• Start a Private Practice on a ShoeString Budget- A candid look inside the mind of serial entrepreneur Sameer Kumar Esq


    solve the mystery Joe:
    Hey everyone, this is Doctor Joe Simon from the private practice business academy. On the call with me today is a good friend and associate Sameer Kumar esquire. So Sameer is on the call with us today, and he is basically going to chat with us. We are going to have a conversation about how to start a business the correct way. He is obviously a lawyer, and he started his own practice as a lawyer, but on a shoestring budget. We are going to go back and forth and discuss different techniques we have both used in our lives starting multiple practices that have generated over six figure incomes but basically started with nothing. So Sameer, great to have you on the phone. Let’s get started man. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

    Sameer: What’s happening Joe. Before we even get started I have to point out the irony of this call. The fact that you have two Indian guys talking about how to be cheap with your practice, I think that’s pretty stereotypical.

    Joe: I think it will resonate with a lot of my community, which happens to be medical professionals. So they might find this very comical and they will find it very beneficial.

    Sameer: Dude, I’m all about being cheap. But I’m also about doing it in such a way that you don’t hurt yourself. So a quick history. I started my law practice back in 2001. It was an immigration law practice, and started on September 5th 2001. Everyone knows a few days later the world of immigration really changed. Just like anyone else I hustled a lot, I did pretty well, I worked crazy hours and then around 2005, 2006 I tried to figure out how to really cut downy the number o fours I was working. But I wanted to maintain the income I was making. I actually wanted to make more. So I started learning about a couple of things which I know we will talk about today. But to simplify it, it was about automating your law practice, about systemizing things you do more than once, about outsourcing, and one thing you and I both love, which is effective marketing. But as far as starting the practice there was a lot of stuff I spent a lot of money on. A lot of overhead. I wouldn’t do it again. I actually changed it. Now my practice is completely virtual. Pick my brain and I will pick yours. We will put out some good stuff here.

    Joe: Absolutely. Basically, just to put it out there for both of our sets of listeners, this is going to Sameer’s audience is well – I want to introduce myself to Sameer’s audience so they know who I am. I am trained as a physical therapist, a doctor of physical therapy. I graduated back in 2001. I did the thing that most physical therapists do. I basically said, ‘I need to get a job immediately after college to pay back my student loans’. The first thing you’re thinking is that the one beauty about being a physical therapist is that we can get a job almost anywhere, but the downside of it is that you are going to be pigeonholed doing the same thing for about the next 10 to 20 years treating maybe 20 to 40 patients a day depending on where you work. Sometimes you worked for some great people and you thought it was great, and sometimes you worked for absolute idiots. The latter is more true for me. I have worked for some great people, but some people that completely pissed me off. Then I realized that I had more of an entrepreneurial drive than most of my associates, and honestly, in the medical community there were not that many entrepreneurs when I first started. Alright? We had the insurance companies that determined what we would get paid, and that was basically it. When I started my journey about eight years ago as an entrepreneur I made thousands of mistakes. I started my own practice. I kept my day job, obviously, because I had bills to pay, I had rent to pay, and I was still young enough where I wanted to go out and enjoy life. So my biggest goal as an entrepreneur at that time was just to make enough money to pay for my vacations, pay for maybe the little extra comforts of life, but soon realized I could make a better living as an entrepreneur doing my own practice than working for someone else.

    Sameer: You didn’t really paint a bleak picture at all. You were like, ‘Listen, I’m just trying to make money for vacations and partying’. God, most people are trying to pay the bills.

    Joe: You’re absolutely right.

    Sameer: I have to ask you something Joe. I know this happens in the legal profession and there’s a lot of overlap. It seems to be the same thing. A lot of people work for someone else. They work for a big corporation. In your case they work for a PT practice. I lot of lawyers I know, they burn out. They are like, ‘Listen, I’m dying to do something on my own. I hate working for someone else. I want to get started’. Then boom, there is this massive inertia. I know in the legal profession it’s like, ‘Wow, I’m making so much money here but I’m working 120 hours a week. But I can’t leave it because I don’t know if I’m going to make the money. But at the same time I am going to die if I stay here’.

