Need some very broad business advice. (Long)
by Papa November (2013-07-23 10:22:07)
Edited on 2013-07-23 10:26:09
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I'll try to make this as concise as possible. I officially opened for business as an ART provider in mid-January of this year. In the 7 months or so since then, things have picked up steadily. I'm now consistently seeing what amounts to a full schedule. I could technically see more clients, but it would mean working pretty long days. I already do the occasional weekend appointment. I just raised my rates to where they belong, but only a few people are currently paying that rate. I'm grandfathering in my existing clientele through the end of the year, but dropping any additional discounts they were receiving. I'm told to expect a lull in growth as the market adjusts to my new rates.

If I continued doing things like I am, I could probably justify moving into a larger space and bringing in an additional therapists in 2-3 months. Perhaps another 6 months after that I could look to grow again. I think a realistic timeline to make a move into my ideal facility is about 12-18 months.

My ultimate vision is to have a facility with myself, 4-6 therapists underneath me doing ART, NKT, and massage, perhaps a physical therapist, and several trainers operating out of a modest but well-outfitted (CrossFit-esque) gym. The trainers will all need to be NKT certified, as it is a foundational element to my approach. The facility will be marketed as a comprehensive pain and performance solutions center, with full collaboration between therapists and trainers.

I have now been approached by two separate individuals, both trainers but with different specialties, about teaming up. I trust and respect both as professionals and as people. They bring some interesting resources to the table in the form of existing clientele, marketing, and possible connections to funding. If nothing else, they are simply someone to split rent with on a larger facility. Once owns a dance studio (which would move into the facility and be a great referral source), and the other was the manager of a high-end fitness club.

The appeal for me is basically two-fold: Primarily, it could allow me to accelerate my timeline simply by pooling financial resources. But it also has great potential for immediate access to pipelines of new clients. Everyone training in the facility would be referred to me when needed. My visibility would increase tremendously. In turn, I would refer to the trainers to handle the corrective exercise portion that is critical to the work I do.

My problem is I am at a bit of a loss for how to go about assessing the relative merits of growing slowly on my own or opening up a facility sooner with other partners. And if it does make sense to team up, I have no idea what sort of business structure makes sense. Do we just share rent and operate as independent entities under one roof? How much do I lose out on long term by having 1-2 relatively equal partners instead of growing at my own rate and bringing everyone in underneath me? Am I giving up too much of the pie? Does getting into this niche sooner rather than later make up for that? Are we equal business owners sharing the whole pie, or do we each simply run our own side of things?

These are the questions running through my mind. I know they are basically impossible for anyone else to answer. This post is less about seeking those specific answers and more about getting some guidance on how to answer them for myself. What sort of process will help me make these determinations? What other important considerations am I simply not aware of at this time? Is there an order of priority?

Thank you in advance for any insights, recommendations, or experiences you are willing to share.

I believe Lazarus is the expert on broad business. *
by LondonDomer  (2013-07-23 18:28:02)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Specifically the Asian-Pacific Market *
by dulac89  (2013-07-23 19:36:03)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Papa wants to be successful. *
by GailStanwyck  (2013-07-23 19:01:17)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Well, it appears to be unanimous. Thank you, all. *
by Papa November  (2013-07-23 13:42:25)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

There is a lot of excellent advice already in this thread
by atlpns  (2013-07-23 12:02:41)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

You are growing pretty darn fast as it is and you seem to have a great upside even from here.
My recommendation is not to partner. Take your time and things will fall in place, they already are. Build the foundation just as you want it to be, and that may/will change as you move along. Having a partner who has different ideas will really put sand in the gears if you want to change directions.

You are doing just fine. This is your practice, build it to suit yourself and you will be much happier 1,2,5,10 years from now.

You will be the leader in your universe and you will have no problems finding just the right mix of support/referral people. They will be coming to you hoping to join your team.

Proud of your success so far, keep it up!

Stay the course
by saintapollonia (click here to email the poster)  (2013-07-23 11:49:40)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

As a small business owner myself, I would advise staying by yourself and not taking on partners. I've seen it done, in the dental field, but I've seen many more with problems. It wouldn't be anything to rush right in; make sure all the legal stuff is sorted out with contracts including how to dissolve and part ways prior to going forward if you do so. I'd advise working on all that marketing, branding and growth and then include associates or employees.

