As a part of my interview series with prominent medical professionals about “How To Grow Your Private Practice” I had the pleasure of interviewing Mona Dan, LAc., MTOM. Mona is an herbalist, acupuncturist and founder ofVie Healing, as well as being an expert in Chinese Traditional Healing. Vie Healing has an incredible self-care product line that has recently launched in Neiman Marcus. V / Rituals by Vie Healing is a Holistic MEDSPA with locations in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood that offer acupuncture, massage, cupping, moxa, reiki, and a product line for self-care and healing.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell our readers a bit about your ‘backstory”?
I come from Middle Eastern descent, so growing up there was so much in our cultural practice of healing that was missing from the Western medicine dynamic. It was a bit confusing when I was younger, because the different herbs and practices we had were so effective, but were shot down from the western world all together.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor, When I was in undergrad, I took an Eastern philosophy course and in it we learned all about Daoism, Buddhism along we the rest of the eastern religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). I learned that in Daoism, there is a whole world of medicine that was pretty much just like the cultural healing practices we did at home and I was in awe! During that same semester, I got offered a position as a front desk assistant for an integrative clinic where I worked for three years and learned everything from how to bill insurance to patient care. In this office, there was an acupuncturist, and it struck me that the way patients left her room was remarkably different than any other room. We had physical therapy, chiro, pilates, yoga and more for rehabilitation, but the acupuncture had the patients leaving on a different scale.
I was terrified by needles, but I was dealing with constant nausea for one year because of a horrible virus I got while traveling the East the year before. I figured that I’d give the acupuncture a shot. After 3 treatments, my nausea had completely gone, and through the process I learned that everything I learned in my course on Daoism was the fundamentals of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. I was sold right then and there. My two passions of medicine and healing had merged.
What made you want to start your own practice?
I had always dreamed of opening up my own practice. I had a vision of the type of service, the ambiance and the experience I wanted to deliver. However, I also understood it would take a little bit of time before I could open my own space. I was always very careful to work in an environment where I could build my own clientele instead of getting patients from a provider so I could create a following. I started off working with a few different wellness experts offering acupuncture in their offices, and from there, I discovered a few important traits. One was who are my target clientele is, what I was good at treating and also what location and demographic matched my niche. I started so small and with very little money, sometimes after paying off my room rent I would only make $5 a treatment, however, I considered the beginning stages an extension to my graduate degree, knowing it was all steps towards my greater goal.
Managing being a provider and a business owner can often be exhausting. Can you elaborate on how you manage both roles?
I like to look at it like this: when I’m in the zone of healing, I only focus on that, I make sure I don’t schedule myself for days that are too long so that when business needs to get done I can manage that as well with proper times alloted for it. I also learned how to delegate in the process. While it took me a while to learn how to do this, I learned that delegating properly is key for growth.
As a business owner, how do you know when to stop working IN your business (maybe see a full patient load) and shift to working ON your business?
Initially, I only worked with patients 3 days a week and left the rest of the week to work on growing the business. Since I was doing everything on my own in the beginning, I had to make sure there was enough time in the week to get it done. Having 3 patient days was great because the patients were clear on my schedule and I could always depend on the remainder 2 days to build the business.
From completing your degree to opening a clinic and becoming a business owner, the path was obviously full of many hurdles. How did you build up resilience to rebound from failures? Is there a specific hurdle that sticks out to you?
Yes there were many hurdles, primarily becoming a mom in the process and growing my family. The limitations included when and where I could travel, being with my family or not, spending time at home or in the office. All these daily challenges between what my heart wanted and what the business needed challenged me majorly. I built resilience being patient with my situation and re-focusing my attention to what I really wanted and also never losing sight of my goals. I remember a conversation I had with a very successful businessman, where he told me how impressed he was with me and how he saw himself in me at the beginning of his career. I told him, just imagine everything you had to do, all the traveling, leaving your kids and wife and home but I had to have my baby with me. I always took my son with me while traveling, working long days and coming back to the hotel, playing, feeding, showering and putting him to bed all while being extremely exhausted after 12/14 hour days. He looked at me and said WOW, I can’t even imagine the exhaustion.
Also, when I was creating the product line, there were times when both the money and time and I invested would go to “waste”. Both time and money were important for me but I considered it a learning process.
What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Grow Your Private Practice” and why?
- Be open to start small — out of school, I was so eager and excited to just start my own practice. After talking to so many different medical professionals, I learned it’s best to find my place in the workforce, with the right kind of clientele, location and niche and to focus on finding that first.
