We recently hosted a panel discussion with 3 independent practice owners who are each at various stages of their practice ownership journey. Our aim was to explore the various challenges that independent practices were experiencing whilst sharing the learnings and success’s. What are the trade-offs when it comes to balancing management with being a vet? What is the best advice these owners have been given to date?

Our session was moderated by Jim Parry of So-Brand Strategic Advisory. Jim is a Melbourne based independent business advisor, specialising in supporting organisations in creating clear strategies that engage and enable growth. Jim has extensive experience of leading teams in marketing strategy and change programs and he regularly attends and speaks at events about making strategy work and bringing growth and clarity to brands. He was joined by 3 Members of IVA who shared their experiences.

Dr Natasha Pesce, owner of Terrey Hills Animal Hospital. This mixed practice has been operating for 45 years. