The CEO model of practice is really just a mindset. It is a way of thinking about your practice as a separate business. It encourages optometrists who own their own practices to think of themselves as CEOs of a small business and not as a doctor who sees patients. Of course, in reality and to some extent, most OD owners will continue to see patients some of the time, but the CEO model implies that he or she would not have to see patients. Other optometrists could be employed to see patients. The degree to which the OD works as an OD can change throughout one’s career.
I believe this CEO mindset is extremely helpful in building a successful practice. Optometrists who can embrace business principles become better leaders for their organizations. The ground-breaking publication on this concept is “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber, which can be an epiphany of sorts for any small business owner. The “E” in the title stands for entrepreneur.
The E-Myth Revisited
My favorite part of the book is this passage:
“The Fatal Assumption is: if you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does technical work. And the reason it’s fatal is that it just isn’t true. In fact, it’s the root cause of most small business failures! The technical work of a business and a business that does technical work are two totally different things!
“The carpenter becomes a contractor, the hairdresser starts a beauty salon, the engineer goes into the semiconductor business and the musician opens a music store. Rather than being their greatest single asset, knowing the technical work of their business becomes their greatest single liability. For if the technician didn’t know how to do the technical work of the business, he would have to learn how to get it done. He would be forced to learn how to make the business work, rather than to do the work himself.”
Think like a CEO
To help you to look at your practice as a business, ask yourself this question: If you could no longer see patients yourself, but you still came into your office every day, what would you do?
Here is a list of possible answers:
• Review and observe processes and procedures
• Buy products smarter; work with suppliers and labs
• Manage and train staff
• Implement marketing projects
• Build patient loyalty
• Develop referral sources
• Monitor expenses and compare to norms
• Improve technology systems
These tasks can be converted to the following subjects that are all courses found in business school:
• Strategic planning
• Business operations
• Human resources
• Organizational behavior
• Accounting and finance
• Information technology
Start your new approach to the business of optometry by devoting at least one day per week to practice administration. Organize your management work into the topics listed above and become self-educated in these areas.