Taking the Leap into Private Practice

By definition, an entrepreneur is one who brings about innovation, bears most of the risk, and enjoys most of the rewards. In optometry, those looking to own a practice can go different routes — partner with an existing practice, acquire a practice, or start a practice cold.  

I took the route of partnering in an existing practice, but I am intrigued and inspired by those who start from the ground up. We go into business to create a practice that supports our personal and professional goals, one that we look forward to working in every day. Many of us feel the itch to create right away — we have a strong vision of what we want out of our lives and out of our businesses and can’t wait to get to work on that. Others take a more circuitous route. We may work for someone else for a bit, learning as we go, filing away our ideas for a later date, until the time is right to go at it on our own. We bide our time, exploring other roles and possibly searching for partnerships or practices to buy that either don’t fit our needs or don’t materialize at all. We then get a spark, a nudge, a push — this is it. This is our time. The time to take the leap.  

I’ve been fortunate to have many friends launch their dream practices over the past few years, and what they have created continues to impress me. Many have families, student debt, mortgages, and responsibilities, but they feel the pull of entrepreneurship and the desire to create a sustainable business. Covid created havoc for established businesses, and those with cold starts had to dig deep to continue to grow, learn, and succeed without being able to rely on experience.

What makes someone take such a huge risk financially, professionally, and personally? I am thankful to have a great support network of friends and colleagues who I learn from, brainstorm with, and share ideas with. I wanted to hear from them: what made them take the leap? What was their defining moment that made them think, I can do this? Where did they start, where have they been, and where are they now?  What can we learn from them?

This month, I’m honored to share stories from a number of colleagues who took the risk, followed their dreams, and heeded the call of opening cold. Thank you to each one for sharing their vision and to each one of you for pursuing independence.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Yours in success, 

Jennifer L. Stewart, OD

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