Building and Managing a Clinic, Expensive or Cheap?

The title questioning the expense or affordability of investing in a clinic comes from hearing the urgent need for information from a number of my friends who are interested in having their own clinic business, as follows.

“Starting a clinic business must cost a lot, Doc!”

“I don’t have the means to do that, no money.”

“…I don’t think I’m ready for this….”

“If I had the funds, I would love to have my own clinic…”

The statement above is understandable. I used to think the same way. Just like that. Many friends encouraged and supported me to open a clinic, but I was always hesitant, even choosing to join the line ; “later, while I was collecting the capital first.” That was me.

After years of just dreaming, I finally arrived at the point of courage to start my own clinic. As it turned out, the experience of building, managing, and growing the Angsamerah clinic has provided meaningful lessons that I want to share with my medical colleagues and social advocates. The aim is to motivate them and be more confident to venture into private sector businesses, such as opening a clinic or other social initiatives, that have a positive effect on society. The more clinics available, the more it will help the community and expand the career options for health workers in Indonesia.

Yes, it is true that opening a clinic does require costs. So, is the cost big or small?

Whether big or small, expensive or cheap, is a relative value. It depends on our interest, the funds available to us, the type of clinic services we are providing, and the targets and results we want to achieve. Most importantly, do not give up quickly just because of the issue of funds.

Know that the capital to build a clinic business does not only depend on the availability of funds. We often overlook other capital that we already have. Just to name a few essential resources such as courage and determination, friendship and networking, or experience and expertise.

And, there is one important thing that we often overlook (including by me before ☹): writing down our business plans strategically on paper, complete with cost estimates and measurable.

Writing a business plan has many benefits. In addition to sharpening the social business that you dream of; this document becomes a reference material to increase the possibility of obtaining funding support.

If you want to know more about business plans and the process steps, please click this article: Six Steps to Writing a Business Plan.

It cannot be denied that financing business in the private sector, both for profit and non-profit, becomes uncontrollably expensive when influenced by factors such as:

  • Trial and Error. What I mean here is; the owner applies the habit of starting first without sharp planning and without financial calculation. Just do it, after all the money is available.
  • Inefficient and non-standard management. No priorities. There is no standard reference for management. If there is, it is usually not clear.
  • Not looking at learning or preparing for change. Managers tend to cover up mistakes or look for individual mistakes rather than looking at system or team mistakes, or/and be defensive, not open to criticism and new ideas.

Below I share a number of questions and answers that are common when we want to start a business and have our own clinic.

Is starting a clinic a career opportunity and a promising income? My answer is YES, with the considerations:

  • Having a clinic is one of the career choices that provide an income as a salary for employees and business owners.
  • Running a clinic as part of self-actualization that can help others and the surrounding community.
  • Services in the health sector, especially primary health services and its variations, are needed by the people in various parts of Indonesia.
  • There is priority and government support at present and in the future, to strengthen and expand primary facility services in Indonesia.

Will an economic crisis affect clinic business?

  • YES, but it doesn’t mean the effect of an economic crisis cannot be managed. Most importantly, unexpected situations or risks need to be thought of and prepared for in advance. Just like our clinic experience in facing the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first three months, there was a significant decrease in the number of patients, so the clinic’s income only reached one third of its usual amount, while daily operational expenses did not decrease at all. A worrying situation, isn’t it? So, what’s the solution? The availability of special funds plus the adjustment strategies we implemented quickly allowed us to overcome the difficulties, and even afterwards were still able to generate a profit.

What are the challenges of opening a private clinic that need to be considered and prepared from the beginning?

  • The obligation of the financial readiness you have, and what the clinic needs.
  • How committed you are to make a smart Business Plan.
  • Understanding and operating a healthy business: efficient, effective, having reference standards, transparent, and free from group/individual conflict of interest.
  • Recognizing and anticipating local competition.
  • Being aware of the risk of no guaranteed income and profit.
  • Recognizing the government regulations both national and regional, including professional standards from health organizations.
  • Getting the clinic licensing.
  • Thinking about the threat of litigation.
  • Considering the risk of unexpected events such as fire and natural disasters.

Starting something clearly has never been easy. Therefore, there is no harm in learning from people who have/are pursuing it.

Here are the initial steps that you can start to make  your dream come true—that is to have your own clinic business.

  • Set aside time to reconnect with yourself by asking yourself: why do you want to open a clinic, and what strengths and weaknesses do you have?
  • Have the determination not to give up easily. Realize fully that every effort requires a process and takes courage.
  • Tell your dream/idea to someone you trust, who is willing to listen, and has a growing mindset.
  • Discuss with a close friend who has a critical and open mind and has experience in the business you are trying to set up.
  • Read articles related to running a clinic business and/or take short courses/training.
  • Try to think about creating a service that is specific/unique   (for) to a particular market.
  • Write down ideas and discussion results into a SMART Business Plan.
  • Make an estimation of capital for the first 3 to 5 years, and estimate profits and losses.
  • Discuss and seek assistance from a competent and relevant consultant to your business.
  • Explore opportunities such as: taking advantage of affiliations or partnerships with well-known or established brands, starting a business as a franchise of that brand.
  • Build a cohesive core team. Don’t forget to write down the roles and responsibilities of the team clearly, so that there is no overlap. Also calculate the value of the contribution that you and the team members give in building the business.

May this article motivate you to move forward investing in your own clinic business. Let’s get started, don’t wait any longer. Good luck and enjoy life!

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