    Joe: You know what, you are 100% correct. In the medical world, and I say medical because this goes true for the majority of my audience, which happens to be physicians, dentists, physical therapists, it’s basically all the same. We are so addicted to the fact that – it’s good money, don’t get me wrong. We make good money for the more people we see, but if you work for somebody else he or she is basically telling you, ‘You need to see more people so I can pay the bills and obviously pay your salary’. They don’t care how many people you see. If you see 20, 40, 50 people, it doesn’t matter. Of course, the more people you see the better it is for them, but then that burnout factor really kicks in. You’re absolutely right. That did happen to me. Obviously I didn’t paint a very bleak picture because at the time, like I said, you’re making good money. You just need a little bit extra. It’s like, ‘I will just do this on the side’. But once you start realizing, ‘OK, I’m burning out’. Obviously as physical therapists we’re using our hands, we’re using our bodies a lot, we’re not sitting behind a desk. So our life span – we call it the lifespan of your hands or your back or whatever body part wears out first, is not that long. It depends on what type of therapist you are or what type of health care professional you are, but that time frame is about ten years. For dentists, their lower backs give out. For podiatrists, their lower backs as well; physical therapist, obviously their hands. It’s a ten year time frame that slowly the body breaks down. You think, ‘I have to figure something else out.’

    Sameer: Alright, so the lawyers on this call are really lucky because we can go as long as we can sit. So we’re good to go. So let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Let’s take it from the perspective of, ‘I’m in corporate’, or ‘I’m working for a medical practice. I want to get out, I want to start my practice, but it’s going to cost me a ton of money’. The one thing I want to throw out there to every listener, both yours and mine, is that you might be wondering right now, ‘Hey, you got a lawyer, you got a guy who has a PT practice. Why the hell should I listen to one or the other because I have a PT practice or I have a law practice?’ Here’s the thing that I think me and Joe leaned really early on in our marketing. It doesn’t matter where the ideas come from. If they are good ideas and you can take them and you can apply them to your own business, you can make a ton of money. I know I talk about the good drive through. People say, ‘Oh, well that’s for fast food’. No, it’s for dry cleaners, it’s for pharmacies, it’s for restaurants. All of these have drive-thru’s. It’s just one idea the transcends all industries. With that said, let’s talk about being cheap bro.

    Joe: It’s a great analogy, by the way. I’m definitely going to steal that from you and use that again and again.

    Sameer: I got a copyright bro. Copyright.
    Joe: Great analogy. So let’s talk about being cheap. I don’t want to say cheap, I want to say that it’s being smart. There’s two ways to think about it. In the beginning, when you first start off, and I recommend this to everyone: do not quit your day job. If you have a day job and you are working for someone else right now, that’s fine.

    Sameer: I absolutely agree with that. If you can funnel money from your day job into starting your own practice I think that’s a great way to do it.

    Joe: Absolutely that’s a great way to do it. Also, everyone has that fear. Everyone is afraid, what if I fail? That’s a normal fear to have, and frankly I want you to fail. I want you to fail very fast and say, ‘OK, I made a mistake. Let me fix it and let’s move on’. It’s always good to have that day job as a back up just in case. Look, I’m going to guarantee guys, you will fail. Unless you take a lot of training ahead of time and you had a mentor, which I didn’t have at the time. I wish I had the future Joe to come back to the past Joe and have a conversation and say, ‘Hey, do this and do that’. But I didn’t have that. That’s why I’m trying to share this with you. But this is step number one that I did. I didn’t quit my day job, but what I did was I found a place. This is the number one thing. You need a place to work out of. So I couldn’t afford leasing my own space. Could not do that. But what I could do was I could sub lease a space, so I went out to almost every physician that I could meet. They always have days that they don’t use their space. It might be one day a week, it might be two days a week. I basically said, ‘Hey, can I use your office for the days that you aren’t using it?’ They might come back at you and say . . . A, they come back at you with very open arms, because now you’re basically giving them money. You’re also filling up time that that space is not being used. They are more than happy. Sometimes they say, ‘Hey, do you want the staff to come with you?’ They are not paying the staff for the days that they are not there, so if you could afford to pay the staff that’s even better. I couldn’t afford to pay the staff.

