Having a strong relationship with the patients is important to making sure they trust you. If you have built a strong rapport with patients, you can also start to feel more comfortable in your own practice. I can’t tell you how many clients I have worked with that reach out when they have another business idea or that call with a quick question. I have always lived by the idea of creating raving fans by building strong relationships with my clients. I also try to offer as much value as possible to every client I have. So, if you’re a medical professional, be as kind, understanding, and transparent as possible, so you can create some fans of your own.
As a part of our interview series with prominent medical professionals called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Private Practice” I had the pleasure of interviewing Gregory Stone.
Gregory Stone is a New York business attorney and a managing partner of Fisher Stone, P.C. From a young age, Greg has always had the entrepreneurial spirit, owning and operating several businesses before attending law school. Today, Fisher Stone is able to assist business owners and licensed professionals in starting their own company across all of New York State.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you ended up where you are?
My name is Gregory Stone, I’m a business attorney but the one thing I want everyone to know is that I am an entrepreneur first. When I was 18, I started my first business selling cellphone accessories in a kiosk at the mall. Then I went to college and decided to start my own magazine where we were selling advertising space. I graduated college with a degree in business. After college, I decided to go to law school, so I sold the shares of my company and the rest is history.
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?
One of my biggest influences was my aunt. She started her company around 15 years ago. She risked a lot to build her company to where it’s at today. And she was always somebody that I was able to talk to for advice. My aunt was actually the one that pushed me in the direction of law school. She thought it would be a better avenue to help others and grow personally at the same time.
What made you want to start your own practice? Can you tell us the story of how you started it?
So, we the practice started while I was in law school with my business partner, Lowrance Fisher, who was getting out of law school. We knew that we wanted to go into business together. We also knew that if we went to work with other attorneys, they would instill bad habits into us. So, we decided to create a firm where those bad habits aren’t practiced. And so, I knew I was going to start my firm since the first day of law school.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
So, one thing that happened that was a lot of fun was, and this is why I like dealing with entrepreneurs — they’re spontaneous- we were in the process of selling my client’s business and after the deal was closed, I opened a celebratory bottle of scotch. We started talking and one drink led to another, and we ended up taking a weekend trip to Miami. It was certainly a night to remember.
Because it is a “helping profession”, some healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization.” How do you address the business aspect of running a medical practice? Can you share a story or example?
One thing any professional really needs to know is that you may be the best in your industry but if you can’t sustain your practice and others don’t know you’re the best, you help the least amount of people. Please realize that the business side of your practice is extremely important as well. Self-promotion and monetization are the best ways for your practice to continue and grow. I believe professionals have an obligation to the community to sustain their practice and tell the most people about their work.
Managing being a provider and a business owner is a constant balancing act. How do you manage both roles?
Honestly, it is extremely difficult, but it comes down to prioritizing the tasks at hand. One thing I do is I make lists of my tasks and appointments for the day, and I start checking them off one by one. I try to create blocks of times where I focus all my attention on the legal side of my practice and times where I focus on developing my business.
From completing your degree to opening a practice and becoming a business owner, your path was most likely challenging. Can you share a story about one of your greatest struggles? Can you share what you did to overcome it?
I think most professionals, when they come out of school, or when they first start-up, face an issue with obtaining patients or clients. And getting those clients is really the only way you can really learn. The scariest thing that I had to overcome was feeling like an imposter, giving the right advice, and consistently learning on my clients to become a better professional. I learned that I could assist my clients while also learning through them, which really helped me overcome this imposter syndrome.
Ok, thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the 5 things you need to know to create a thriving practice, and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
The 5 things you’ll need to know to start a practice from a lawyer’s perspective are the following.
The first thing to know is you’ll need a proper foundation, which means forming the right entity for your practice. You can form a Professional LLC (PLLC) or a Professional Corporation (PC). You should also connect with the right insurance company to further protect you. We’ve run into many professionals that have started a regular LLC or Corporation, when in fact they’ve need a PLLC or PC. They had to dissolve their companies and start over, costing them thousands.
The second thing is having the right contracts and waivers in place. This assures that you are once again protected and that patients who fill out the forms are ready to work with you. Any good business has contracts in place, and we have been called by medical professionals that didn’t clearly state what their scope of services were and suffered the consequences down the road. We live in a highly litigious society, so contracts can help mitigate risk.
The third thing is having great employee relationships. With anyone that you hire, you want to ensure you have the right agreements in place so the relationship will be structured properly and openly. But also, you want to treat them fairly because employees are the biggest promoters of your business. As the owner of a P.C. I have tried to create an environment that is different than any law firm. I want my employees to enjoy coming into work just as much as I do.
The fourth point is marketing and sales. Obviously, you have a great practice, but other people also need to know that your practice is great also. You need to be able to tell the world what you do, and marketing is the way to do so. Marketing also means having the right systems in place. I have spent thousands on advertising for top results on search engines, just to be ill-prepared to handle all the calls and follow-up. If you go the marketing route, do your research and implement the proper systems.
The final thing is great bedside manner. Having a strong relationship with the patients is important to making sure they trust you. If you have built a strong rapport with patients, you can also start to feel more comfortable in your own practice. I can’t tell you how many clients I have worked with that reach out when they have another business idea or that call with a quick question. I have always lived by the idea of creating raving fans by building strong relationships with my clients. I also try to offer as much value as possible to every client I have. So, if you’re a medical professional, be as kind, understanding, and transparent as possible, so you can create some fans of your own.
As a business owner you spend most of your time working IN your practice, seeing patients. When and how do you shift to working ON your practice? (Marketing, upgrading systems, growing your practice, etc.) How much time do you spend on the business elements?
So, when I first started, my time was split 80/20 in favor of working on my business. As the firm started to grow, my time seemed to shift more and more towards focusing on clients. The 80/20 had flipped in favor of clients. What I started doing was creating hardlines of when I could focus on the business, because I’m not going to wait for free time to just appear. Usually, I focus on client work at the beginning of the day and shift towards business development towards the end of the day, barring any emergencies. I make sure I know exactly what clients and business tasks need to get accomplished each day as well.
I understand that the healthcare industry has unique stresses and hazards that other industries don’t have. What specific practices would you recommend to other healthcare leaders to improve their physical or mental wellness? Can you share a story or example?
Overall, systems and contracts are the most important practices for healthcare leaders. Having patients come in to sign disclaimers and waivers will help protect your practice and help you sleep better at night. Having systems in place that make everyday tasks go smoothly also creates a more positive experience for yourself, your staff, and your patients. For example, medical professionals usually have a nurse come in and do routine questions before seeing patients themselves. In my firm, I have my paralegal speak with potential clients. He has a set of questions he asks before we speak to the people, so we are saving our own time and preparing the person to speak with us.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant in your own life?
This quote was actually just said this week: The best time to plant a tree was yesterday, the next best time is today. Basically, my partner and I have been going back and forth for years on whether to start including another practice area in our firm. We keep saying “If we did this 5 years ago, we would be in a whole different place”. Now, we are finally bringing this practice to fruition, so in another few years, we won’t be kicking ourselves about never taking the opportunity.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Your readers can follow us on all social @fisherstonelaw, my personal handle is @gregstone.esq and you can always visit us at fisherstonelaw.com. From there you can schedule a free call with us, or you can read our blog for more information on what you’ll need to start your own practice.
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success and good health!