To create a thriving practice is simply taking action. And when you’re implementing things inside a business or creating new ideas, you sometimes experience an issue where you might not succeed right away. So you have to be okay with taking action. And taking any action is better than not taking action at all. Even if it is something that doesn’t work out, it’s a lesson learned. And maybe it’s just making one small change, to create success, and being okay with not having your product or service be perfect, and having the ability to be vulnerable, and not necessarily thrive on others opinions.
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 Preston Brown.
Preston Brown is the owner of Prestige Therapy and Wellness, LLC and Prestige Fitness WI, LLC. Prestige Therapy and Wellness was founded in 2011 and is now a leading provider of in-home physical therapy and occupational therapy services within the Greater Milwaukee area focused on helping people aged 65+ maximize their independence so they can live an active lifestyle.
Preston graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Master of Physical Therapy Degree and completed his Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree at Temple University. Preston received his Certification as a Board Certified Clinical Specialist through the American Physical Therapy Association for Geriatric Physical Therapy.
Preston has over 14 years of practical experience working as a physical therapist providing individualized care. Preston is also a fitness coach focused on helping individuals attain goals in weight loss, strength training, flexibility, and overall wellness. He enjoys being outdoors, playing sports, and spending time with his wife and two children in his free time.
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?
Thank you for the opportunity. I am a physical therapist (PT) and founded my own mobile in-home physical therapy and occupational therapy practice called Prestige Therapy and Wellness and own a fitness business called Prestige Fitness WI and provided services throughout the Greater Milwaukee area. I have a passion for working with older adults and their families to keep individuals thriving at an optimal level while staying out of nursing homes and hospitals.
My career choice as a physical therapist came about following a life experience following an injury I sustained during my senior year of high school. I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), while playing basketball. As a result, I went through the rehabilitation process of working with a physical therapist to get back to walking and eventually getting back on the court to play basketball. During my course of physical therapy, I worked with a student who happened to be a student from the University of Wisconsin — Madison. And that’s where I ended up attending physical therapy school.
Before this life-altering ACL injury, I thought I would go to college and play basketball with no direct career path in mind. However, I realized helping people during a low point in their lives to help them become more active and get them back up on their feet was something I found rather intriguing. So, I decided physical therapy would be a great fit. Initially, I thought I would work with athletes primarily. Now I’m currently working with adults aged 65 and over and making them better as ever.
In retrospect, this experience changed how I look at problems or obstacles because it helped me understand how to relate better with the patients and clients that I assist. Having the mindset that if I put my mind to it, I could get back to doing what I loved and helped me build tenacity to help motivate me during times of challenge and constraint.
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?
Mentorship is essential. I currently have multiple mentors and coaches that help me with various aspects of my life. My biggest mentor has been my older brother. His name’s Dan. He was someone that was always there for me, even in my younger childhood days. Our parents were divorced when I was in second grade. Dan took it upon himself to look over my younger brother and me at a young age and be our father figure. Whether it was for schooling or sports, having him to guide me through my journey was instrumental. Even as a current parent, I seek his mentorship to help raise my young children. Dan has always led by example and taught me how to continue to become better every day. He also supported me along my entrepreneurial journey and has always been there whenever I’ve needed him. He was one of the only people in my inner circle who believed in me and my abilities. That meant a lot to me, especially when others close to me did not have that same response when I shared my thoughts on starting my own business. The majority of friends and family members did not think it was a great idea to venture out on my own as a private practice provider and to take on the risk of the unknown when I already had a decent paying job. One of the most valuable lessons Dan taught me was believing in myself and having faith, even when it’s challenging to visualize. Today, we spend time together, meeting for our investment clubs and discussing other future endeavors and prospective investment opportunities.
What made you want to start your own practice? Can you tell us the story of how you started it?
My journey from PT school to owning a business happened over four years. I took my first job as an outpatient physical therapist. I was overworked and had many daily demands placed on me, seeing multiple patients in an hour, taking phone calls, copious amounts of documentation. I felt exhausted. So, I applied and started another job. My second job allowed for more independence and autonomy, but then I realized that I could probably do something like this independently. At this time, the company I worked for did not want me to go above and beyond to help individuals. It was expected at the end of my course of physical therapy treatment, and I could no longer interact with the person unless it were essential. Essentially, they just wanted me to cut that relationship and continue to see more people, make more income and attain higher productivity standards. I felt my purpose was to treat individuals like a person and not a number. So I started to start a solo physical therapy business to better serve people and individuals in need of that exceptional level of care, even after insurance covered the services.