    Sameer: Alright, let’s go even cheaper. So I did the same thing. In the beginning the best advice that I got – I mean, it’s different with a law practice because it’s just a matter of being face to face with a person and being able to talk. You don’t need any equipment, etc., but I definitely employ the same philosophy. Someone said to me, ‘The worst thing you can do is work out of your home or kind of be a traveling lawyer or professional because no one takes you seriously’. Joe, this is so different than when we first started out. We started around the same time. Now they have virtual offices. I know that Regis is a big company, and here is the funny thing. This will probably change in a couple of years, but right about now they are fighting with a lot of what’s called co working spaces. They are competing in the sense of price. They are saying, ‘Hey listen, you know what, use the conference room. We have a staff at the front desk that will greet your clients. They will come on it, you’ll go to the back room, whatever it is’. I found places as cheap as five dollars for the day. Maybe 25 dollars an hour to rent a conference room. So if you have a client coming in, here’s one you could do. Schedule everyone on the same day. Pay 150 bucks for the entire day. Have them just in and out of your office coming in, and use it for the whole day. If you’re making more than what you’re paying to use the space you’re ahead of the game. So that’s another way you can be cheap. And a lot of these places have their own reception. Just say, ‘Hey listen. When my client walks in’, and this will apply to a PT practice as well, ‘When you walk in just say hey, mister Kumar or mister Simon is in the back room. Just let me lead you to it’. They don’t need to know that it’s not your office. Most of the time they don’t even care. They are just so freaked out about either their legal situation or their physical situation that they are like, ‘Alright, let me just get in there and talk to the guy’. So that’s definitely one way to cut overhead. Joe, you probably experienced this as well because you have a physical location. Rent is typically the most expensive of overhead.

    Joe: Absolutely correct with that. It’s very different from when we started. Basically, today, you could just rent out an entire office for much cheaper than what we would have gotten back then. But sub leasing is definitely a way to go. If you can’t sublease I’m sure that renting out a space like this at a day rate, which almost any healthcare practitioner could do easily for what they would get in reimbursement even if it was private pay or insurance based. All you would need to see is one patient to cover that overhead for the day, which is basically a home run. And the networking that’s involved in one of those places, you would meet so many other people that would help grow your practice.

    Sameer: One thing I want to add Joe is that we probably jumped one step ahead, and tell me if you agree with this. One of the things I always tell any professional that’s saying I want to start my own business, I say, ‘Just get a client’. Go out there and get someone that wants to hire you for whatever it is that you do, because once someone says, ‘Yeah, you know what, I’ll pay you’, and they actually pay you, then you have this fire under your ass where you’re like, ‘Holy crap! I have to get my business card. I have to get the office. I have to get my phone number. I have to get my fax line’; whatever it may be. Money in your pocket makes you hustle.

    Joe: Absolutely. The difference might be for the medical and health professionals is if they are working their regular day job, and I do not promote poaching your clients from your boss right now because A, that’s not cool. B, your boss figured out a way to get those clients to come in the front door. But if there is a client there that’s unhappy with the services they are getting at that time, obviously as the medical professional you become very close to this people. It’s almost like a trust factor. They trust you. You might be able to say, ‘Hey look, I can do this on the side privately. This is what it will cost’. You will land your first client almost immediately. But again, don’t steal clients from your current job position. That’s not cool at all. But this is one way to have your first person, and it might be a good test run to see what you’re doing.

    Sameer: I will tell you my opinion on that. I agree with you. It’s just bad ethics and bad karma if you steal clients. But on the flip side this really depends on the relationship you have with your employer, if you have an employer. Sometimes you could say, ‘Hey, listen. I’m going to start my own gig. I’m going to start my own practice’. Just be very up front. I’m not going to steal your clients, but if there are clients you want to send over to me . . . Again, this is huge ethics. You can say, ‘Hey, I’ll send your referrals back for the areas that you specialize in or if there is a referral possibility’. This is where the ethics come in. Some industries don’t allow referral fees and all that. But I believe in being open with the person. Now, the only thing you can do is you can’t steal your employer’s clients, but you can tell people that you are leaving. You can say, and let’s just say I’m working with Joe, ‘Hey, I have been working with Joe for two years. He’s a wonderful guy. i just want to let you know I have decided to start my own business and I’m going to be leaving’. That’s it. Leave it at that. If they choose to follow you, great, but this is the cusp of bending the line without breaking it.

