Making the Right Moves to Get to The All Star Game

July 1, 2012 | Ownership |

In the last several years, I’ve acted as general Counsel and small Business advisor for a firm in Washington DC that oversees the financial portfolios of High-Net-Worth individuals.
These High-Net-Worth individuals require a specialized approach when it comes to overseeing their interests; they are professional athletes commanding some of the highest salaries in the NFL, NBA and tennis.

These athletes are brands in and of themselves, commodities to be capitalized on in the marketplace, targets for unsavory individuals and sometimes an atm machine for family members.  This environment, coupled with bad investments, poor financial literacy, and the common belief that careers are everlasting can result in irreversible personal and financial downfall.  The NBA Players association estimates that 60 percent of NBA players are bankrupt within 5 years of retiring and according to a recent study in sports illustrated, 78 percent of NFL players experience financial reverses two years after putting down the football.

Nevertheless, a minority of athletes set out to achieve sustainable success; success that outlasts their time on the court or in the field so that they are financially intact long after their departure from the world of professional sports.  What accounts for this significant difference?  It’s the athlete’s own accountability, understanding and willingness to invest in trusted, professional advisors committed to preservation of capital, but also concerned with managing their relationships vis-à-vis the media and commercial partners.

Although it may not seem this way on the surface, health care professionals share many similarities to professional athletes and require the same level of professional advice.

• Like professional athletes, health care professionals are highly skilled and trained experts in one specialty area.
• Health care professionals directly engage in entrepreneurship by owning and operating their own practices, and often participate in other business activities outside of the health
care sector.
• Health care professionals represent their own individual brands and develop a personal image reflected in the type of practice they own and operate.
• Both professional athletes and certain health care professionals suffer from abnormally high bodily injury as a direct result of repetitive movements and intense training. Consequently, exit strategies should be considered at an earlier stage and financial needs addressed early on.

Health care professionals also benefit from two major advantages that escape many professional athletes: they begin their careers formally educated, ready to be pillars in their communities, and their earning potential spans a much wider horizon.

Whether you are buying, selling, owning and operating a health care practice, or considering alternative investments to create diverse revenue streams, doctors have a need to surround themselves with trusted and dedicated advisors.

In the world of professional sports, a trusted advisor can make all the difference between possessing critical defense and/or exerting the necessary offense.  This analogy is equally
applicable to health care professionals and their important role in the for-profit health care sector.

Owning and operating a health care practice involves focusing beyond the medical service being provided.  Achieving success in today’s demanding and competitive marketplace assumes that health care professionals are good at providing high-quality personal service in addition to ensuring that the foundation of their practice is on solid footing.

Regardless of the individual’s background and expertise, there’s often a disconnect for entrepreneurs creating and providing the service and laying the foundation for the
business to evolve strategically.  I often advise entrepreneurs to look at their business from two angles:

The Strategic Side – your Global Infrastructure for the entire Business

a. Financial Management
i.Establish tight financial controls, good budgeting practices, accurate bookkeeping and accounting methods
ii. Ability to acquire the money you need
iii. Account for the money you receive
b. Legal/Compliance
i. Maintaining corporate records
ii. Timely filing of taxes and withholding correct amounts
iii. Ensuring prompt payment of licensing fees
iv. Staying on top of relevant government regulations that impact your practice
c. Marketing – Understand
i. The demographic you’re serving
ii. The needs and requirements of the current market
iii. How to generate more revenue through a combination of more patients and more service offerings

The Operational Side – Internal Infrastructure for the Day-To-Day

a. Labour
i. Ability to attract the skilled people you need, establish personnel policies, training and
organizational development
ii. Ensuring high competency, capability and integrity for all staff
b. Efficiency Quality of Service
i. Exerting good internal efficiency, time management and clear and measurable output and responsibilities
c. Sales
i. Developing effective advertising, promotion and sales programs
ii. Generating strong momentum by continually marketing your services

It takes an entire team to win the super Bowl.  Successful entrepreneurs are no different – a robust team is critical to ensuring that both the global and internal infrastructure are designed to outlast a season and developed for long term sustainability.

Recap:

Your business is constantly growing and evolving; relying on trusted advisors to continually monitor and bolster your infrastructure in the pursuit of your long term goals could mean the difference between you working for your money or your money working for you.

Bottom Line: This article compares and contrasts the investment needs and concerns of health care professionals with those of professional athletes.