I have grown from working tirelessly inside my private practice to owning a business, taking complete control of my time and life, so I can spend more time doing the things I love in life with my family. I have successfully grown my company from 1 employee (yours indeed) to multiple (rockstar) employees, and we are continuing to expand our reach. There can be fear that comes along with hiring on staff. However, my employees have allowed me to leverage time to do other tasks that give me the energy to help fill my bucket daily.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Since I began my career, I think the most exciting story was taking a leap of faith and becoming an actual PT practice owner by adding employees inside of my private practice. Because of my own self-limiting beliefs, this was something that I never thought could or would come to fruition. However, being a father and husband, I found myself spending a tremendous amount of time working, and I did not want to have my business be something that took away from being present with my family. Also, I wanted to have more impact on the people that rely on the community that I serve and me, and the way I went about that was by adding employees inside of my business. Having control as a solo provider and giving up that control to some extent was scary. However, I know now that having a team around me that believes in the same mission and vision has taken my private practice to the next level, something I could have never achieved on my own.
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?
Yes, you’re right. Health care is a helping profession. And the idea of monetization can be something that not only hinders one’s ability, but also it can be something that can bring on other emotions. Mainly fear that someone might say things you are out to make a quick buck or are only in business to make money. These ideas and thoughts are far from the truth. My practice leads with helping. However, we do receive payment in exchange for the service we provide. We do not treat an individual based on their insurance or based solely on how much we will be paid. We have to help individuals, and as a result of assisting we should be compensated.
I feel this concept is genuine for any other service provider. For example, if I call an electrician to help me wire an outlet (because my wife will never let me attempt this type of task around our house), once the electrician completes the work, I am handed an invoice to pay for that service. As a healthcare provider, to provide someone with the most optimal level of care, we have to help that person and provide services that can help that person achieve a goal. In turn, you should be okay with accepting payment for that time and expertise that you have provided. Valuing your skillset as a healthcare provider is vital because if you do not value your time or knowledge, it will be challenging to get others to realize the value. It’s hard to tie a number or a value on your health. I think it’s individually based. As healthcare providers, we are at the forefront of helping individuals determine how they invest in themselves and their health.
Managing being a provider and a business owner is a constant balancing act. How do you manage both roles?
Being a provider and a business owner is a balancing act. I go about balancing both roles because I schedule my time based on the tasks that I need to perform. One of the most significant factors that I found to be most beneficial is the skill set of being present in the moment, but also to having time. As a business owner, taking time to reflect and visualize future opportunities can help develop business clarity. As a business owner, taking time to reflect and think about improving is priceless. Becoming better on an individual level, especially if you are in a business that has people depending on you, whether that’s your employees, whether that’s your customers, whether that’s other people in the community that you help in assist having time in your schedule to think about things. While working with individuals in my practice, having the mindset of helping someone get to their optimal goal is always at the forefront. However, when you are always inside your business and working tirelessly, sometimes the time needed to be a visionary and reflect on things you’ve done inside of your practice can go to the wayside. So, I feel we must take time to reflect and visualize what can transpire by getting better each day in our practice.
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?
So I worked as a staff physical therapist right out of physical therapy school, and I worked in multiple settings. So this gave me an array of skills. Still, it provided me with a better understanding of the continuum of care that a person can go on as a patient, and all our practice, currently we help individuals in their home or on-site, so they’re at a different point in their life. Whereas when you’re helping someone, maybe inside of a hospital setting or a skilled nursing facility setting, they’re at a different point in their journey as well. Understanding which stage of recovery you’re helping individuals is important because you can better relate to the person you are assisting. When I started my solo practice and became a business owner, I had to get over the fear of the unknown and understand where I would get clients from meaning. I wasn’t sure how I would gain referrals inside of my business. I wasn’t sure how to map out a marketing strategy to get repeat business with customers and a steady stream of referrals constantly. In the beginning, I tried marketing directly to physician offices and reaching out to different local agencies regarding the services I provided. However, I felt that these individuals already had previous relationships or engagements and were new business owners. Some individuals might not know who you are or might not have the confidence that your business could provide the service for their customers that they want or need. That was a great struggle for me. My solution was to work on skills that would help my business insights and me personally. I worked on communication skills and developed personal relationships with individuals and people in the community, which were genuine relationships. I was not looking to get anything from the relationship other than creating a connection. That, in turn, helped me understand what it was that individuals needed. And now, inside of our business, we can generate steady streams of referrals and repeat customers based on overdelivering on care and customer service, which in turn results from working on this skill set of communication building relationships.