    Joe: Absolutely. I agree with you right there. You’re absolutely correct about that. It is an ethics thing. THis is where I think health care professionals will learn from someone outside of their niche. Obviously what you were saying about referral fees and going to the employer and being very honest to the employer. Obviously the physical therapists on this call would say, ‘Oh my god, if I did that to my employer he would fire me immediately’. You’re starting your own business? Get out of here! But if you approach your employer and say hey, I’m starting my own thing. Basically I want to refer people to you and this is the niche I’m going to be in, that would be a huge undertaking. It’s a gamble. I’m not going to tell you guys that’s definitely going to work or not, but it’s an avenue to check out. With that being said, the next thing you have you understand, and this has been driven into my head for years but I never understood it: find your niche. I never understood what it meant. As a healthcare provider you say, ‘I could do everything. I could treat everything. I could help everyone’. That is the biggest mistake. If you can just narrow it down to the one thing you really like doing or the one thing you’re really good at, because if you’re stating your own thing I want you to be good at something, where people will part form their money and pay you for that service. If you’re good at something, specialize in it.

    Sameer: Finish up and then I will add a caveat to that.

    Joe: That was basically it. If you’re good in something you want to specialize in it. Be known for that one thing. I’m just pulling this out of thin air right now, but a great example is a woman’s health group in North Carolina. She basically targets only pregnant women and postpartum women only. That’s her niche. That’s it. She doesn’t treat anyone else, and you might say, ‘Well, there’s not enough money in it for me’. But trust me guys. If you can find that niche and dig deep you have hit an oil well. There will be so much business. You wouldn’t believe it.

    Sameer: That’s the same thing in the legal world. To niche it down, pick a practice area. The analogy I gave is that when your foot is hurting you go to a podiatrist. When your brain is hurting you go to a neuroscientist. You don’t want to have a brain tumor and go oh, I’ll just go to a general practitioner to handle that. So you want to get someone specific. I’m going to go through the legal fills; real estate, immigration, whether you go to criminal. You want to go to the persona that specializes. Here’s two really cool things about when you specialize. One you get recognized as an expert, and two experts make a lot more money than general practitioners. Now with that said, when you start out someone’s going to come in the door and be like, ‘Hey listen, I focus on area x’. They are like, ‘I have a problem with y. Can you handle it?’ You’re like, uh, you have money? Then come on in. I will handle it. Go ahead.

    Joe: Absolutely.

    Sameer: We have done it. My practice is an immigration practice. I would be lying if I said I didn’t do collections and I didn’t do contracts and all that stuff in the beginning. It’s only years later where people come in and say I will refer out the work. Here’s the cool thing. Joe, give me one of the areas of your specialty.

    Joe: In one of our clinics we specialize in facial paralysis.

    Speaker 2: OK, so someone comes into my office. I’m a PT. They say, ‘I have facial paralysis. What do I do?’ If I send that over to Joe there’s going to be a huge reciprocal relationship. Joe is going to be like, ‘Dude, Sameer is hooking me up. He is sending me money. This guy is a good guy. He’s not asking for anything in return’. Next time I have someone with a problem that he focuses in I will send him over to Sameer. That’s another want to grow your business. But we’re talking a lot about growing this. I think we should just bullet point ways to be cheap. What do you say bro?

    Joe: Absolutely. I agree with you. We have expanded a bit, and that happens. It’s OK. So another way to start a practice on the cheap is, look, these days, which we didn’t have back then, is obviously the internet. We didn’t have that to really catapult anything. But to get your name out there, obviously Facebook is a huge tool. You can use Facebook, you can create a blog post, you can use Google plus, all these things. Even while you’re working for your employer if you just say, ‘Hey look, I don’t even have the money to even lease out a space’. But you do have the free time now. Remember, you’re working 9 to 5. As soon as you’re done you do have that time. That’s the sweat equity you have to put in now. You can create a blog post. You can create a Facebook fan page of misc. x y z ophthalmology. You can start creating that expert status of all the great stuff that you know, your expertise. You can put it out there, and the community will find it. They will start asking for you. That might be another way to get your first client without paying for it.