I realize its somewhat apples to oranges but there are some similarities between the two fields we are in; mainly relating to operating a small health/wellness related business. If you wish, I am including my email and I'd be happy to share some things we have learned along the way.

Good luck to you.

In a lot of way, business partnerships are like marriages
by Dutch  (2013-07-23 11:37:26)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

The flip side of that is that when busines partnerships break up, they are often like some of the worst divorces.

Partnerships are not inherently bad, but they do require a lot of preparation, planning, and proper documentation to do them right. Setting everything up right on the front end takes a lot of time and money.

From what you've described in this thread, it does sound like a mutual referral relationship may be best for you at this time. None of this is legal advice, and you should definately consult an experienced partnership/LLC lawyer before entering into any business partnership.

Good luck and congratulations on the success of your business so far.

When I bought my business, the best advice I ever
by Dillon301  (2013-07-23 11:31:50)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

received was not to have partners. This came from the seller, my accountant, and my attorney. 14 years later, they were right hands down. This is a marathon, not a sprint. So it takes a few years more to grow - but it is all yours.

Lot's of disastrous things come with partners - even good ones. Someone could get divorced and the ex-spouse gets half of her business share, and then marries a psycho communist who wants to milk her share. Or, even more likely, after 5 years, you guys just have different objectives and the business becomes strained.

Unless you need it to survive, go on your own.

If possible, stay on your own. Much less headaches
by bengalbout  (2013-07-23 10:49:49)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

They approached you for a reason. Seems like they see your success and want a part of it. You are much better off hiring high quality individuals whom you trust to run the business while you are not there.

If they are doing something you aren't, then hire someone that can.

That way you answer only to yourself. And your life will be much simpler and happier.

How well do you know them?
by Lazarus  (2013-07-23 10:42:49)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Being good at their craft does not mean that they are good business people or partners. Your business is embryonic and a bad partnership can kill it, and your reputation, quickly.

My first thought is, before committing to something binding like a partnership, just formalize the referral relationship for awhile and see how it works out. Carefully observe how they manage their business. See what their customers confide about them to you.

Then, if you decide to go forward with a formal partnership, a certain amount of due diligence must be done, to include examining each other's books, business performance, credit, etc and a partnership and operating agreement must be created. This process should not be rushed into.

The stakes are high for your business, be patient in pursuing shortcuts to growth. You are on a good trajectory and are on plan. Be cautious in going off path because it could be irreversible. I hate to be pessimistic, but the wrong partner could easily make your dream a nightmare.

Between you and jt, I think that's what I needed to hear.
by Papa November  (2013-07-23 10:48:58)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Thanks to both of you for your replies.

I feel like I'm on a great trajectory and have a unique skill set that makes me more valuable than any partner at this point. I just need to be patient.

So, you're not going to partner with Ted Chaough? *
by bucket  (2013-07-23 10:54:37)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Partners suck. *
by Rudy36  (2013-07-23 10:53:26)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

get the referrals without taking on partners
by jt  (2013-07-23 10:37:20)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

learn how to network better. Get referrals from many different sources as opposed to just one, two, or three people. What value proposition do you provide? Learn how to sell that to people that can provide you with referrals. Grow slowly and don't expand until 3-6 months after you think you're ready to expand (shit almost always falls through in some way, shape or form and it is harder for you to take cover in those situations when you're just getting started). Build a fiercely loyal client base that you have the primary relationship with prior to bringing on new people to outsource business to; make sure to have non-competes signed by people that you're bringing on board (in CO you can't completely prohibit someone but you can attach monetary compensation if someone leaves and tries to take clients).

If you are going to take on partners have proper paperwork drawn up outlining expectations, roles, what happens if x/y/z happens, etc. There's a whole bunch of other stuff that I am sure others will chime in with but I lack time right now.

by cujaysfan  (2013-07-23 11:17:44)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

in addition - whoever owns the facility/controls the lease - will have a lot of control over the business.

i know you have a pretty specific vision for your business and the services you provide - anytime you add someone to that mix will complicate that (although they hopefully bring some positives to the table as well).

i'm stoked that things are going so well - and i'm still trying to hook you up with this guy - i'm going to hit my brother up again on it.

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