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.)
My number one thing that I would start with when creating a thriving practice is self-development. Start having better conversations with yourself. Creating better dialoge will help you in multiple facets of a business. Improving your self-talk can lead to improved communication skills and help build up your view on self-worth. Having the self-confidence that the services you’re providing will positively impact someone’s well-being. In times of struggle or frustration, try not to dwell on how things maybe didn’t go the right way. Instead of thinking about them in the light of failures, these are lessons that you can learn from. And, once you shift your mindset to more of a positive outlook, you start to realize that you can become better, but you also start to help others become better as well around you. This is especially true in the physical therapy world. When people seek out my practice to assist in their care, mindset is one of the items we address early on in our care. In times of injury or declining function, it can negatively impact our mindset. This is a time in life where this struggle is turning into things that maybe they have no control over, or the person feels they don’t have control over. So our job as healthcare providers is to help that individual understand where they’re at and help them get over the obstacle or this struggle. And to do that, we have to start with ourselves and start to treat ourselves in a more positive light.
The second thing that I feel will help you create a thriving practice is relationship building and communication. Relationship building and communication help you connect with others around you by helping build genuine relationships. Building rapport goes a long way, especially when it’s genuine. Like when you find yourself helping individuals without the guarantee that it’s always going to be monetized. And I feel relationship building is important, especially for someone trying to build a practice that keeps giving day in and day out. Because when you build genuine relationships, people will seek you out. They will want your insight and be willing to reciprocate, especially if you’re helping them achieve something they never thought they could achieve. Building relationships is essential.
The third thing that you will need to know to create a thriving practice is how to manage your time wisely. Time management could be in other aspects of your daily tasks and schedule the most important things you need to accomplish. And this is especially important if you have a family, like myself, with a young family. I have to schedule a time to do what I need to do in my everyday life to be present with my spouse with my children. Having a time management game plan will help you take control of your time to take care of tasks outside of work. You start to foster more of a work-life balance naturally. Being more protective of your time will also allow for more creative time. Taking time out to envision your short and long-term goals and reflection time on how you have come along is extremely important. Also, look to start prioritizing the things you have more passion and proficiency in, especially if it fills your energy bucket. Start brainstorming how you can do more of the things that fill your bucket and maybe either delegate or offload the things you have identified as non-proficient or do not fill your bucket. One of the things with productivity I would suggest if you haven’t already is to take a quick audit of your time and figure out the area or multiple areas you’re spending the most significant majority of your time is your time. Then identify if your time is spent on tasks that will help move your business forward, or are you spending more time on tasks inside the practice and less time on the things that will drive your business to produce high levels of achievement. Once you identify where you’re spending your time, try to hone in on the small actions you can take to help change those behaviors and create a more productive atmosphere inside your practice.
The fourth thing that you need to know is how to hire to help leverage time. Ideally, bringing in employees inside your practice to help your practice have more impact and better serve your current and future customers. If you are a solo practitioner, think about adding employees inside of your business. Hiring will help the person who’s going to work inside of your practice and the individuals you are servicing. If you are new to hiring, think about the things that you need to offload from your current workflow that will help you get more time back and help this individual coming in and create a situation that they can contribute right off the bat. When hiring, understanding where people are at in their journey and trying to help that person further themselves, and their career can make for the most favorable situation. As a former solo provider, I would find myself knowing if I had more time to focus on necessary tasks that required my attention to be focused outside the practice. So, creating more time is essential if you are looking to grow your practice. I shifted from solo practitioner to owner of a business with employees to spend more time with my young family and have more impact on my profession and community.