    Sameer: Here’s the important thing about having this stuff on social media, because we both know there’s so much crap out there. I’m a huge proponent of education marketing. If you’re going to put something on let’s say Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, it doesn’t matter what social media avenue you use. For that matter, you could be printing in a newspaper. Put something of value. If I’m reading it and I need help with physical therapy, or I need legal help or I need medical help or I need accounting help. Whatever industry you’re in I should read what you wrote and say, ‘You know what, this guy or this gal helped me out before they asked for one red cent’. Before they said, hey, you know what, just come on in and hire me. So I’m big on the education marketing. So when you put stuff out there educate, never sell. Because when you educate they are going to see you as an expert. They are going to want to work with you over the guy or the girl next to you that just says come in and I will give you 50% off. No, they want to work with the expert. So educate. That’s a huge part of getting clients in the door. Joe, you talked a little bit about social media. I know you like it a lot. I’m fine with it, whether you want to use prints ads or direct mail. All these work if you use them effectively.

    Joe: Absolutely. In the beginning and print ads and direct mail might be a little expensive. I mean, the cheaper way to go is obviously exactly what Sameer said. Put out some great content and educational pieces. As health care professionals you’re built with that. You have all this great information the public does not know about. If you are a podiatrist and you know that using this to help relieve foot pain is the most common way that you see people help relieve their foot pain, if you just put that simple information out there you will be surprised at how many people will respond to that or even get benefit from that. Then down the road when they need help or when they say they do have foot pain or want to refer someone to you, they will contact you directly through that page, and you can set up your own private client that way. Either you go to their house, which I didn’t think about. If you are absolutely dead set against subleasing space or even renting out a location, and if you want to do a concierge type practice, which is basically showing up to their house and doing it, that’s another way that I have done it in the past as well. I have shown up to people’s houses and helped them out and used whatever I could at the time. If the money is there, if someone tells you, ‘Hey, I will pay you to show up to my house because I’m unable to leave my house or I just don’t have the time to leave’. I’m not sure if they do this in the law practice, if they actually show up to people’s houses to do this, but . . .

    Sameer: Unfortunately they do at times, and I really don’t recommend that unless you’re a personal injury lawyer and the person can’t move and there’s a million dollar verdict on the line.

    Joe: Absolutely. And if someone is knocking on your door you never know.

    Sameer: So when I put out my book these are a couple things that I went through. Some of them are still applicable. Some people ask me, ‘When I’m starting out do I need to incorporate?’ You can be a sole proprietor. You can have an LLC. You can have S corp. You can have a C corp. I always say there are two things you look at. You look at the legal aspect if someone sues you and you look at the accounting aspect as what makes sense financially. I’m not an accountant. I don’t play one on TV. So talk to your accountant about that. Here’s the other way to look at it since we’re dealing with professionals. Look at your liability insurance as well. If your malpractice insurance covers – see what they cover and see what they don’t. I mean, if someone walks into your office and slid and falls, that might not be covered by your malpractice insurance, so you might need general insurance for that. But if your malpractice covers most of this boom, you’re good with malpractice and then you can talk to your accountant or S2. What is the best entity for you to set up from a tax standpoint? So you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Talk to your accountant. Take a look at the legal ramifications instead and act accordingly.

    Joe: With that being said, one of the things that I read in the rich dad poor dad book years ago was build your team first. So you find that accountant. Find a lawyer. Find a banker. You don’t have to pay anybody first. You’re basically interviewing a bunch of people. See which one will work with you, which one gives you that advice. See which one educates you the best, and that’s one you keep on board. Look guys, you might go through two or three accountants. You might go through two or three bankers. It’s always good to learn as much as possible. Find this team. It’s exactly what Sameer said. This is the referral network that you are going to need, number one. And number two, you are going to need these services. Sameer, what do you think about something like Legal Zoom? Is that something a first timer could use? Is that worth it? Or do you think no, they should really go see a professional for these services.

