Top Ten Things I Never Knew about Starting a Business

Business lessons learnedJill Murphy, DPT, LAT, CSCS

In 2001 I had a conversation with one of my grad school professors regarding my professional goals for the future. Graduation from physical therapy school was just one month away, so call me crazy, but I thought I was done with goals. I had accomplished everything I had set out to do when I made it through PT school, had my degree, and found my first job. I figured I was destined to work for a nice hospital system and would be happy there for the rest of my career.

Flash forward ten years when I announced to my husband that the time was right to start my own physical therapy practice, let’s face it. I had no idea how big of a task this would be. I honestly believed I was simply changing where I worked, just the street address, no big deal. Now, I did have some experience running a very small business before, and I grew up in a household of parents who were small business owners (farmers). But then again, had I known the trials and hurdles, and on-going challenges of starting a brick and mortar business, would I do it again? Perhaps with more trepidation, but… yes! In a heartbeat!

Even if I would do it all over again, there definitely were many surprise lessons I learned along the way. Things I never expected would be a big deal were now a very big deal. So here is a synopsis of the interesting and unintended things you learn as you start your first business.

10. How much time it would take to complete and review, revise, review, revise, review, and revise yet again, my business plan to my husband’s and my business mentor’s satisfaction.

9. How long it would take to get up and running once I actually got the green light from the significant other.

8. How other people, including close friends and family, see you completely differently once you tell them you are starting your own business. (like, are you an alien/insane/all there/did you hit your head recently/do you enjoy self-torture)?

7. How convoluted our healthcare system is, between private insurance contracts and working with the government to become a Medicare/Medicaid provider just as the rules all changed under the Affordable Care Act.

6. How creative your problem solving abilities can become after solving 101 problems in 31 days.

5. While it may be challenging to start a business, it's actually more challenging to manage the growth of a business.

4. How random all the details important to the success of different types of marketing can seem.

3. How long it takes to become a provider for Medicare and Medicaid (even though I already was a provider for both Medicare and Medicaid - hah!).

2. You think the government takes a lot of money when you are paid by someone else. Between payroll taxes and multiple other taxes, I now understand why businesses pay so much attention to legislative changes in Washington and why businesses are so hesitant to hire more staff, since I’m pretty sure at least 50% of a business income and payroll is paid in taxes under 35 different categories. Think I have a few ideas on how to grow jobs in our economy? Don’t even get me started!

1. How much fun it is to help people not only as a physical therapist, but also as a business owner, supporting and sponsoring different events around the community, and meeting new people and developing new relationships inside and outside the clinic every day! Despite the challenges and future unknowns, there’s no other place I’d rather be.