3 Things to Consider When Starting a Veterinary Practice

by Sam D Meisler DVM

VeterinarianIf you’re planning on starting a veterinary practice — a million and one thoughts are likely racing through your head. Trust me, I know the feeling — but as long as you remain focused on the task at hand, everything will begin to fall into place.

Although highly specialized in terms of your objectives, opening your own practice needs to be viewed like any other business. In order to succeed, you’ll need to plan ahead and adjust your goals based on your evolving objectives.

If one thing is certain, you have an exciting journey ahead. As long as you break this one large (yet exciting) goal into smaller, more attainable steps, you’ll be well on your way.

First, you’ll need to consider the following…

There is no doubt that it takes a certain type of individual to start a veterinary practice. Although you may be a veterinary first and foremost, you also display key entrepreneur qualities — including a high level of passion and willingness to take educated risks.

Of course, your overall mission is to build a profitable business — but at the heart of it all, you will also want to build a practice that provides excellent service and quality medicine. In order to achieve these challenging, yet attainable goals, you’ll need to take a few key steps.

1. Write a business plan

Whether you’re opening a veterinary practice or a restaurant, every business owner needs to plan ahead. With only a loose strategy in place, how will you ever implement your current objectives? Begin to ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What is my core mission and how will I achieve success?
  • What will I offer my clients — and more importantly, who will my clients be?
  • What will be my edge over the competition?
  • How will I market my new practice and what will my sales strategy be?

If you are looking for ideas and some key examples, the Australian Veterinary Practice Management Association offers a thorough guide that you can check out here.

2. Establish your location and team

When choosing a location, you need to think about the current demand. This will be one of the most important considerations in terms of sustainable success. Also, make sure you do some market research. Find out more about the local demographics, so you can find a location that will meet the needs of your target market.

When it comes to your team, think about not only your immediate staff, but also the professionals who will provide key services. In most cases, a new veterinary practice will require assistance from experts such as a local attorney, an insurance representative, a financial advisor and even a strategic mentor who has already taken this exciting journey.

3. Seek funding opportunities

Right now, you need to make a list that includes all of your start-up requirements. Some examples include:

  • Legal services
  • Rent
  • Equipment
  • Systems for bookkeeping, scheduling, etc.
  • Promotion
  • Initial operating costs

You need to be practical in terms of your expenses and projected cash flow. To begin, prepare a 12-month projection. Estimate your potential revenue, expenses, debt financing and your minimum salary.

Next, explore all of your options — including possible grants. Look into grants that cover aspects of animal research, focusing on both private and public opportunities. When lending money, always be mindful of three key areas: the principal, the term and the interest rate.

At the end of the day, you need to make decisions based on what’s best for you and your practice. Your goal is to meet the needs of your clients, so be sure to automate as many systems as possible. This will free up precious time and energy, so that you can focus on what really matters — taking care of those who do not have a voice.




EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.

Picking a Location for Your New Startup Veterinary Practice

by Sam D Meisler DVM

Starting veterinary practice - Location
Starting veterinary practice – Location

When looking for a location to start a veterinary practice, there are several considerations you need to take into account. By considering the demographics of the local population, you can ensure you open your practice in a location where there is plenty of demand for your service. Here are a few of the most important factors to consider.

Population Within 5 Miles

People don’t like to travel a long way to take a sick pet to the vet. They are much more likely to choose a vet in their local area than one far away. Looking at the size of the population within 5 miles gives you an idea of the maximum possible size of your client base. If you choose a location that is miles out of town, you’ll have to work incredibly hard to convince people your service is worth the drive.

Local Demographics

The population size of the town you plan to set up in is not the only factor that affects the maximum number of clients your practice can attract. You need to know some basic facts about the people living in the local area. Most importantly, how many of them are pet owners? Pet ownership varies widely by area. For example, more than 70 percent of households in Vermont own a pet, compared to just over half of households in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. You can use these statewide statistics to estimate the number of pet owners in the area around your planned location, or conduct your own market research to get a more localized picture of pet ownership.

Household Income

To make your veterinary practice a viable business, you need to attract customers who can afford to pay for the services you offer. Use local household income data to find out which neighborhoods are home to pet owners who can afford to pay for their pets to have the best veterinary care.


When you think you have found the perfect location for your new veterinary practice, don’t forget to find out whether there are already vets operating in the area. Competition isn’t necessarily a reason to reject an attractive area, but you will need to think about how you can differentiate yourself from the businesses already established there. What will you offer to entice pet owners away from their current vets? Longer opening hours? Lower prices? Specialist services? These are all questions you need to ask before deciding to go head-to-head with an established competitor.

Suitable Spaces

Once you have pinned down the area where you want to open your veterinary practice, you need to find a suitable space in which to open your business. One option is to rent a retail space, which gives you the opportunity to try out the local market without the commitment of buying or building a free standing structure to house your practice. However, if you decide you want to stay in the area, building or buying your own property can provide long term financial benefits.


Opening a veterinary practice requires a huge amount of investment, so it makes sense not to skimp on research when picking a location. When you understand the local population and the competition you will face if you choose to set up your practice in a particular area, you can tailor your services to increase your business’s chance of success.

EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.

Mentorship in the Veterinary Practice

by Sam D Meisler DVM

Guidance from a senior veterinary associate.

In a study of career path choices in the early post-graduate, “more than a third (38.0%) of respondents reported leaving a position solely because of inadequate mentorship and support.” Canadian Veterinary Journal, 2009 Sep; 50(9): 943–948.   As a practice owner for almost 20 years, I have learned that the true problem lies more in an expectation mismatch on the part of both the practice employer and the new veterinarian graduate.

New graduate veterinarians enter the work force with the expectation that their new employers will complete the incomplete education that they received at veterinary school.  On the other hand, practice owners are looking for competent associate veterinarians willing to adapt to their practice environment and culture. And both – after a few months into the relationship – can get increasingly frustrated with each other.  The fundamental issue is that even though most veterinarians enter the work force in pursuit of general veterinary practice, our veterinary schools and colleges are graduating veterinarians who are not prepared for it on day one. As a result, the idea of mentorship to solve this problem has been introduced to the new veterinary graduate.

Unfortunately, mentorship in the world of business and mentorship to a new graduate have two completely different meanings. As a veterinary business owner, I define mentorship as the assimilating and guiding of a new graduate into the practice culture by a mentor. Many new graduates, however, see the mentor as their new professor responsible for teaching them the needed skills to become a more confident and competent veterinarian. Yes, all of our more experienced associates are happy and willing to assist the new graduate with acquiring new skills. The expectation at our practice, however, is that the mentee is ultimately responsible to make sure this happens, and the mentor is there to guide and assist in how best to navigate that training within the confines of our company culture. As Chris Myers, CEO and co-founder of BodeTree, says in Forbes Magazine, “Too many young professionals fail to realize that mentorship is a two-way street. You have to deliver tremendous value to your mentor as well, and that often means working longer and harder than those around you.”

We solve this expectation mismatch by asking the new graduate in the interview process what their expectations are and what they define mentorship as.  We then clarify what our definition is.  And we explain that we will help guide their assimilation into our practice culture.  We also expect them to identify areas where they need skill development and to take our advice on how to develop those skills. We do not say we will be responsible for teaching those new skills.  We will guide them in their education and teach them how to use the resources available to learn new skills. Ultimately our goal is to develop an associate veterinarian who learns throughout his or her career.