Secrets To Bringing An Entrepreneurial Edge To Your Practice

David Helfman, DPM

I have always felt that physicians needed a simple business model to manage their practices. After reading almost every business book on the planet, I was fortunate to read a book called Traction: Get a Grip On Your Business by Gino Wickman three years ago and was fascinated by the business process.1 I saw an immediate application in the Village Podiatry model. As a result, our group has grown 35 to 40 percent per year over the last three years using many of the tools outlined in the book.

   The system in Wickman’s book is called the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS, EOS Worldwide) and has now been implemented in over 200 very successful entrepreneurial companies worldwide. I have decided to customize the model for physicians and partner with EOS Worldwide to teach this amazing system to the physician community all over the United States. If you follow the system and successfully implement it into your practice, it will harmoniously orchestrate all of the moving parts of your practice, help you run your practice better and get more out of your practice as a business. My goal is to publish a series of articles that will educate physicians on the system and provide access to some tools that will have an immediate impact on your practice whether it is small, medium or large.

   The EOS model stems from a discovery that as leaders, managers, entrepreneurs and physicians, we tend to wrestle with 136 issues simultaneously. To the degree you can focus and strengthen the Six Key Components™ of your practice, the 136 things just kind of fall into place because they are actually symptoms of the root cause.

Identifying And Addressing Six Key Components For Your Practice

Vision. The first key component is the vision component. Strengthening the vision component is simply crystallizing your vision, getting everyone in your practice 100 percent on the same page with the vision of the practice. Elsewhere in this article, I am going to show you how to use a tool and discipline to strengthen this component.

   People. The second key component is what we call the people component. You cannot achieve a great vision or make your vision a reality without great people. Cut through all of the wonderful terms out there (A-players, superstars, top quartile, etc.) and really get to the heart of what makes for great people.

   Data. The third key component is the data component. We strengthen this component by cutting through all of the subjective comments, personalities, opinions and egos, and boil your entire practice down to good, hard, solid data because the data never lies. Managing your practice with data gives you an absolute pulse on your practice and helps you predict more accurately.

   At this point, when the vision, people and data components are strong — if you can get a sense for what that looks like — you create a lucid, open, honest and transparent practice where any obstacles, barriers, and impurities in the practice stand out. We call those issues and that brings us to the next component.

   Issues. We call the fourth key component the issues component. The issues component is about solving and removing any obstacles, barriers and problems standing in the way of achieving your vision because success in any business is in direct relation to your ability to solve your issues. Successful people are just very good at solving their problems as they surface. We use two very simple tools and disciplines to strengthen this component.

   Process. The fifth key component is the process component. Process is about creating consistency in your practice, helping you to systemize the practice so it becomes more efficient, more effective, more manageable and ultimately more profitable.

   Traction. The last and final component is the traction component. This is where you bring discipline and accountability into the practice to help you execute on your vision. It is no coincidence that vision is at the top and traction is at the bottom. As the old saying goes, “Vision without traction is hallucination.”1 Seeing what you want and not being able to achieve it is very frustrating for organizations.

   These six key components make up The Physician’s EOS Model™. If you follow the system and successfully implement it into your practice, it will harmoniously orchestrate all of the moving parts of your practice, help you run your practice better and get more out of your practice as a business.

   With that said, the journey is designed to help you become at least 80 percent strong in the aforementioned six key components. Obviously, 100 percent is perfection. This is impossible but 80 percent is achievable and will give you an exceptional practice.

Defining The Practice’s Values, Focus And Long-Range Targets

For now, let us focus on the first key component, the concept of vision. This starts with your partners and leadership team answering eight simple questions. To the degree you can answer these eight questions in absolute unison and be 100 percent on the same page, you will have a clear vision for your practice.

   Question 1: What are your core values? Once you enumerate your core values, hire, review, promote and fire people based upon their alignment with those values. Surround the practice with the right people and ultimately build a strong, enduring culture around these values.

   Question 2: What is your core focus? Also known as the mission statement or vision statement, the core focus is made up of two things: your purpose and your niche. Crystallize what those two things are, stay laser focused on those things and do not get distracted. The core focus becomes a filtering and guiding mechanism for the physician and team.

   Question 3: What is your 10-year target? Most clients choose 10 years as a timeframe. This is the big goal. Once you define this, the target aligns all of your people toward that one meaningful destination, bringing more focus to the organization.

Keys To Successful Marketing Of Your Practice

Question 4: What is your marketing strategy? This question is designed to focus the team around marketing efforts, ultimately increasing patient volume and practice revenue. There are four parts to the marketing strategy.

   1. Who is the target market? This is crystallizing who your ideal patient is and who you should be targeting. Define the demographic, geographic and psychographic characteristics of your ideal patients. Who are they, where are they and what do they value?

   2. What are the three things that truly make the practice different from other practices and more valuable?

   3. What is your proven process for consistently delivering value?

   4. What is your practice guarantee or promise to patients?
Having a clear marketing strategy makes it much easier to create a marketing plan. This is the best way to get a message to your target audience. You now know what the organization does, what you do, where you are going and, with your marketing strategy, how to get there.

Addressing Short-Term And Long-Term Priorities And Issues

Question 5: What is your three-year picture? Paint a vivid picture of what the practice looks like three short years from now. Again, take a simplified approach to strategic planning, which will ultimately be much more effective. Define the future date and then predict your revenue, profit and key measurable data for the year ending on that future date. Then add five to 15 bullet points to paint that picture of what the practice looks like. That way, in your mind’s eye, everyone on the team is seeing the exact same thing.

   This will accomplish two things. Once you clearly see your three-year picture and where you are going, you are more likely to get there. Secondly, being that clear enables you to better establish discipline and accountability with the “traction” component, and do much better one-year planning.

   Question 6: What is your one-year plan? Again, set the future date and predict your revenue, profit and measurable data for the year. Then determine the three to seven most important things that must occur in the next year to be on track with achieving everything in your three-year picture. Do not focus on everything because you actually achieve less when you try to do too much.

   Question 7: What are your priorities? With the one-year plan now clear, focus on what really matters in the next 90 days of the practice’s life. What are the three to seven most important priorities to accomplish to be on track with achieving everything in the one-year plan? The team comes together each quarter, reviews the past performance and vision, gets back on the same page and then determines what absolutely must happen in the next 90 days. This keeps the entire organization laser focused, gaining much more traction.

   Question 8: What are your issues? What are the obstacles, barriers, problems, concerns and opportunities that need to be removed or capitalized on to achieve your vision? In an open and honest environment, staff should enumerate these and add them to the issues list. Address these issues in quarterly meetings.

Final Notes

Answering the eight questions initially gets the practice’s leadership team 100 percent on the same page. If you privately surveyed all your doctors and leadership team, and asked what the vision is, you would probably get a different variation of the vision from each person so the idea is to get the entire team seeing eye to eye.

   If you have 40 people in your practice, 40 out of 40 need to share your vision and their actions must perpetuate the vision. To the degree everyone’s energy in your practice is going in one direction, the practice will get there faster because everyone is focused in the same direction.

   Dr. Helfman is the CEO and founder of Village Podiatry Centers in Atlanta. For more information on implementing this model in your practice, one may contact the author at (404) 509-5454 or via e-mail at


1. Wickman G. Traction: Get a grip on your business. EOS Publishing, Livonia, Mich., 2007.

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