    Sameer: You said something important. I’ll tell you about Legal Zoom. I always tell people, ‘What type of breed of person are you? If you drop your car at the mechanic are you the type of person that tells the mechanic what to do, hovers over his shoulder, watches every little thing or do you say here’s my car, set it up, fix it up, and give it to me in two days and I don’t want to ask any questions’. So it really depends on your personality. Do you want to get the nitty-gritty? If you’re the PT you want to get PT clients. You don’t want to worry about the legal aspect. Imagine me trying to figure out how to fix my ailments, my physical ailments on my own. It’s going to take me forever and I’m going to disregard your education. So I say that if you focus on what you do best, focus on making money and circulate the money to people who need it. So with Legal Zoom if you want to get into the nitty gritty, if you really love learning how to set up your NT and all this stuff, by all means use it. If you just want to hand this off to a lawyer in accounting to take care of it, here you go. Pay them a little more. Get that headache off your table and focus on what you do best. That’s definitely one thing I would say from the legal aspect. As far as building your team, I love that. You said you may change your account or you may change your banker. I can tell you that you will change all of that. You will grow. People will be great for that time when you started out, and you just need someone else eventually. You will find people that grow with you and stay with you for life. I have been with my accountant for the last ten years now. Other than that I have outgrown everyone else.

    Joe: I have actually switched to my sixth accountant. Just to tell you how many times as practices and businesses have grown I have had to switch accountants.

    Sameer: Yeah, this is the guy I had after switching four accountants.

    Joe: So I can tell you that he’s absolutely correct. It will happen. But it’s a good thing.

    Sameer: What else can you be cheap about?

    Joe: The main thing for any health care professional is you need a place to see the patient, if it’s in their home or at a location. The second thing is to get a patient. To make sure you can find a way to get a patient without stealing them from somewhere else.

    Sameer: I like referrals. I like asking people.

    Joe: So the other thing is that referrals is just putting the good information out there. You can do it through the internet and you can do it through word of mouth. I think, and I think Sameer will agree with me on this, but networking is probably the best way to generate referrals. Once people meet you, you create that know, like and trust factor. You will get more referrals than you can know what to do with, so networking is a great way and you can network anywhere. You could go to meet up.com, go to a meet up. You can basically go to the chamber of commerce. You can see what your local community is holding. If there is an event being held participate in the event. Will you get paid for the event? No. But the whole point is that you have to network as much as possible. Offer your time and services for no pay, but just for the networking factor alone is worth it.

    Sameer: There’s no way we can go into effective networking on this call, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do networking. If you’re going to a group meeting and you’re just flipping out cards to everyone, trust me, you’re not going to get know like and trust. You are going to get don’t know, don’t like and freaking hate you if you do that. If you’re really bad at networking talk to us. We will give you a few steps. But there’s definitely an effective way to do it and a piss me off type of way to do it.

    Joe: And you know what Sameer, you brought up a great point. Don’t go to a network event and hand out business cards. On that note about business cards, and I partner up with a lot of PTs that are trying to start their practice. I bring the business side to it and I teach them a few things, but I’m also a partner in it. I see the same thing happening over and over again to someone that has never started a practice. They spend more time worried about the logo of the new business that they have created than worrying about anything else.

    Sameer: Oh God. I’ll tell you something about business cards. Here’s probably the most effective business card I ever did. I spent a little extra money. I got them done in plastic, which I think cost me about 20 cents per card. But here was the thing. There was a coupon on the back. That card was actually a coupon for 100 dollars off any legal service. The way that I presented it is that – in the beginning it was if you show me the card I’ll give you 100 dollars off no matter how many times you use me. So people would keep that card. They would hold on to it. I would let them email me a picture of it. If they had it they got 100 dollars off. So I wanted to create something that they will not throw away. That’s a big thing. Everyone has taken stacks of business cards and never done anything with them. They sit in a pile. Going back a little bit to the networking, one approach that I have always used, I never give a business card until someone asks me for my business card. That way they are saying, ‘Hey, do you have a business card? I’m interested in what you do’. Now you know you have someone who has more interest than the person who is like, ‘God, would you just shut up? Give me your business card to go away’.

    Joe: So true. But don’t spend too much money on a logo or worrying about your business card. There are a lot of tactics, and Sameer and I could attest to that. We have been to a lot of marketing seminars where they talk about how a business card should be laid out and this and that, but trust me, if a person wants your business card they will ask you for your business card at the end.

    Sameer: I have it on my to do list, but I have to create a little presentation for how to build a business card. There is so much stuff that can go into it that can make it more than just a piece of paper that people use as a bookmark a week from the day you give it to them.

    Joe: Absolutely. That would be a great presentation that I think my audience would appreciate too. Right now health care professionals business cards basically cover their name, their titles, and obviously maybe the office address and stuff like that, which will be very small. The main thing that I see on a lot of business cards are the doctor’s name, all their specialties, all the letters behind their name, and then you might get their location and phone number in a tiny little corner. But they leave out some important stuff, which I think in your presentation – we are not going to get into it now, but in your presentation I think you will outline it out. I think that will be . . .

