Missing the Point: Why Acupuncturists Fail

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The reward of healing our patients comes as a result of building a successful practice. This same interdependency exists in the foundation of our medicine: Yin and Yang. We need both clinical skills and business skills to bring forth success. When you choose to be a practitioner of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture you are choosing to run a business.

Yin and Yang are interdependent, one cannot exist without the other and when they separate there is death. Focusing only on clinical skills and not tending also to the running of your business will lead to demise of your practice. Just as you learned skills to be a practitioner, there are skills necessary for building and managing your business successfully.

Lorne Brown created this book for health-care providers. The success principles contained in this book apply to any small business, but I had in mind acupuncturists and other individuals providing medical healing to our communities. When I set out to write Missing the Point, my goal was to create short but impactful chapters. He has added at the end of each chapter a section called "Putting It into Practice." Having an idea and good intention is the first step; however, to manifest success in your life requires action, too. The "Putting It into Action" will help you start the process of taking action.

As Business Stream leader at the Northern College of Acupuncture (UK) I have been looking forward to reading Lorne Brown's Missing the Point, a very specific publication written for acupuncturists and of particular benefit to those starting out in business. I initially drew comparisons to Acupuncture for New Practitioners by John Hamwee and Points for Profit by Honora Wolfe, Eric Strand and Marilyn Allen. Whilst these books overlap in covering some of the same ground, in Acupuncture for New Practitioners the emphasis is on becoming a better practitioner through development of clinical practice and patient relationships, whilst Points for Profit is a compendium of all the information necessary to run a successful, profitable acupuncture and Oriental medicine business. Missing the Point is a short, snappy business self-help book. Read this book if you want practical advice with a formidable long term action plan.

Lorne Brown's credentials include a background in accountancy, a busy practice employing six associates and two successful continuing education websites for acupuncturists. He has amalgamated this experience in this book to highlight the common reasons acupuncture businesses struggle or fail, and has found easy-to implement solutions to these problems.

In the introduction Lorne shows his understanding of the typical acupuncturist's psyche and uses this to demonstrate the negative impact this can have on success. 'Like It or Not, You're a Business Owner!', he asserts. This is something I can relate to as I see many new acupuncture businesses struggling. Lorne builds on this in part one, demonstrating how cultivating confidence, optimism, perseverance and attitude are paramount to achieve one's dreams. In part 2, entitled 'Success is Surprisingly Counterintuitive', Lorne explains how pioneering entrepreneurs tend to explore new frontiers and are often thought to be mad through doing the opposite of what is normal. He demonstrates this with the personal example of successfully opening his acupuncture clinic on Sundays, which his colleagues initially thought was crazy. True entrepreneurialism involves 'thinking outside the box'. I particularly connected with the short chapter on delegation and the reference to entrepreneurs having control issues, something I have personally struggled with. Throughout Lorne makes extensive use of aptly chosen historical aphorisms with contemporary application, such as Thomas Jefferson on the importance of mindset and André Gide on the importance of the USP (unique selling point).

In part three Lorne gives advice on growing a business, creating an ideal client base and whether to raise prices or hire associates. He provides notable marketing techniques and insightful knowledge on goal setting. This all leads up to the finale, chapter 17, 'Achieving Success', and the invaluable action plan to achieve it.

There is much I enjoyed about this book. The layout can be commended; thought has gone into making it easy to read, memorable and useful as a resource. I particularly liked the sections at the end of each chapter called 'Putting it into Practice', which show the reader how to harness the impetus of an idea and process it into positive action. If I were to offer any constructive criticism it would be to include a section on supervision and add more practical advice on the importance of reception and patient management. Regarding supervision, it is easy when starting as an acupuncturist to underestimate the drain on one's energy that can occur. Working as a sole trader can be solitary, and dealing with emotional patients can be tiring, especially when trade gets busy. This can ultimately result in practitioners' qi becoming depleted and can thus start to affect their health. I have seen acupuncturists forced to take time out from work or have to drastically scale down to prohibit burnout. Regular supervision can provide guidance and support and thereby protect acupuncturists. In terms of reception and patient management, the first contact with the potential patient is usually either over the phone, via email or directly via a 'walk in', and correct initial engagement is essential. I have seen new acupuncturists or badly informed receptionists fail to respond properly to these enquiries, and watched in dismay as potential patients and business are lost. Protocols to ensure this does not happen can easily be put in place. Patient management is of equal importance. Once the patient attends the clinic, correct guidance from the practitioner is essential to assist the patient with their treatment plan and ongoing bookings. New acupuncturists can easily bungle this with comments at reception such as 'See how it goes and give me a ring'. A patient must be managed or they are unlikely to know how often they should attend and for how long. They will appreciate this guidance.

In chapter 7 Lorne explains how entrepreneurs innovate to provide value. When value is seen in a product it is sought out and customers are happy to pay for it. If practitioners provide value in their clinics, patients will choose them for their care. Lorne has brought this sensibility to writing this book, combining his knowledge and experience to write a book of value for those wishing success in business.

In summary, this is an innovative book and a valuable resource for me as a business tutor, for students preparing to venture out into business and for those already in business. Lorne's writing is easy to read and honest, and his passion for acupuncture business is contagious. He points out how limiting beliefs and attitudes can prevent success in business and gives the reader the knowledge to develop the skills for success based on tested business strategies. Lorne's vision of assisting acupuncturists to become prosperous, successful business people practising with integrity will be one step closer if they purchase this book. I will be putting it on the students reading list. Highly recommended.

Phil Montgomery

More Information
Author Lorne Brown Bsc, CPA, Dr.TCM, FABORM, CHt
Publication Date Aug 1, 2016
Publisher Pro D Seminars Publishing
Number of Pages 97
Book Format Softback
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