Hi, I'm Danielle. And I'm a workaholic.
I’ve been a workaholic ever since I was of legal employing age.
In high school, I had 1-2 part time jobs while maintaining straight As, being the captain of both the cheer squad and the dance team, serving on student council and being in countless school career-focused clubs.
In college, I worked full time in retail management from my freshman year until the time I finished my degree. I couldn’t major in just one thing, so I doubled in retail management with an emphasis in marketing AND social work.
It’s no wonder I had symptoms of adrenal fatigue before I even started chiropractic college (although I didn’t have a clue what was going on with my body at the time).
On average, I worked 60 hours a week during my residency in Sports and Rehab at Logan College of Chiropractic (errrr, Logan University now). One week, I worked 100 hours in 8 days--no kidding.
Fast-forward to 2011. After spending 8 years attending school and working at Logan, I was looking at office spaces in which to start my own practice. And I was a first-time mom.
I choose chiropractic as a career so that I could own my own business and help people. And now I desperately wanted to be able to spend more time with my new baby girl.
By this time, I had had almost a decade of retail management experience, a degree in marketing, and—thanks to a very busy department director at Logan who wanted to help more people than was humanly possible for one person--almost half a decade of experience of reviewing associate contracts and lease agreements.
After spending hours and hours and HOURS looking online and driving around with my husband in the evening looking at commercial real estate (while our baby girl slept in the back seat), my heart was settled on a tiny 600 square foot space that was 1.5 miles from home.
The owner of this space was a man who owned a lot of commercial property and he was in no hurry to rent the space to the wrong person. He wanted a tenant who would be stable and reliable. So of course he liked the idea of me renting this office. And he was only asking $600/month in rent.
I loved this space because it was essentially a 600 square foot box with a restroom in the back. Plain and simple. There were windows on two whole walls of the office space, which I loved because the sunlight poured in.
In my mind, all I needed to do was get a couple of partitions to make a semi-private adjusting and corrective exercise area, get a couple of chairs to put by the front door for a waiting area, and throw a desk near the front where people could pay and schedule appointments.
It was even a space that I could see my kiddo coming to work with me in (even though I knew NO ONE doing that at that time) because I could always have an eye on her in this tiny office.
It all seemed simple and easy to me. Low cost, low stress.
However, another opportunity was available--this one 8 miles further from home—it was a 1500 square foot space that already had two semi-private treatment areas built out, a proper private office and was in a small but busy strip mall in a residential area.
My heart really wanted the small space. But the big one won.
And here’s why:
- When my husband looked at the smaller space, he didn’t see how I was going to have enough visibility from street traffic.
- When one of my mentors looked at the space, he said I wasn’t thinking "BIG ENOUGH" and that he wasn’t certain the location was convenient enough for enough people (nevermind it was just a quarter mile down the street from our city’s rec center). He also said when I got up to about 60 patient visits a day that there wouldn’t be enough parking.
(Side note A: I thought 60 patient visits a day sounded terrible to me. The clinic that I had managed at Logan for 4 years seemed overwhelmingly busy at times and we never saw more than 50 patients a day. I knew deep down that style of practice was not going to be for me, but I thought “well, he’s been at this for way longer than me. He’s right. I should be thinking bigger.”)
- When another of my mentors looked at the floor plan of the space I wanted (again, just a 600 square foot box with a restroom in the back) he emailed it back to me with a revised floor plan of 3 treatment rooms, an exam room and a hotseat area.
(Side note B: Again, bigger is better. Right?)
- When I confided to a friend and former coworker that I really loved the small space because the cost was low, she assured me that I was going to “do so great” that I didn’t need to worry so much about keeping my expenses low.
(Side Note C: And when I said, “but I realllllllllllllly love all that sunlight!” she said, “yeah but all those windows will have your AC running nonstop in the summer.”)
So I ignored the voice inside of me that was telling me to keep things simple and low cost and went with the bigger, more expensive space.
Which also immediately meant more hustle to bring in the revenue to meet the higher expenses.
Because the people I was looking to advice for on how to run my practice weren’t mothers, I ended up operating as if I wasn’t a mother. I worked 10, 12, and even 14 hour days. I said yes to practically every marketing and networking opportunity that came my way.
Worst of all, I rarely saw my little girl awake.
I had just left a fantastic job that I loved so that I could have more time with my her. Yet the choices I was making were leaving me with less time with her than ever before.
I had a sinking feeling in my soul, as though it was dying a slow death. I’m still convinced that it was. I was breathing… but not living.
It was only after I had a miscarriage and then was pregnant again 8 weeks later that I was willing to ask myself different questions and make different choices. It was only then, with a third baby growing in my belly, that I was willing to admit I was not building a practice that was right for me and my family.
One of my college professors Stephanie Taylor, my advisor for my retail and marketing studies, used to have a saying:
“Location, location, location.”
In fact, I think it was even the title of a chapter in one of our textbooks.
“Location, location, location” was Stephanie Taylor’s way of emphasizing to us (every class period, it seemed) the importance of a retail store choosing the right location.
She felt our understanding of location was so vital to our studies that she organized field trips for our degree program students to meet at Plaza Frontenac and The Galleria here in St. Louis and even organized flights for us to go spend a day on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Chicago (a mecca of high-end and flagship stores).
For four years I’d heard her stress the importance of location for retailers. But not until now, all these years and experiences later, do look at location with a whole new importance.
An importance particular to Mama Chiropractors.
We need and want to create practices that are right for our families. And location is a major factor.
Your choice of location will dictate:
- How much time you spend driving, which is not an effective use of your time
- What type of patients you attract – ones looking for the most convenient place to pop into, or ones who come to your office because they know, like and trust you (aka "Ideal Patients")
- How high your expenses are, thus how much pressure and overwhelm you feel
- How safe you feel, or not (note that safety here refers to more than physical safety from violence; it’s also about the safety of being supported by a tribe of ideal patients--are there people around who are, in short, like you?)
- How often you'd go to this part of town if you didn't work there (for shopping, food, event and people)
- How far away you are from your children if an emergency should come up or maybe you simply want to go nurse your little one during lunch
If you’re an associate right now who’s thinking about starting your own practice in the future, or you’re a practice owner now who feels like some things about your practice need to change, I implore you to consider your location strongly. Consider that only YOU will know which location is right for you. Consider who you’re taking advice from (as Dr. Karen Richter Gardner recently told me: “never ask a man for advice on a woman’s issue).
If you want to have a high volume practice, pick a location that suits that. And if you want to have a smaller practice or work part-time, pick a location that allows for that. Most of all, pick a location that is right for you and your family so that you can have a long, healthy and happy career in this wonderful profession of ours.