Funded in Five Days: How I’m Expanding My Speech-Language Pathology Practice
Bankers Healthcare Group
One of the most important elements of life—and one that a lot of people take for granted—is speech. Speech is about more than just verbal communication. In a lot of ways, it's the cornerstone of everything we do. It's a key part of how we forge relationships with other people; it's integral to how we grow closer as a society. Speech is the foundation we use to help one another out and create memorable moments.
Ultimately, that impact is a large part of what speech-language pathology is all about. I've witnessed firsthand the impact that language therapy, voice therapy, and other types of treatment can have on a person. When someone comes into my office for the first time, I come up with a unique plan to address whatever challenge they're currently facing. Whether it's a fluency issue or a tic or aphasia. They have a problem, and speech-language pathology is often the solution.
As a speech-language pathologist, over time, your patients grow. A significant amount of progress begins to happen right in front of you. It manifests itself in different ways in different people, but the end result is always the same. Across weeks and months, I've seen people speak without any hesitations or disruptions. I've seen people get more comfortable speaking in small and even large groups. People not only acquire a unique tool in therapy, but they learn how to use it to its full effect. My patients are naturally happier, they're in better relationships, and I've even seen people get promotions as a direct result of the work we've done together.
A Good Problem to Have
Demand for someone with my expertise has always been strong, but over the last few years in particular, it's grown overwhelmingly. At a certain point, I realized I couldn’t go in on my current fashion. I had to formalize my practice into an LLC.
Once your business reaches a certain point, which mine did not too long ago, you have to think about your expansion plans. And when that day comes, it just doesn’t make sense to use your personal funds anymore.
For starters, it's not a good idea for tax purposes. You never want to mix your own money with your business funds as far as Uncle Sam is concerned. A business should be its own entity with its own history. Likewise, when you start talking about hiring other employees, suddenly you're playing an entirely different game. You need to be able to reliably pay these people. And those people will eventually want benefits. To be an attractive company—and to grow in the way you need—it’s essential to have these elements in place. You need to be able to support these markers on your path to bigger and better things.
When I first started out, I had some part-time help, but mainly it was a solo operation. People would come in and help me for a few hours a week, but that still left a large burden on myself. When I needed them, they were there. When I didn't, they weren't. But as you grow, you need people who are 100% dedicated to your practice. It’s difficult to achieve that commitment from someone working three part-time jobs, through no fault of their own.
The "Problem" with Traditional Funding
These are the types of things I was concerned about when I started my recent quest for more funding. In addition to bringing in more full-time workers and hiring another pathologist, I was also focused on conducting better and farther-reaching marketing campaigns. Additionally, I knew there was some equipment for the business I would soon need to buy.
In the past, I've used "traditional" options for funding, but the route is often difficult when they simply don't understand your business. When you borrow from a bank that doesn't know what a speech-language pathologist does, you're always fighting a battle for what you want to do and why it matters. The relationship is different. You could show a bank your numbers, show them your long-term strategy, and they'll still have a thousand questions.
It's forced business, in a lot of ways. You may eventually get your money, but you're going to cross through a significant amount of red tape to get there. Getting a personal loan to buy a boat or another house is easy. But when you say, "I need a business loan," that's when things slow down.
A Lender Who Knows
To grow my practice, I knew I needed to find a lender who viewed my request for a business loan the same way a bank would view my request for a personal loan. It was critical I find a lender who specialized in healthcare and understood my profession.
This was the point when I turned (BHG). I had heard of them from other therapists, and I knew they had a solid reputation. I had even received marketing materials from BHG in the mail at various times, but I was preoccupied with other things and let them slip away. But the stars aligned for me to make that call and it sparked an important journey.
Whatever loan I was going to get, I needed it fast, because my business wasn't just growing—it was booming. To expedite the process, I knew I had to get all my ducks in a row going for that call with BHG.
The first step was to get my prior year's tax return armed and ready. Likewise, I already had some business credit established under my business, so I could easily demonstrate that to BHG. Before I ever made the call, I went out of my way to make sure that everything was aligned to the point where I wasn't only in the best position to get a loan, but to get it fast.
Then, I picked up the phone.
A Meaningful Connection
The difference between my initial conversation with BHG and the conversations I'd had with traditional lenders in the past was night and day.
When you call a traditional lender and say: "I'm a speech-language pathologist," they automatically assume you work at a school. They don't think about all the other treatments you provide. You tell them how much money you need and they think, "Wait a minute, I know 10 other therapists who don't need a fraction of that." They don't realize those are 10 different kinds of therapists who all have other focuses. They don't understand the broad spectrum of income.
When I talked to BHG, they already knew I was a speech-language pathologist and what my work entailed. I didn’t need to waste time getting them up to speed. With that out of the way, I could let my numbers speak for themselves. I found the experience incredibly refreshing.
At that point, they wanted to make sure all of my work was ready to go—which thankfully was all done. Since the work had all been done beforehand, and the numbers looked promising, they were ready to fund me right away. After having dealt with traditional lenders in the past who can drag their feet for months, this was a huge relief.
Right there on the call, I got the loan. Five days later, I had the money.
A big part of that fast turnaround was due to my preparation. I can’t stress enough to everyone else that if you’re serious about getting funded, you need to do your work beforehand. But so much of the expedited process was because BHG was incredibly responsive. That’s why working with an organization that understands healthcare is so vital to anyone in the field. They know your industry’s challenges and the subtleties of your work. They get how you need to grow because they’ve seen it time and time again. This won’t be a transaction—it’ll be a partnership.
Having a Partner by Your Side
All it took was one simple phone call to help make my short-term plans a reality. With the funding from BHG, I'm going to conduct a number of great marketing campaigns to help raise awareness for the importance of speech-language pathology and to highlight the value we can bring to people. And not only can I increase the hours of my part-timers, but I'm also going to hire another therapist—significantly increasing the number of people we're able to help along the way. The additional therapist will provide me with some much-needed support.
Down the road, I also have my eyes set on bigger and better things. Obviously, I'm going to continue to hire more therapists as demand increases. But I'm also eager to potentially expand into additional locations in Baton Rouge, Covington, and Mandeville.
I'm in a position where I can plan for this future because I was lucky enough to find the right partner to stand by my side. Just knowing BHG not only understands my business, but they support what I'm doing and they want to see me succeed, means all the difference in the world.
In a lot of ways, making the connection between myself and BHG is a lot like the connection I make with my own patients. Like my patients, I came to BHG with a problem. One that didn't necessarily have an easy or even straightforward solution. But not only did they make it seem like it was the easiest problem in the world, they immediately let me know that we were in this together. They wanted to support me and help me improve my life. By helping me improve my life, I now get to help even more patients improve theirs.