- Take time to perfect your skill and your culture- doing things right gives customers a reason to trust you and return, perfecting my needling and patient experience is what I worked on and still focus so much on. Also, perfecting customer service in the process of growth is extremely powerful. This is where you build the culture of your practice, getting the fundamentals down from the beginning stages pays off.
- Find what you’re truly passionate about- it’ll give you longevity — Find the passion in what you do and keeping your focus on that helps grow your private practice but also give YOU longevity. There are so many things within business that can be draining; either give those roles to others or don’t dwell on the misery of that part of the job. It’s important to do what needs to be done there and then, but quickly get back to focusing on the happy/positive sides of the business
- Offer something unique- The uniqueness can be in the patient care, in the look, in the language or culture of your practice, whatever it is, it needs to be unique enough to build a following because they cant get that thing else where.
- Delegate properly — Finding the right people for the job and learning how to give them responsibilities is so powerful for a business. Being able to trust that they know what they do and not have to micromanage them is so empowering for a business.
Many healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization”. How did you overcome that mental block?
Focusing on what I do and doing it well translates itself into monetization. I work with insurance and that really helps because with a deductible and copay, patients can really work on what they need without being so out of pocket. Networking with the right people is important too — it helps you discover and meet the type of clientele you’re looking for. People who appreciate your work and understand the costs of the treatments before walking in the door is also very important. Having a product line that supports your practice is great too, as it helps take the treatment home and reminds the patients daily of the good they’re doing for themselves.
What do you do when you feel unfocused or overwhelmed?
Physically write — I write down what’s filling my mind. All the things that are overwhelming me. All the ‘to-do’s” and tasks that need attention. Then I assign dates and people to the list.At times it truly feels like so many different tabs are open in my brain and switching between my roles and responsibilities is draining. From being a wife, a mother, a healer, a business owner and a brand owner all have their various roles that need addressing daily.
I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career — None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?
In my medical practice one of my professors, Dr. Chu has been a mentor in the medical aspect. Streamlining my practice and patient care with him and growing on the educational front with him has been very rewarding for the success of my practice.
For business, I don’t have one person that I consider my mentor. I personally started working since the age of 13, from 16 on I was always working in medical offices and learned so much from the business operations, front office and back office. When I went into practice myself I was able to really apply all the tools I learned throughout the years.
I would say the most valuable lessons have been to learn how to delegate, learn to assign proper roles to the right people and not micro-manage. Also, living by the mantra, ‘Whatever you do, do it really well’. Figuring out how to perfect my patient rapport, care, treatments was really important for me. Then when I started my line, I made sure to use the best quality ingredients, focus and really hone in on the style I wanted to illustrate in my products was key. When it came to opening my second office it was all about perfecting the ambiance and vibe, so that when patients walk in they have an exceptional experience. With whatever we do, I just always ask myself, “how can we do this better?” Being open to constructive criticism is key in this process as well, so I really practice non attachment to everything I have so I can have my ears open enough to really hear what people say. Listening to what others have to say, (people who are experts in their crafts especially) and not getting hurt is a skill to refine as well.
What resources did you use (Blogs, webinars, conferences, coaching, etc.) that helped jumpstart you in the beginning of your business?
My favorite thing to do is talk to people about their businesses. I always had such an interest to learn about all sorts of different business. I didn’t use any specific blogs, coaching or webinars, I just jumped in and combined my personal experience, we what I learned from successful business owners and went with that.
I asked often ask other business owners what helped them and what hurt them. Figuring out what worked and didn’t was the best way for me to learn. Sometimes what they said didn’t work felt right to me so I gave it a try, if it fit my style and vibe I continued if not I let it go.
What’s the worst piece of advice or recommendation you’ve ever received? Can you share a story about that?
When I was starting my four and half year graduate degree in Chinese Medicine, so many people told me not to pursue it and to pursue regular western medicine. Now, all the same people that told me I was making the worst decision come to me for so many of their questions from health and wellness to business. It’s quite entertaining actually.
Please recommend one book that’s made the biggest impact on you?
Garden of Emunah– this book is not at all about business but it’s more about life. Emuna — faith — the book focuses on a deepening of faith, to opens our eyes to blessings and opportunities we never thought possible. Loaded with collected stories, commentaries, and teachings. Comparing faith to a garden. This booked helped open my eyes to possibilities and trusting the process of life. Allowing me to not get caught up in the hurdles and difficulties of life/business and keeping my eyes on the prize.
Where can our readers follow you on social media?
For other incredible interviews, please check out our podcast: Healthcare Heroes.
A special thanks to Mona again! The purpose of this interview series is to highlight the entrepreneurs, innovators, advocates, and providers inside Healthcare. Our hope is to inspire future healthcare providers on the incredible careers that are possible!