    Sameer: Let’s do this Joe. Since we’re going to be distributing this to both your practitioners list and my practitioners list – oh look, there’s something in common. We both call them practitioners. What we can do is this: below or next to or somewhere on this recording, what I will do is have a link to my resources. We are getting tight on time, and we didn’t talk about getting a phone line, getting a receptionist, getting people to help you with your website, fax lines, where to get the business cards – all of this stuff you can get on the cheap. Even graphic design, you said don’t spend too much time on your logo. You can get a logo for probably five bucks. We’ll tell you where it is. I assume you will do the same thing Joe. Have a link to some resources?

    Joe: Yeah. Obviously on the website I will have the show notes at the bottom of the blog post, and I also have a resources page. Basically private practice business academy.com backslash resources that have a lot of the resources I have used to start a practice and help other clients start their own practices. So you can find a lot of stuff on there. Some might be over your head, but again, like Sameer said, we didn’t get into a lot of stuff. One last thing – you were right, we did not get into phone lines, the staffing, and we’re running short on time. We probable have ten minutes left. The other thing we want to jump in on is phone lines. The traditional phone lines have changed. You don’t have to go to Verizon or AT&T and get a phone line drilled in and put into your office anymore, right? You could use Google voice works.

    Sameer: Do you remember when people used to have to come in and install a phone line in your office man? I’m sorry, you said drilling in the phone line and it brought back memories.

    Joe: So it shows you how old we are Sameer, and we’re really not that old. It tells you that ten years can make a difference in price. So imagine in another ten years how it will change. But I can tell you that many practices today, many startups today will work so much better, they could be so virtual. I mentioned ring center.com. I will have that link on my resources page. I will put that up for you guys. They have worked great. I have shared that resource with many practitioners, and they think it’s great. You can set up a voice mail and you can set up the phone call to forward through your cell phone. Basically, it seems like you have a professional practice. In reality they are calling your cell phone. You would basically have somebody screen the call for you and stuff like that. Now if you want a real live human to answer that phone call there are answering services out there. But that will obviously cost you a little bit more money. If we are doing this on the cheap I would suggest sticking with eVoice or ring central.

    Sameer: And I will add something to that. So we’re throwing out a couple of names, and this stuff always changes. The way that I have done this is on my site I have kept it very simple for my resources site. My resources site is Sameer sent me.com. The reason I did that is because ring central and eRing and all this stuff, they may be obsolete next near. We don’t know. Technology moves so quickly, so what I do is on my resources page I keep this stuff updated, but Joe said it properly. You have to decide if you want to answer your own phone, if you want it to go into a voice mail or if you want someone live answering it. Now let me guide you on that. If you have one person calling you per week, answer your own freaking phone or let it go to voice mail, or have a way to capture the number so you will call them back. Once you get a couple people calling you every day, and depending on your type of practice – if the people who are calling you are the type to say, ‘You know what, I’m buying a house. I need a real estate attorney and if you call me in the next 24 hours’, that’s cool. Then you can have them go to voice mail. If someone is like, ‘Dude, I’m freaking out. I just got arrested’. Or in the medical world something broke and I need physical therapy. I need medical care right now. Then you want to have someone that can hop on the phone and be like, ‘Great. Let me get your doctor, let me get your lawyer, let me get your accountant, let me get your financial planner on the line as soon as possible to save your ass’. So you have to decide what kind of practice you have and then determine that. But along the lines of what Joe said, there’s really cheap ways of doing it. There is no more Verizon coming in and drilling the outlet in your office. Those days are long gone.

    Joe: Absolutely. The last thing I think we can touch base on is a scheduling software of some sort. The main thing to do is obviously going to have some patience. You need to keep track of when they are coming in. If you have clients you need to keep track of this. You can’t just write down on a piece of paper. Well, you could. You could actually get a scheduling book and do it, but you need some type of scheduling software. Obviously look, in the medical world everyone is worried about EMR and the tying it into scheduling software, but in the beginning guys let’s keep it very simple. Let’s just go very simple. As long as you can keep track of when that patient is coming in, you get alerts to it or that same system alerts your patents of where they are supposed to come in, or you give them a follow up call to confirm them to come in, go simple. I always say that. Just keep it simple. Right? The best way to do it is – Google Calendar works. I think there is calendar works.com. I don’t have those links on my page. But Google Calendar is probably something I would use even today, because I use it for all my to do lists and I think it’s great. It has a feature where you can send a reminder out to your client that they do have an appointment, so I think that’s a great feature to add onto starting a practice on the cheap.

