We’ll begin with a quick recap of the Seven Stages from the last two podcasts, then we need to talk about the outside influences that can get in the way of your journey through the seven stages of Practice Ownership.
First, there is no timeline for Practice Maturity. I’ve seen practice owners take their practice from Stage One Startup to Stage Six Significance in just a few years. I also know way too many who are stuck in Stage Four Stability, as hostages to their practices and chained to a treadmill, for twenty-five years. But the more intentional you are in getting through them, the faster it will happen.
Secondly, no practice is ever neatly all in one Stage. Life is messy and so is business. But you still get to choose what “Maturity” looks like to you. My business is intentionally strung out across Stages Five, Six and Seven, which is the way I like it. The difference is I can CHOOSE to do production versus having to do it.
Third, no practice owner ever “arrives” at a desired stage and just settles in. Again, life and business are messy, and as a result, every practice will cycle back and forth regularly through two or three stages (rarely four).
Practices in higher stages cycle less. A classic “American Dream” practice stuck in Stage Four Stability will cycle very regularly down and back up—Four, Three, Two, Three, Four, Three, etc. You will spend thirty years cycling between profitability and survival as Treadmill Doctor—another reason why Stage Four is so exhausting over the long haul.
Once we finally get to Stage Four Stability, we now have something to lose. We’re making money, in some cases a lot of it, and taking the risks required to get to Stage Five Success seems too daunting. Even though the voice of quiet desperation is whispering, “Is this all there is?” we weigh what we have with the possibility of losing it and come to the following conclusion: “The pain I know is better than the pain I have yet to experience.”
So we stay stuck in Stage Four for thirty years until, at the end, we sell the practice for its assets and patient list.
Stage Four is a mirage. It looks like a practice, but as we’ve seen, it’s at best a well-paying job. Some months or years are great, but outside influences create conditions that move the practice back into Stage Three, or even Stage Two. Then the owner has to do the long, hard climb back to profitability before the cycle repeats itself.
Do you know what your practice will look like at maturity? Do you know when you want to be there? Most of us have never thought about these things, but if you do, it could be the most motivating thing you’ve ever done. And each stage will seem shorter and less risky because you’ve got something so compelling in front of you. The Tyranny of the Urgent will lose its shrill voice as you focus on the Priority of the Important