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It’s no secret that, at some point, your medical practice will need to borrow money. That’s perfectly normal for every small business. Here at United Capital Source (UCS), our job is helping you understand small business loans. That way, you can plan strategically and chose wisely.

Trying to untangle the ins and outs of small business loans can feel like another trip through medical school. Lots of details. Time-consuming research. Steep learning curve. Who has time? You have your hands full seeing patients and managing your medical practice. But small business loans are a necessary management tool.

YOUR MEDICAL PRACTICE IS A BUSINESS

You studied and trained for many years. You chose your specific branch of medicine because you want to help people, or pets. But in order to do that, you have to operate your practice like a business. That’s what it is. The nuts and bolts of small business financing – things like managing cash flow – are just as important as having the latest equipment and a trustworthy, comforting rapport with patients.

This is your biggest frustration, isn’t it? If you’re in private practice, you’re torn every day. Torn between doing what you love and doing admin work.

Medical practice cash flow can be inconsistent. And unpredictable. You can’t control when patients or insurers pay, and it often takes weeks or months. The longer your business cycle – that lag time between treating a patient and receiving payment — the tougher it is to manage your cash. And the less cash you have on hand to pay your bills or deal with emergencies. What if your x-ray machine breaks down? Or your computer?

You’re ultra-busy. Everyone wants your time. You’d like more time for yourself and your spouse. You have lots of ideas about how you want to grow your practice.

Even physicians in practice for years have managed to avoid creating a strategic plan. Medical Economics says, “Without a formal process to identify your mission, values, goals, projects, timing, barriers, opportunities, and strategies, you are likely to miss good opportunities and make serious and expensive mistakes.” Creating a strategic plan benefits your practice:

  • Establish clear direction
  • Encourage collaborative thinking
  • Set priorities
  • Boost financial performance
  • Improve patient care quality

Without a plan and periodic review, how do you know your practice is growing? And growing in the way you want?

BORROWING CAN MAKE YOUR PRACTICE STRONGER

Small business loans are like a timely vitamin supplement. But like your patients, your practice is unique. The key is choosing the right medication and the right dosage – in this case the right type of loan and the right lender. All too often, medical professionals know they need a business loan. But they borrow in the wrong way. When that happens, your practice doesn’t benefit the way you intended. I don’t want that to happen to you.

I talk with a lot of women and men in private practice. Many of them don’t know what types of small business loans exist. Or what could help them now. Business loans are tools. Just like your medical tools, not all are appropriate for every need. So you need to know your options. But you need to choose based on your goal. That might be:

  • Working capital to smooth cash flow fluctuations
  • Pay down debt
  • Purchase medical or office equipment
  • Remodel your medical or surgical facility
  • Purchase a building
  • Build a clinic from the ground up
  • Bridge the waiting period between major loan approval and funding
  • Market your practice
  • Bring on another physician
  • Buy out another practice, or a partner

To fund these needs, you might choose:

You may already have some of these in place. But you don’t think of them as “loans.” They are, though, and it is easy to run up too much debt if you use them in the wrong way. Or too often. A good rule of thumb is to use short-term financing for short-term needs. Save long-term borrowing for major, long-term needs.

Accounts receivable loans can be ideal to improve cash flow. You get your money quickly. And you can say goodbye to collections. SBA loans can be a good choice when you need to borrow larger sums of money. In some cases, you can get 100% financing. SBA loans are notoriously slow, though, because you have to go through a bank. But I have good news – your practice may be eligible for an SBA Marketplace loan. This process is much faster. You can be funded within a week. Our team at United Capital Source can explain the details, determine your eligibility and guide you through the process.

The right small business loans can even help your practice recuperate if you have poor credit.

WOMEN HAVE SOME ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Female doctors may not think of themselves as “women entrepreneurs.” But you are. And that means there some additional resources available to you. The Small Business Administration has an Office of Women’s Business Ownership. They offer business training, counseling and access to financial resources. You’re eligible for these programs if your practice is at least 51% woman-owned.

THINK OF UCS AS A FINANCIAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

As I’ve pointed out before, there are two leading causes of small business failure. Insufficient capital and poor cash flow management. You must have someone to guide the financial side of your practice. You may have a skilled business manager, but you should think of UCS as part of your team, too.

The American Academy of Family Physicians gets it. You don’t have time to monitor every financial detail. You want to focus on seeing patients. They say it’s a matter of triage. “Just as you work with your clinical staff to monitor the vital signs of your patients, you and your front-office staff can monitor the “vital signs” that reveal your practice’s financial health.”

Industry experts say medical practices fail to collect 25% of the revenue due them. When you do collect, it’s often very slow. Payments and reimbursements trickle in 30, 60 or – all too often – 90 days late. This is the definition of cash flow problems. That’s where we come in. We’re here to help your medical practice thrive. Call us when you need a small business loan for your medical practice to smooth cash flow and when you need a major loan to expand your practice.

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