The fifth. And the final thing that I feel you need to know to create a thriving practice is simply taking action. And when you’re implementing things inside a business or creating new ideas, you sometimes experience an issue where you might not succeed right away. So you have to be okay with taking action. And taking any action is better than not taking action at all. Even if it is something that doesn’t work out, it’s a lesson learned. And maybe it’s just making one small change, to create success, and being okay with not having your product or service be perfect, and having the ability to be vulnerable, and not necessarily thrive on others opinions. Rather, what you do is you’re looking to find ways to solve problems to help people. And when you’re solving problems, what naturally happens is that you find other individuals may seek out your services based on the fact of the problems that you’re solving. I feel success can be easily attained by having the willingness to try until you get it and not stop trying until you get it. Having clear goals and focus on completing small tasks each and every day to move you towards your ultimate goal is something I feel that has allowed me to grow quicker. And also my return on my investment is by investing in myself and my business, which in turn is priceless. If you are someone who’s looking to build a business, not only that survives just on yourself, that actually thrives on other individuals who work alongside you. You don’t need to be perfect. It’s actually better to just take some type of action, whether it’s a small step in your mind, a small step can add up and pay dividends long term, day in and day out.
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?
As a business owner, I agree. Sometimes we find ourselves spending a lot of time working inside the practice and less time working on the business. It is vital to work on the business and not solely inside of your practice. Hiring other individuals to help with the tasks inside the practice so you could spend time working on the practice can be a game-changer. I enjoy working on the practice to help grow and sustain the business. Building systems and frameworks can provide a better service for individuals who seek out assistance from your practice in the future. Technology helps with this process as well. Whether it is building out email sequences, creating marketing strategies, or even working on your self-development, all can help you solve more problems for the customers you are serving. Also, understanding how to obtain and receive feedback can help you develop a well-defined product or service over time. And you might find this product or service is continuously changing and adapting based upon the feedback you receive or things that are happening around us for which we have no control over. During refining your services within your practice, you may come to a roadblock during your journey. However, identifying that roadblock and figuring out how to get around it will help you create a process so that you know how to navigate or prevent it from occurring with future challenges. Instead of being a roadblock, it becomes more of a speed bump. Try to start or figure out a way to spend more of your time working on the business and less of your time working in practice, with an ultimate goal of working on the practice 100% of the time. Hiring and creating systems inside your business will yield more time to work on the business than work in the practice.
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?
Try to improve your physical and mental wellness by focusing on personal development, working on your mindset, and working on the things you might feel the most uncomfortable completing. Meaning, if you’re not comfortable with communication, work on your communication skills. If you’re not comfortable building personal relationships, work on building personal relationships. Once you start to hone in on those areas needing improvement, you will begin to excel, and with time, you will become better at those areas that once were challenging. However, if you are solely working in your practice, it can sometimes take a physical toll on your body working. As practice owners, sometimes we do not prioritize our physical well-being. Making sure you are scheduling time for exercise and improving your mental health and mindset can allow you to have more bandwidth and energy to endure the obstacles you might face along your practice owner journey. Both physical and mental wellness are essential for your practice. Especially if you are a parent or planning to have children, keeping active help with bonding, and building better relationships outside of your business will help keep our physical wellness in mind. Try to devote time in your schedule throughout the week to work on physical health and mental health. Incorporating activities like daily meditation, personal development, and physical activity can help you become even more productive. Try to develop a plan that includes some physical activity, more than five days a week, even if it’s not more than 30 minutes, etching out that time for yourself is necessary. As a fitness coach, these were the exact strategies I assist my clients in developing, so I started to implement them in my own life, and the results are priceless.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant in your own life?
The person who tries to do something and fails is still infinitely more inspiring than those who try nothing and succeed. There’s so much truth in this statement. One of the things, as a person who started a solo physical therapy business, and someone who has been in business more than ten years, I can say there were plenty of things that I did not succeed at right away. And still to this day, I am faced with challenges; however, having a fearless mindset and passion for continuing to learn from lessons is critical. With every opportunity, there’s a lesson to learn from and to get better at. Once you identify what that learning opportunity might be, you can isolate how to get to the root of the problem quicker. That’s how you will start to separate yourself from others and allow your business to flourish by solving problems and helping more people daily.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers can follow my work online by visiting my website PrestonBrown.com. Also, I’m active on Facebook, just search for Preston Brown, and on Instagram @prestonbrownpt. I appreciate this opportunity.
I look forward to continuing my journey to help inspire practice owners to grow without spending more time stuck in the business and shift to working on the practice.
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success and good health!