The Four Stages of a Practice: From Love to Hate


The Four Stages of a Practice: From Love to Hate

Just as products have a life cycle or shelf life, so do practice owners and managers. You can go from the fun stage (when you first started up) to the final stage of “I hate my practice and I want out” (which can go on for many years).

The question is: Can something be done to break this cycle and go back to the FUN stage? The answer is YES! Here’s how it goes …

Stage 1:

This is the Vision-Maker Stage. When you first started or bought your practice, you were having FUN, creating and envisioning a very bright future. You probably didn’t even blink about working 24/7 on getting it going. It was your baby. You were being the CREATOR. You had a thousand ideas and were totally into getting them accomplished.

Stage 2:

This is the organization stage. You now need staff and to organize for expansion. You have become the Manager and your attention is on handling present time and you tend to stop progressively creating the future.

Stage 3:

This is the coping stage. Forget the creating and envisioning bit. You’re not even a manager any more, but more of a problem solver (or babysitter). You are not having so much FUN. You are coping with undone actions stacking up and the feeling of drowning or overwhelm. Life is rushing by you.

Stage 4:

You are now in the HATE Stage! You start thinking of selling (though it is a bad time to do it because the stats have usually gone down by this stage and your practice will sell for less). You are definitely no longer having FUN.

Your Vision for Your Future

You need to get back in the VISION-MAKER mode, Stage One. Ideally, you could steal one hour per day out of your schedule (or a couple of hours per week) which is inviolate in order to PLAN the future. This is your number one priority: CREATE THE FUTURE. Put a lot of attention on it. Do research on other people’s website (this is called market intelligence … or spying) to see what they are doing, what is their competitive advantage, what cool things are they doing for their patients and their staff.

Inspire Your Staff

You need also to pass on this VISION to your staff. INSPIRE them. Constantly. Start off each day with good news and compliments and a reminder of why your practice is there, i.e. the VISION. Go over ideas for the future with your staff at the weekly staff meeting. Get input from them. Another idea: What socially responsible activities can you be involved in as a team (raising money or contributing time and effort to some worthy cause). And so on.

Executive Time

Start by working out a cast-in-concrete time to do your future planning each week. If you don’t MAKE that time, you will stay in Stage 3 or 4 forever.

In my company, I did come in one hour early each day this week and we have a new company vision: “Changing the way the world manages.” And we worked out as a team what our product is: “Inspired and highly successful clients who have now achieved the freedom to work and live their lives the way they always wanted to.”

What is your VISION? What inspires you? Let us know what you come up with. We love feedback.


Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to The Art Of Management Inc. and a clickable link back to this page.

Photo credit: Mihai Maxim,


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