Editorial: Don’t Lose the Forest (Veterinary Vision) for the Trees (Veterinary Headaches)

by Hunter Little

I want to change gears for a moment and step back from the business of veterinary medicine, whether it be large or small, tech-based or what-have-you. Generally speaking, I’m a big picture person, I enjoy stepping back to see the greater vision that comes together from all those small details and little intricacies. It is very easy, particularly when it comes to small businesses and veterinary medicine (either together or separately), to get caught up in the day-to-day demands. So, for today, I want to be the little voice in your head that tells you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think back to the bigger picture (whatever it may be for you, personally).

I ask you to do this because of a conversation I had yesterday with a friend of mine regarding the job-searching process.  She told me how, in her interview, she had expressed interest in taking the position, but wasn’t willing to commit fully because she was waiting for other offers to come in. She spoke about the possibility of a “more exciting offer” coming in at the last minute and not wanting to miss that opportunity, hinting at her underlying indecision regarding her potential career path. I didn’t think too much of her comments at the time, but, for whatever reason, I returned to them later in my mind. I thought about how I might react were I a small business owner, or a practice owner trying to hire a newly graduated vet. I considered how confusing and vexing such comments might be, how that kind of hesitation and noncommittal approach must feel to someone trying to expand their business.

Granted, this is just one example, and, in all fairness, it may seem like I am being a little harsh on my friend. But there is an underlying reality here. These kinds of tasks are the little things that we can get caught up in; the hiring and firing, the daily management and oversight, the training of new staff, etc. Even more importantly, it can be very discouraging to hear that someone you’ve taken the time to interview one-on-one and extend a job offer to hasn’t bought in to your practice and its ideals, or isn’t willing to commit.

I heard a similar story not too long ago from a vet and practice owner, who came away from the experience confused and uncertain about the nature of his practice. In hindsight, all I can say is this: don’t miss the forest for the trees. Do your best to recognize when you have zeroed in too far and have lost sight of big picture; YOUR big picture. Remember, you’re the small business owner. This product that you have put forth is crafted from your vision of how veterinary medicine should be. Take stock of that vision, and if its blocked by a mountain, make sure it isn’t just a mole hill without perspective. I don’t mean this as a preachy, sports-movie-coach’s-speech moment. Rather, I’m simply trying to maintain some sense of perspective in spite of the myriad issues that plague a small business owner. If anything, take this as a friendly reminder to step back, take a deep breath, and don’t lose the forest for the trees.

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Hunter Little

Hunter Little graduated from Columbia University in 2016 with a degree in US History. He has worked in veterinary clinics owned by his family for years and is currently training for a chance at playing in the NFL.

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