Benefits of a Business Mentor Private practitioners can look to more experienced, business-savvy owners to help hone their management skills. In Private Practice
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In Private Practice  |   August 01, 2016
Benefits of a Business Mentor
Author Notes
  • Amy Wetherill, MA, CCC-SLP, president of the American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology, owns the The Pediatric Development Center in Rockville and Silver Spring, Maryland. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 13, Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia). amy@pdcandme.com
    Amy Wetherill, MA, CCC-SLP, president of the American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology, owns the The Pediatric Development Center in Rockville and Silver Spring, Maryland. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 13, Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia). amy@pdcandme.com×
Article Information
Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / In Private Practice
In Private Practice   |   August 01, 2016
Benefits of a Business Mentor
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 40-41. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.21082016.40
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 40-41. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.21082016.40
“You know, Amy, you set her up to fail.”
That admonition was my first lesson with the woman—a respected financial services business owner and family friend—who was about to become my business mentor.
My heart sank as I sucked in my breath and forgot to exhale. A few days prior, I had fired my wonderful-nanny-turned-horrible-office-manager for mismanagement of my private practice. My friend helped me realize that terrific skills in one arena—in this case, child care—do not always translate well into a different work setting.
How fortunate I was that she took me under her wing, saying, “I would like to be your mentor because there isn’t anything you will encounter that I haven’t already dealt with in my 30 years of owning a small business.”
My relationship with my mentor is a valuable, special aspect of my private practice. The knowledge that she has shared with me echoes in my mind every time I make a critical business decision.

If your practice is going to be sustainable in the long run, you must gracefully take on the role of business owner.

Clinical skills are not business skills
Like most successful audiologists and speech-language pathologists in private practice, you probably have an entrepreneurial spirit, a vision for effective service delivery, and a great reputation in the community for being an amazing clinician. But you probably have very little business experience—a common scenario among medical professionals.
Often, you may discover you are terrific working for your practice, but lack the skills to work on your practice. However, if your practice is going to be sustainable in the long run, you must gracefully take on the role of business owner. In private practice, this role may include—but is certainly not limited to—chief executive officer, chief financial officer, billing department, human resources, receptionist and office manager.
It can be overwhelming when you look around and discover that you simply don’t know what you don’t know. Having a mentor can be an invaluable resource to help you identify knowledge gaps and grow as a businessperson.
Professional—and personal—relationships
A mentor is a trusted adviser and confidant, not a business coach. The relationship between you and your mentor is professional and personal. The relationship must be balanced and mutually respectful to be effective and long-lasting. Select a mentor with whom you feel comfortable sharing your business plan, your numbers, your issues and your successes.
Mentors are most helpful when they understand your business plan and your business model. In addition to being your cheerleader, your mentor can offer advice on the steps you need to take to create and maintain your vision, and suggest an objective, unemotional plan of action. A mentor may also provide opportunities for you to expand your professional network of referral sources, business support professionals and services. It is your responsibility to respect the mentor’s time, implement recommendations and follow up by reporting the results.

A mentor is a trusted adviser and confidant, not a business coach. The relationship between you and your mentor is professional and personal. The relationship must be balanced and mutually respectful to be effective and long-lasting.

Finding a mentor
Admittedly, I got lucky—most mentors do not call you to volunteer their services! So, where do you find a mentor? Take a look around at the experienced people in your life to find someone:
  • With whom you have an established, respectful professional and/or personal relationship.

  • You admire and trust.

  • Who shares your values.

Professional associations also offer mentorship opportunities.
With initiative and commitment, you can find a mentor who will help you grow professionally and take your practice to the next level.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2016
Volume 21, Issue 8