I’ve been working as an employed optometrist for five years. I work for a company with 20 practices in the region. I was thinking of opening my own practice. Which is best to be employed by a company or to be an entrepreneur and open my own practice?
I have worked as an optometrist for a company and also worked in my own practice. They both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Being employed means a regular income, usually monthly. When I had my own practice some months by the time I had paid all the bills (rent, heating, lighting, water, maintenance, lenses, frames) government sales tax, local tax, and staff pay there were some months when there was not enough money to pay myself. I had to dip into savings and use other income to pay my own bills.
Being employed means receiving pay when ill (but perhaps not 100%). When I had my own practice there wasn’t enough money to pay anyone sick pay.
Being employed means receiving holiday pay. When I had my own practice there wasn’t enough money to pay me holiday pay.
Being employed means living the practice after the last eye examination of the day. When I had my own practice I often had to stay after the last eye examination to work on practice administration.
Being employed means coming into practice just before the first eye examination of the day. When I had my own practice I often had to stay after the last eye examination to work on practice administration.
Being employed means not being involved in managing other practice staff. When I had my own practice I often had to manage other staff.
Being employed means not being involved in the maintenance of the practice. When I had my own practice I often had to clean and repair it.
There are lots of disadvantages to owning your own practice but I’m glad I did. I was the one who decided on the time allowed for an eye examination, on fees, on recruitment, on which frames to purchase, where to buy lenses, which equipment to purchase and how to pay for it, how much to pay the staff, opening days and opening hours, marketing, décor, room layout, how much holiday to take and when to take it. I employed three other people and allowed them the opportunity to develop their skills and take money home to their families. I provided a first-class eye care service to the community. I had overall control of all aspects of the practice.
It was tough, especially in the early days but I developed an asset and when I sold it 10 years after opening it up, I had gained lots of experience in eye care and also in practice administration, and the increase in value of the practice made up for the occasional lack of a monthly salary.