    Sameer: First of all guys, I want you to know that Joe is actually the originator of that saying of keep it simple. No one had ever said it before Joe. I want you guys to know that.

    Joe: There’s actually the original, which is keep it simple, stupid.

    Sameer: You didn’t want to have copyright issues so you went with just keep it simple. You touched on something with the scheduling and the follow up. How do you automate your marketing? How do you create a system? That’s a totally different discussion. But I agree. You want to have some kind of calendar system. It doesn’t necessarily inform your clients. Your clients may or may not be tech savvy. Bu thane something that alerts you or your assistant 24 hours before so they can actually make a phone call or send an email to your client. If you get clients who are older – you know, I shouldn’t say that. Older people are using technology. But if there’s not a client that is checking their email every two minutes or is more of a phone person, reach out to them because that way you know you connect with them. Joe, I don’t know how much time we have. But there’s one thing I wanted to say and I really don’t think we are going to get to it. I have a lot of people asking me, ‘Hey, I need to do a website. I need to have my website up because I’m starting my own practice’. I agree with it. You do have to have a presence online. If you don’t you ruin your legitimacy, but just like logos you don’t need to have a fancy website. You have to have something up there and they have to know who you are, what you do and how to contact you. On my Sameer sent me site I do have stuff for how to get the website done on the cheap, but what is your opinion on websites, Joe?

    Joe: I think websites are great. Obviously you need a place for people to find you. If you can’t afford it, and this I guarantee that Sameer has it on his website as well where you can get those resources, but I’m sure you can create a Word press blog very cheaply. And if you do it or even hire someone to do it you can probably get it done for maybe 300 bucks or less. If you have the cash to do it . . . Like I said, if you keep your day job you can put some of this together. If you say, ‘Look, I can’t put a website together’. Obviously the Facebook page or a blog of some sort that gives out good information is a starting point. I think it’s high on your priority list to have a website. I mean, as we get down the road, and I think we’re definitely going to do another call like this because there’s so much information we didn’t touch on, something that I really believe wholeheartedly and now is that mobile websites are the way people are finding a lot of the practices.

    Sameer: Joe, I think you’re pretty rich. I think you can actually get a website done today for a lot less than even 300 bucks. I’m not talking about something fancy. I’m talking about just having a presence.

    Joe: Oh yeah. You can get it much cheaper. I’m just saying that if you copy someone else’s site and you hire somebody. If you hire a freelancer to do the work he is probably going to challenge you about 300 bucks, and that’s going to be a decent site for 300 bucks. You can get it much cheaper just to have a page up – much cheaper. But this is just to have something decent that looks OK, and you can get away with it for awhile. But obviously, look, just like anything else the website will always be updated. You should always update your website to keep up with the times and keep up with technology. It’s something that should be done. You definitely need one, obviously. It’s so important in this day and time to have a website.

    Sameer: And by the way, don’t think that you are going to do a website once and then you are never going to change it. It’s a constant work in progress. It used to be six months, but now I would say every couple of months you are going to be in there and you are going to be tweaking stuff for however long you have that website. It’s a work in progress.

    Joe: Alright guys. It has been about 45 minutes. We gave you a lot of information today. Look, I know we didn’t even touch base on a lot of other things, but we will definitely come back. We will organize another call again. We are going to make sure that we touch base on a lot of other topics that we did not get to about how to start a practice on the cheap. So I am going to sign out. Again guys, to Sameer’s listeners, thank you so much for listening. Again, to the private practice business academy folks, the is Doctor Joe Simon. I will talk to you all soon. Sameer, thanks again for being on. We will definitely send out an email to our listeners to let them know the next time we are getting together on this topic.

    Sameer: Thanks so much Joe. We will make sure that we include a couple of links with this audio so that you guys get the added benefit of that. Hey, that was a good talk buddy.

    Joe: Definitely.



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