6 Characteristics of Successful Biz PTs

You’ve put in the long hours and sleepless nights to earn your credentials —and you’ve continued to further your education every day to stay up on new research —but if you want to be among the physical therapist elite, you’ve got to do more than that. By interviewing clinicians who have successfully launched and grown their businesses, this series aims to educate and provide insight for other clinicians who hope to have similar successes beyond treating patients. This article will cover the primary characteristics found within successful Biz PTs across numerous specialties and backgrounds. Hopefully you will come away from the article with a new understanding of entrepreneurship within physical therapy, and the desire to start exercising these 6 characteristics:

An Interview with: Dr. Ben Fung, PT, DPT, MBA

Spirit Animal: Wolverine

1. Social Impact

The physical therapy profession exists to make a distinctive difference in the lives of individuals and society. This is the starting point and ending point of the mission–changing lives for the better. The elite take this a step further by sharing their knowledge with the world for the purpose of improving the welfare of others. Dr. Ben Fung of UpDoc Media began hitting the spotlight when his goals shifted. “My passion turned from hands on care to empowering the hands of others. And, in this dream, there would be no limits to whose hands and how many — I wanted to be an accelerator of success.” but before Ben became a master jedi of physical therapy, he started out by proactively showing genuine interest in the health and wellbeing of others.

2. Ability

PT school is great for cultivating certain skills but effective management, branding, marketing, and business operation is rarely emphasized. Successful business owners and entrepreneurs take initiative to learn these things by going back to school, or learning by doing. However, you don’t need to go get your MBA or a psychology degree to be successful. According to Ben, you already have the skill you need to start. “every doctor of physical therapy has that potential [to speak on the news or on other platforms] from the get go. There is no prerequisite for that. You only need the ability and fortitude.” We all have the ability, don’t let fear hold you back.

An Interview with: Dr. Julie Hershberg, PT, DPT, NCS

Spirit Animal: Dog

3. Passion

For those of you who watch Aaron Lebaurer’s CashPT Lunch Hour you may be familiar with Dr. Julie Hershberg owner of [Re+active] Physical Therapy who was a special guest on episode #27 It’s a Neuro State of Mind. On the show Julie spoke so passionately I actually cracked a smile and knew I had to interview her. 5 minutes into the interview I already know why she is a success. Julie doesn’t just love her work, she is obsessed with the process. “I’m just in love with how complicated it is, how challenging it is, how every person in front of you is a puzzle and you have to be like Nancy Drew and figure it out.” In the physical therapy industry, this level of passion is essential for business success and we could all learn a thing or two from Julie.

4. Purpose

Passion without purpose, is a ship at sea without a sail. Julie knew her purpose the first time she shadowed a neurologist in high school and witnessed a man learn how to walk again. Years later after she earned her credentials, her clinic director told her “this neuro thing is kind of expensive, we can’t keep you.” Instead of wallowing in disappointment, Julie used the experience to strengthen her resolve and started seeing her own patients. Today she has 2 locations and 12 employees. If you know your purpose and have the passion to pursue it despite resistance, the doors of opportunity will open.

An Interview with: Dr. Gene Shirokobrod, PT, DPT

Spirit Animal: Wolf

5. Hustle

In an interview with Gene Shirokobrod CEO of UpDoc Media, Therapy Insiders and Verve, he told me what attracted him to entrepreneurship is “you’re going to fail or succeed but it’s all on you.” This is exactly the mentality that fuels an entrepreneur’s hustle and pushes them on the days that they don’t want to go, but they go anyway. When Gene first launched Verve he was working around 100 hours a week, putting 40-50 hours in the clinic, launching Therapy Insiders, and raising his newborn son. Although 100 hours a week seems extreme, it is actually quite common which is why if you want to become a successful business owner and entrepreneur, you have to start hustling. Give it your all, get out there selling, promoting, and working your head off.

6. Fortitude

Hustle won’t get you too far if you switch directions every time things don’t go your way; which will happen OFTEN. In our interview, Gene said, “If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re going at it without a safety net, you have the type of personality that thrives on these moments [small wins/losses], but the moments are not what make or break you, it's the periods between the moments.” What Gene is so wisely referring to, are the moments of resistance, uncertainty and doubt. These barriers are why entrepreneurs must have constant fortitude, meaning courage in pain or adversity, in order to have ongoing success.

Jordan Mather - CEO Health Snaps

Spirit Animal: Eagle

Notes From The Author

Throughout my journey as an entrepreneur I’ve helped launch numerous tech companies and worked closely with business owners ranging from small home health agencies to entire health systems. Although I have consistently found these characteristics prevalent in successful founders, it is important to note that 99.99% of them did not start out this way but develop these skills over long periods of time. If you are someone who wants to start a business but doesn’t understand business yet, longs for social acceptance, or isn’t sure if you can handle working 80-100 hour weeks on your business, that is perfectly natural and you’re not alone. Don’t be discouraged! Focus on developing one area at a time, make a plan, write it down, execute, reflect, refine, and repeat. You can do this! You graduated PT school after all!

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