The receptionists told me that water was going everywhere!

I raced to the clinic, and everyone asked, “What should we do about the patients booked in tomorrow?”  I was really stressed out by the imminent cost of repairs, patient fees losses, and wages I would still need to pay my practitioners if I had to temporarily close the clinic.

I certainly didn't feel like a leader that day, if anything I felt sorry for myself.  In these situations, employees can leave and go home, but owners are left to clean up late into the night, hoping that the clinic would be ready for operation tomorrow.


I hope that sharing some of my personal experiences as a physiotherapy clinic owner doesn't scare you away.  Actually, I really enjoy business, and it has been a great journey that I wouldn't change it for anything.  

That being said, if I could go back in time I would offer the following advice to my previous self:

A) Toughen up buddy!

B) Your staff isn't going to like you, but that's okay.

C) You need to assert yourself as the boss, no questions asked.

D) Handle situations in the best way you know how.

E) Accept that you will make mistakes, nobody is perfect.

What do you think?  Please leave your comments below.

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