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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!