Risks, Mistakes, Regrets, and WTF Was I Thinking???

As I was editing and reposting Equipment Financing Part 1, I couldn't stop cringing at what I was reading. I called my 2010 self an idiot more than I care to admit. I really had absolutely ZERO clue what I was doing. I was just banking on the fact that I was smart and diligent enough to become an ophthalmologist, I was willing to invest the time and energy to learn on the fly, and that I was not afraid to make mistakes that could potentially lead to my financial demise.

The last part is probably the most important key to building a successful solo practice or any other business. You have to be willing to take risks, and have the gall to stomach their consequences. I was more than prepared to crash and burn, and had contingency plans in the unfortunate event that my fears became reality. Unfortunately, this kind of risk-taking behavior is also the exact reason why the barrier for entry into solo medical practice is so high for our generation. In general, doctors tend to be a conservative, risk averse cohort. Even when practicing medicine, we have been taught throughout medical school to avoid gambling with our patients' lives and well-being, and to do no harm. On top of that, one of the main attractions of medicine is the fact that it near-guarantees a six-figure salary with great job security. Not quite the profession for action junkies and thrill-seekers.

Now, when you send these types of people into unknown territory with the risk of financial ruin, then of course the industry will be fraught with naysayers and doubters. The only reason that the old guard had the gumption to pursue solo practice 30 years ago was because each cataract surgery paid $3,000 versus a paltry $700 today. Any bonehead could probably run a lucrative practice at those rates. It's just that decreasing reimbursements have now weeded out the bozos from the entrepreneurs. This is exactly why you have well-respected members of the community saying "the days of solo practice have gone the way of the dinosaur." They might be amazing clinicians and surgeons, but they never felt the impetus to build and hone their business skills. It's just ironic that the ones that bark and complain about how solo practice has gone downhill are dinosaurs themselves.

Having re-read my old post, maybe these doomsdayers actually have a point. I had no prior business experience, and most of my 20's were spent trying to figure out what the heck was the difference between an S3 and S4 or just trying to be able to see the retina with my 78D lens. I never had any formal business training, and was pretty much flying blind. All I had to rely on was a brief 3-part article series on starting a solo practice that a consultant wrote on AAOE, whom also happened to be with the same consulting firm that I had hired before I realized I was being taken for a ride. Everything else was through professor Google.

Now, here's what I should have NEVER EVER done:

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