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March, 2013

Exit Ramps: Planning for a Successful Life After Chiropractic

By Tom Necela, DC

Because chiropractors tend to enjoy their profession and their daily work helping people achieve their health potential, many of us never think about the end. As a result, some chiropractors don't envision their lives after chiropractic. Instead of dreaming about what they would like to do after chiropractic and when they would like to do it, many chiropractors simply procrastinate thinking about their retirement or exit strategy. As you might guess, this is a poor strategy for reasons which we will discuss in this article. With that in mind, here are a few things you need to consider before you even begin to seriously contemplate leaving chiropractic.

Transition vs Transaction

Unfortunately, the end of your chiropractic career is much more of a transition than a transaction. Most chiropractors incorrectly view the end of their career as a transaction after which they will no longer be in practice. They figure that, when the time comes, they will sell their practice or offer their associate an opportunity to buy. While this is a possibility, the statistical reality of business sale transactions indicate that the process is much more complicated than that and that the road to a chiropractic practice sale is seldom a straight and wide path. In fact, if you default to viewing your exit from chiropractic as a simple transaction, the chances are good that you will be leaving a lot of income on the table and creating an opportunity with a low probability of success. Put another way, if you don't properly plan, you increase the chances that your sale with either fail or produce much less income than you anticipated.

life after chiropractic - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark To add insult to potential injury, by focusing only on the transaction portion of your exit strategy, you may not spend the necessary time creating a transition plan for what you will do with the rest of your life. While the transaction plan may concentrate on the details and terms of your sale, it does not answer the bigger questions. For example, why are you selling? Why exit now? How much income do you need to live in the lifestyle that you have planned? In fact, what do you plan to do after the sale? Sellers that fail to adequately plan or address their transition strategy create a recipe for a bad case of seller's remorse. Or worse, they set themselves up for a lifetime of post-chiropractic disappointment.

Before you dismiss transition planning as unnecessary or something that you innately already know how to do, examine these not so pretty facts about the potentially catastrophic results of a lack of planning:

  • As many as 90% of business owners have their wealth tied up in the companies.
  • 70% of business owners do not have plans for how they will leave their business.
  • 60% of business owners have not discussed their plans with their spouses.
  • 75% of business owners regret selling.

Don't be a victim of your own poor planning. Spend time (or get help) assessing both your transition and your transaction strategy needs.

Default vs. Strategic Planning

The second potentially deadly hazard to exiting from chiropractic has to do with the manner in which you exit. Unfortunately, many chiropractors view the "default" exit ramp as the practice sale. While selling your practice may be the best option, it is not always the case. In fact, by not exploring all of your options, you may lose a significant amount of income. Again, procrastination is your enemy here. The less time you devote to planning, the fewer options you will have. Consider the following real-life examples from our clients (names have been changed to protect their privacy).

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