Article Date: 2/1/2009

When Big Business Fails, it's Time For The Entrepreneurs
o.d. to o.d.

When Big Business Fails, it's Time For The Entrepreneurs

Optometrists are positioning their practices to survive the short-term economic challenges and be prepared for recovery.

BY WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Chief Optometric Editor

Through the past 20 years, 78% of all new jobs in the United States were created by small businesses, not major corporations, indicates the Small Business Administration. Individual entre-preneurial ventures now account for more than 50% of the economy of the United States.

That's why I think the mountains of money our government is giving to banks and automobile companies, among others, in the form of "bailouts" won't get our economy moving upward. Yes, I think the bailouts may prevent the economy from sinking lower, but they're not going to move it upward.

The individual solution

So what will move our economy upward again? What will generate the new jobs and pay the high wages? Entrepreneurs. It will be the entrepreneurs, those who have been quietly transforming our economy since the 1980s, who will lead the economy to recovery. It does seem interesting, doesn't it, that the large investment firms, car makers and banks — with all their financial insights — put us all in financial crisis. They did it using our money, and now it's the individuals — the entrepreneurs — who will carry them out of the mess they created.

We have learned from examples around the world that what stimulates entrepreneurial activity isn't government spending or centralized economic planning, but lower taxes, less government regulation and a free market economy.

It's time to prepare our next generation of entrepreneurs in optometry. Now is not the time to put fear in the minds of today's new graduates about their economic futures. It's time to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurial optometrists. It's critical that we create opportunities for a large number of new, high-paying positions in optometry for the practices of the 21st century.

Help for young and old alike

The large majority of optometrists are small-business owners, and it's critical for organized optometry to focus on our new graduates' needs and assist senior practitioners in maintaining the value of their practices, not only for themselves, but for future generations of optometrists as well. Small, local businesses, such as optometric practices, give generously to charity and local initiatives. In a recent American Express survey, three-quarters of small-business owners said they donate a percentage of their profits to charities.

While this recession is bad and may be the worst our country has seen in more than a decade, for entrepreneurs there is no indication that it is any worse than the last two deep recessions experienced in the past 50 years.

Most private practitioners are approaching these tough times prudently and with a watchful eye. Optometric entrepreneurs realize they must get back to the basics — review and in some cases, revise their business plans to ensure the success and future of their practices. The entrepreneurial optometrists are focusing on their cash flow, cutting overhead expenses and reducing their inventories. Through these efforts, entrepreneurial optometrists are positioning their practices to survive the short-term economic challenges and be ready to grow as soon as the recovery arrives. OM



Optometric Management, Issue: February 2009