In my two decades of experience with LiveseySolar, helping refractive surgery entrepreneurs scale their practices, I’ve had the privilege of observing what works best in this field.
Here are the key traits and behaviors that have consistently led to success, both in my experience and in the journeys of the most successful refractive surgeons I’ve encountered and advised.
Note: none of these lessons are discoveries I made on my own. All of them I learned from others that were more successful than me.
1. Focus on What Truly Matters
I’ve noticed that the most impactful practices concentrate on a few critical activities, like customer acquisition, pricing, and patient care excellence.
It’s about identifying what truly drives growth and dedicating resources to those areas. Think the 80/20 rule.
Similarly, most marketing activities in your practice won’t significantly impact growth. Identify and focus on critical activities that truly move the needle.
Track your progress. Refresh your focus every 90 days.
2. Understand the Value of Collaboration
In my observations, practices that embrace partnerships and investing in people often fare better.
Owning a piece of a larger, thriving entity, with more people in it rather than holding onto a smaller practice where it’s you and the odd helper, can lead to greater success and efficiency.
Winners aren’t stingy. They generously compensate others to tie people into their vision. They spend more than average on payroll.
As a result, they get more than what they give up. The more people they make wealthy, the more wealthy they will become. The more people rooting for them, the more successful they are.
3. Being Patient
Time and again, I’ve seen that successful practices don’t emerge overnight. Building a reputable practice, much like Dan Reinstein did with London Vision Clinic, requires patience and consistent effort.
Big things take time. Winners think in decades, not in years. I can determine how successful someone will be on the time horizon they speak about.
Why? Depth of expertise takes time to build, and the best returns come at the end. Compound interest applies in every endeavour.
Ask yourself: is this is going to matter in 10 years? If not, don’t worry about it.
4. Build a Respected Brand
I used to devalue brand. I used to think this was big company stuff. Instead, I’d focus on direct response advertising and sales – that’s what mattered most for a small, local business.
I’ve now come to realise that a strong, positive reputation is a game-changer. Practices that exceed patient expectations create a brand synonymous with quality in refractive surgery, allowing them to command premium pricing and attract more patients.
It’s simple, but hard: The biggest brands make promises and keep those promises. That’s a brand. Overdeliver on your promise, and your brand will improve. Under deliver, and your brand will erode.
Importantly, you don’t have to be perfect or win every single time, you just have to win more than you lose. Brand gives you pricing power, which give you outsized profits.
5. Simplify to Succeed
The most successful practices I’ve seen focus on their core strengths and strategic anchors. They simplify processes to ensure top-notch service and scalability, avoiding the trap of overextending their offerings.
It has be so simple that everyone understands what you’re doing. Your surgeons, your optometrists, your patient liaisons, your receptionists and technicians – they all have to understand what you’re doing. If they don’t, how can you possibly expect your patients to understand? And if your patients don’t understand what you’re doing, how will they be able to positively speak about your offer?
The most successful entrepreneurs understand that simple scales and fancy fails. They ignore the shiny objects that are in your path to test how good you are at being a focused entrepreneur.
6. Stay Rational
Emotions are the enemy.
The leaders of flourishing practices stay level-headed, making decisions based on long-term strategy rather than short-term emotions. This approach is crucial, especially in challenging times.
The biggest winners are the least emotionally reactive.
Here’s the deal: Most things you think are going to be great are not as great as you think they might be. Conversely, most things you think are going to crush you are no where near as bad as you imagine they are going to be.
I can personally attest to the amount of times I thought I was going to lose my company (many), and we’re still here after 20+ years. It’s never as bad as one catastrophises.
7. Attract and Retain Top Talent
I’ve observed that practices with compelling visions draw exceptional professionals. Creating an environment that appeals to the best in the field is essential for growth and innovation.
Want level 10 talent? They will only be attracted to level 10 opportunities. This is one of the most important reasons that bigger companies can attract better people, they craft a vision so large that top people can see themselves in it.
The best talent you’ll ever have is likely not even on your team yet. So, you have to make room for them.
8. Leverage Compound Interest
Continuous small enhancements in services and operations have a compounding effect. This approach to constant refinement leads to significant long-term growth.
What’s the most important ingredient for success? Time.
Unfortunately, most of us can’t stand waiting. So, the winners are often the last one standing, because they were able to control their impulses long enough to achieve the outsized returns they were looking for.
Again, think in decades, not years. And be able to extrapolate that a 10% quarterly growth rate means a 40X growth over a decade. To make this real for you, imagine you are making £1 million a year right now and 10 years from now you’ll make £40 million. Would you be ok with that?
Give me conservative consistency over home runs every time.
9. Calculate Risk-Taking
The most successful practices balance risk with opportunity. For example, investing in cutting-edge technology might be risky, but it can significantly enhance patient outcomes and, therefore, practice reputation.
With that said, don’t let your emotions distort reality. Never risk your company (or your reputation) as a result of your irrational fears or irrational exuberance.
Instead, focus on the boring work. Yes, it’s less exciting, but just becoming better every day will provide you with the outsized returns you seek.
10. Prioritize Patient Needs
Finally, practices that align their services with patient needs tend to thrive. Whether it’s adopting new surgical technologies or offering patient-friendly services, decisions should be centered around patient benefits.
Sell what your customers want, now what you want to offer. Sometimes you can either be right, or you can be rich. Don’t let your ego keep you poor.
Create what the customer wants, even if it bores you.
From my extensive experience, and mirrored by those at the top of our field, these are the principles that underpin successful refractive surgery practices. They are not just strategies; they represent a mindset that focuses on quality, innovation, and patient-centric growth. These lessons, learned and observed, form the foundation of a thriving practice that will last decades, not just years.