A veterinary degree can be used for more than just general practice, two speakers emphasized during a session at the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020 that delved into the details of building a business.
Drs. Pat Mahaney and Hannah Fore spoke Thursday during the session “From Main Gigs to Side Hustles: Entrepreneurship in Veterinary Medicine.” They touched on handling business challenges and provided tips for potential entrepreneurs.
The business of relief
Dr. Fore, a small animal relief veterinarian in St. Louis, has worked at many emergency and specialty practices. She started her own relief company, Foxli, in January after leaving her full-time job.
Dr. Fore doesn’t have a business background, so she has worked with a certified public accountant to set up her LLC.
She initially struggled with leaving her job and its benefits, but said that if she could go back in time, she would give herself more confidence in the transition.
“It’s going to be OK, you are going to get through this,” she said. “I am a good veterinarian, and people are going to want to have me in their clinic.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the amount of work she is doing, but she said there is a concern about job security with this work, so she is prepared for slow months, too.
Dr. Fore said things such as a business license and the cost of health insurance were hiccups for her, and she recommends research into both areas.
She said overall working for herself has been great so far.
“I’m spending more time with my family,” she said. “And I’ve been able to explore general practice.”
Dr. Fore said her best advice to veterinary professionals interested in business or relief work is to have a good website with a contact page and to “network, network, network.”
Business at home
Dr. Mahaney, founder of California Pet Acupuncture & Wellness in West Hollywood, California, said his company started as a mobile business, but he mainly does house calls and concierge-type medicine now.
“It’s a very high-touch service. Every day is a workday in some capacity,” he said. “I always wanted to have my own business. I like working with people as a team, but I also like working for myself and deciding what I want to do and when I want to do it.”
Dr. Mahaney is also a part of many side projects, including speaking engagements, and he is a part owner and chief veterinary officer of Pure Dog Food, a Los Angeles–based animal food company focused on whole foods.
Dr. Mahaney said he found fulfillment and success when he moved to Southern California and started his own business.
“My business has become more successful than I ever would have imagined,” Dr. Mahaney said. “I am very satisfied with what I do, and I love having very personal relationships with clients.”
Dr. Mahaney added that owning a business is hard, and you have to prioritize taking care of yourself.
“Every day I eat healthily. I do some kind of exercise. I have mindfulness practices. I’ve created a structure where my clients cannot always communicate with me,” he said. “I have to be able to take care of myself.”