What to think about when starting a new veterinary practice

Setting up a new veterinary practice is an exciting challenge for the entrepreneurs taking that leap. There’s a range of considerations you need to run through before setup to ensure that you are fit for purpose at launch.

That doesn’t only mean providing brilliant facilities for your clients and patients, but also that your business is set up for success.

We hosted a webinar with a knowledgeable panel of experts to discuss the topics new veterinary practice owners should consider before leaping into a new venture.

Here's a view on what are the initial business considerations before starting your own veterinary practice from Kate Ford, Veterinary Solicitor at Rudlings Wakelam and Simon Biles, Associate Partner at Veterinary Chartered Accountants.

Kate Ford

Veterinary Solicitor - Rudlings Wakelam

One of the most important elements to consider when starting practices - the structure. How do you want to carry out your business? A lot of the formalities, like properties, your employees, your contracts, can all come at once. You've kind of hit the ground running, but a lot of people overlook how their business is going to be structured.

From a legal point of view, you have your limited companies, you have your limited liability partnerships or your sole traders, which sounds like a bunch of waffle, but they each have their positives dependent on each case.

Each veterinary businesses circumstances may suit a particular type of structure. And I think if you can sit with an advisor and say, this is what I want, this is what I'm hoping for. This is what I have planned so far. Your advisor can advise, based on what you've given them, what route is the best for your new business and here's why. If you have a good structure to start with you avoid a lot of hiccups and a lot of mistakes and a lot of those teething issues when you first open a practice. Many of them can be avoided because you're already set up with a level of business knowledge, which a lot of other counterparts may not have thought about.

There’s plenty to think about when you open up a business, but you just want to get going. You just want to get in, you want to get your employees and you want to start marketing. Much of the “boring” kind of business elements get overlooked. Sitting down and going right back to the basics and asking, how do I want to carry out my business? Who do I want to be the legal entity?

It's just such a good way to kind of set a good foundation for what is hopefully a successful business.

Simon Biles

Associate Partner - Veterinary Chartered Accountants

You need to know where you want to get to and exactly what you want the practice to look like. People will always underestimate, to a certain extent, how much work is involved once you've opened the doors and you've got clients coming into the practice.

Trying to do as much in advance as possible in the run‑up to that is beneficial. It will give you a solid grounding and it's not just the first 12 months, but it's saying, what am I going to need over the first 24, 36 months? We would be looking at the finances and the cash flow projections and that sort of thing actually - how much money do I need? And what could it look like, but also trying to make sure you've got those marketing plans in place so that you can keep up any early momentum rolling forward.

You don't want to have something for the first six months. And then immediately after that, actually get too busy with the day‑to‑day clinical work to then start a new marketing campaign. If you can get the bones of that together before you open the doors, you've then got something ready to just update and then roll out to clients at set times in advance, and that can help and maintain healthy revenue levels that can be built on overtime.

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