“Be able, available and affable” – the secret to a surgeon’s business growth

When Dr Manish Gupta first decided to go into business specialising in orthopaedics, he was given some advice from a surgical mentor under whom he’d trained. “Be able, available and affable,” the mentor advised. “You’ll see your business grow.”

Since that time, Manish has followed that advice with regard to his practice. “First and foremost, I am a doctor, and I always put my patients’ interests and my profession’s ethics first,” he says. “But I have learnt to wear the business hat also, and that mostly revolves around increasing my profile with GPs, physiotherapists and my community.”

As for opening his own practice and combining the roles of doctor and businessman, Manish explains that this, too, was an easy decision. “In Sydney, almost all specialist surgeons open their own practice, there are very few in salaried roles,” he says. “I guess I had no choice but to jump in to business! It was a daunting prospect and unfamiliar territory – through my education, running a business was not something I was ever taught.”

As well as healing, Manish has an interest in networking with GPs, physiotherapists and the community in general, with a focus on education. Their aim is to work together for the benefit of all their practices, in order to improve the health of their community. In this way, Manish’s business has grown so that he now has clinics in several locations around Sydney, as well as a number of hospital appointments. “It has been an exciting growth, often hectic and frantic,” he recalls. “I have of course ensured I employed enough staff to handle the work, and welcomed their input and ideas. A good team including accountants and bankers is crucial. Plus I have ensured I allocated adequate resources to allow growth.”

A desire to not be tied down to one specific location has also been behind Manish’s practice expansion. “I always wanted my practice to exist in the locations of west/north west of Sydney,” he says. “I now have a nice mix of practice at three locations with access to three different communities which is professionally very satisfying and keeps me busy enough.”

Manish emphasises the importance of recruiting the right staff, with a vast range of abilities. The human resources side of his business, and the focus placed on hiring the right people, have been paramount to his business success. “It is crucial to have the right people in the roles,” he explains. “They are the face and organisation of the practice. Checking references when hiring, being frank with my job description and expectations helps, but there is definitely an element of luck.”

Looking back, Manish admits that taking some time to learn more about the administration of his business, as well as business skills themselves, would have been beneficial. “If I had the time, I might have tried to fit in a small business course,” he admits.

With his practice thriving, both medically and professionally, we asked Manish what advice he would give to anyone starting a business that combines roles, the way his does. “Try to get the right personnel to look after various aspects of your business, it’s too much and too specialised to do yourself,” he advises. “But always keep on top of it, be organised and prioritise tasks.”

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