10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting A Veterinary Business…

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Whether you’re disillusioned by a career path of propping up someone else’s pension plan or simply motivated to capitalise from a dynamic veterinary market, here are a few pointers to help avoid the ‘start-up dream’ descending into a business nightmare!

1. Why Start-Up?

It’s essential that you ask yourself this question, even if just to reinforce your intentions. Whilst hating your current financial situation, workplace, boss or co-workers might be enough to fuel your ambitions it is still prudent to write down positives/negatives of all career options to generate a balanced appraisal and pathway to a sustainable business.

2. Have I Written a Business Plan?

Defining your goals and documenting how you envisage achieving them is not only vital, but will really get you exploring ways to differentiate yourself from competitors, outline organisational structure and develop an overall sales strategy, amongst others.

3. What Type of Business Am I Starting?

Whether Sole Trader, Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) or Limited Company (Ltd) structures are on your radar, get advice!  UK Government support and further information is available through https://www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline. This site can also direct you to available information on tax, IR35, grant funding, Brexit changes and more. Seek recommendations for a good accountant, ideally professionally qualified, registered and experienced in the sector.

4. Who Do I Have To Tell?

Registering a practice premises with RCVS is a regulatory requirement and allows the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD)to undertake obligatory inspections. It is important to enquire about ‘use classes’ regarding your premises to trade in line with permissions from your local authority. HMRC will also need to be contacted regarding Tax and VAT registration (if required). Be aware that the term ‘veterinary’ is protected by law, and so registering the business may take longer than you anticipate.

5. Do I Need Finance?

You need to have enough money to get started and keep going! Remember, cash flow really is king; it doesn’t matter how much you charged your clients last month and the fantastic revenue generated, you need money to pay suppliers and other expenditures to remain trading. Think about how you will take payments, use technology, software and incentives to reduce the risk of bad debtors. Do you need to explore finance options? If billing monthly, you will need enough capital to cover start-up costs and at least 2 months of trading.

6. Should I be Concerned About the Recruitment Crisis?

In a word, Yes. Even with the best laid plans and most reliable team in place ready to go (including you), sometimes things just go wrong! Locum rates have never been higher, salaries on the up and whichever way you look, it’s an employee’s market right now! Having a well thought out contingency, including a budget will soften any problems in the future. Ensure you maintain a sound understanding of employment contracts.

7. What’s In My Current Contract?

If you’re still employed and most pertinently, in a position where your new venture may compete with your current employer, it will be imperative to review your employment contract and if appropriate seek professional legal advice. It will be important to observe any notice periods but also determine whether any enforceable restrictive covenants exist!

8. How Will I Source Stock?

Have you thought about suppliers, particularly sourcing medicines reliably and economically? Identifying partners, affiliates or buying groups you can work with is a good starting point.

9. Which Professional Services Do I Prioritise?

Naturally, there will always be the desire to keep overheads low, however, investing in reputable accountancy services and legal representation as previously discussed is sensible. It is well worth shopping around for Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance cover in addition to Public Liability Insurance. Also consider Income Protection, Critical Illness Cover and Life Insurance is a must.

10. How Will I Optimise Client Retention?

Making new clients ‘sticky’ doesn’t just involve bringing doughnuts to your launch event, although a good call! Client retention is a fundamental; you will need those loyal customers trading with you year after year, so working on plans or schemes as part of a solid marketing strategy will be time well spent from the outset.

Good luck on your exciting journey to embrace the ultimate career challenge. Speak to people that have done it already, prepare your family/partner/pets/friends/loved ones to adapt with you and remember…

Fortune Favours The Brave!

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