Today, summer solstice in the Northern hemisphere, I’ve found myself gazing out over the water at my new house a lot more than usual. Something about the energy of this time seems to improve my ability to see far into the distance, which in turn stimulates an inner desire to “vision” what’s next in my own life.
This naturally gets me thinking about vision in a larger context
In this article, I’d like to discuss the visions we use to guide us in practice, in Chinese medicine businesses of all kinds. I think business vision is much too important to be a contrived product of a single weekend, put in a binder or relegated to the conference room wall. It should be a resonant product of a complex process, and then actually used as a guide for one’s business development – one’s LIFE development.
So many practitioners start a business, cobbling together what they can, building something wonderful, sometimes, but also not being quite sure why
Some of us are lucky, or are happy to work in any practice, no matter the resonance. Others, like me, need to see a deep purpose in what we are doing. One day, we look up, and though by all rights we look to be doing the “right things” we feel a certain hollowness or disconnectedness. Some of us aren’t even that lucky! We end up not only feeling disconnected, but not really making it financially! So, we’re not sure why we are doing it at all. This happens to people who LOVE the practice of Chinese medicine, people with lots of past years of business experience, and every other type of person besides.
It is a potentially universal experience, shared by all kinds of business owners
The concept of business vision, theoretically, provides some antidote to that. If you really think about what you want to contribute, the thinking goes, if you let yourself get inspired by that, if you let it be a guide for your business planning process – your business will be more successful. It will support you on multiple levels.
But, the reality is, most people don’t engage in a robust practice to create their business vision. Or if they do, it’s lopsided – either too analytical or too much oriented around completely internal factors. Regardless, the majority of “business visions” end up under-utilized, and people continue on in their struggles and disconnectedness.
It’s one of my personal obsessions to help you build a vision for your practice that will feed you, guide you, inspire you
I want to help you build a vision that will serve as a compass & a cheerleader when things get off course. What’s more, I want to teach you a process that you can engage in regularly to recalibrate around the vision. To sink deeper into it. At year 0, year 10, year 50 – beyond! So, I’m not just talking about a one-time thing, here. I’m talking about gaining a skillset you can use to build visions for any number of businesses, and then to keep your entire business actually clinging tightly to the vision. This is a process I’ve utilized in coaching, and have begun teaching in my regular business courses at NCNM.
In this article, I’d like to start to unpack the first part of the latest version of this robust, holistic, business visioning process
It’s just the tip of the iceberg – but should begin to help you understand the importance of giving the process of building a business vision its due, no matter who you are or what your area of expertise may be. Grounding into this vision, once built, will provide you all the fuel you need to leapfrog obstacles and create the rock solid, beautiful acupuncture practice of your dreams. No joke! In subsequent articles – as well as an ebook I’m developing – you’ll receive a robust, step-by-step map to go from disconnectedness and confusion to passion and clarity. Not bad, eh?
The beginning of the visioning process is a voyage of discovery
Through research of all kinds, you begin to orient yourself to what others are doing, what sort of professional environment you’re emerging into, what kinds of needs & desires well up from within you and your own experience as well as beginning to consider your “tribe” or “niche” – that group of people that need the services you provide in the way you provide them. The understanding that emerges from this research is profound, and provides the raw material for the rest of the process.
Your research starts with the professional ecosystem of Chinese medicine in the place where you live.
For many people, this is surprising. Most of us are used to creating a business vision solely from our hearts and minds – a wholly internal, creative process. But, I find that business visions succeed when we look within as well as outside. Here, you want to get a sense for how others are practicing the medicine as well as the types of regulatory and other challenges that you might need to be aware of as you create your acupuncture business.
In this research phase, you will ask questions such as:
- What about the history of the profession has relevance on any aspect of practice, or your orientation to practice, now? Who has come before and what have they done?
- What’s the current state of the profession – who are the major players? How are the allied industries?
- Who should you be connected to today that will help your business?
- How will your business and practice guide you towards or away from others in your profession? In the larger business community?
- How can you contribute to the legal, regulatory or other professional aspects of acupuncture in your area?
- What’s on the horizon for the practice of Chinese medicine, locally, regionally, nationally and worldwide? What does that mean for you?
- What kind of practice models exist in your area? How are people doing with them?
- Look at models related to the number of people in the practice (solo, small practice, large practice)
- Look at models based on your facilities (mobile practice, home based practice?)
- Look at models related to modalities (just acupuncture, or more?)
- Look at orientation around the menu of products and services (spa v Fred Meyer v mom n’ pop v hipster combo with teashop practices, qigong studio as clinic, and even whether something is more oriented towards collectivism/brand or a single practitioner/lineage)
- What are others doing with regards to insurance, credit cards, offering non-treatment based services, and so on?
Obviously, there are many more questions you could ask.
But, the action of considering these questions and unearthing the information that relates to them is a very illuminating process that can begin to get you oriented around the world of possibility that exists for your acupuncture practice. One pillar in place!