Your Business Team

One key to practice success is to realize that you do not need to master every aspect of business to succeed. Draw to yourself those who have expertise in areas in which you are weak. Then learn from them and let them help in those areas. You will rest in knowing that things are being cared for well, so you can focus on helping people and growing your practice. The second team of advisors you need is your business team. They provide the financial, legal, business and administrative expertise you need to succeed. The most important ones are:

Accountant:This person is by far the most important one in this team. Your accountant makes sure you have the right legal setup, helps you set up and maintain your bookkeeping system(you can even pay them or their firm to do your bookkeeping), prepares your quarterly and annual tax returns, and is there to answer questions that inevitably arise in the course of running your practice. Good accountants can ensure that you maximize your legally-allowable tax deductions, and help your practice grow. Be sure to interview a few accountants before selecting one. Find one that has small business and medical practice experience; a corporate or personal tax accountant may not have the expertise you need. Many practices pay their accountant a monthly fee that includes unlimited advice, regular review of the books and tax return preparation.

Attorney: Most businesses use a corporate lawyer to help them create the right legal setup other than a sole proprietorship(which is essential). The field of law is even more specialized than accounting, so make sure your attorney has small business and medical experience. Practitioners starting out may find that their accountant can access most of the legal advice and services they need through the accountant’s professional team.Other types of attorneys you may need as your business grows include those who specialize in tax strategy, real estate, intellectual property (e.g. trademarks and copyrights), and estate planning.

Mentor: This is a successful practitioner in your field who can provide guidance in the business side of your practice. This need not be the same clinical mentor from your professional team, who is there for consultation and referral. Your business mentor knows your business best of all, having “been there and done that” for years. They will help you avoid common mistakes, and give you invaluable advice on the infinite subtleties of running a strong acupuncture practice.

Banker:This is the person at your bank that you work with most closely. Often this is the branch manager or a loan officer. This person will help you set up your business checking and savings accounts, acquire business loans and credit cards, and guide you through other bank-related issues. Be sure to select someone you are comfortable with, and work with them exclusively as much as possible. It is important to develop a long-term relationship with this person, especially if you need a business loan.

Practice Consultant or Marketing Advisor: These people help health professionals create strong
practices through effective office procedures, marketing and advertising plans, and staff development. They are most helpful when a practice is ready to grow to the next level, or when
a good practitioner’s practice is faltering due to lack of clear vision or follow through.

In House Staff: These people work closest with you, day to day. Included here is your
front office staff (e.g. receptionist) who interact with patients, back office staff (e.g.
bookkeeper, insurance billing person), and other practitioners you may employ. (Check with your
state association, licensing board, accountant, attorney or business mentor to find out how to legally employ other practitioners). The most important thing is to hire first-rate office staff. They are often a patient’s first contact with your office, and they can make or break a practice. Learn to
delegate, train them well, and work as a team to create a positive and peaceful office environment.

Insurance Agent: This licensed professional will help you find the best policies and rates on the
many types of insurance you will need: professional liability (malpractice), general
(office/premises) liability, health, car, life, and disability. Your employees will likely need
worker’s compensation and disability insurance. Your professional and business teams form the “immediate family” of your acupuncture practice. If that core group is strong, then the extended family of your patients will grow andthrive. Remember that business is not about business; it is about relationships. Cultivating and nourishing strong, positive relationships with people is the sure way to practice success.

Dr Michael Gaeta is a dietician-nutritionist, herbalist and acupuncturist with 31 years clinical experience in Chinese and functional medicine. He has trained 18,000 practitioners over the last 28 years, including a certification program and several online CEU courses in clinical and practice success. More at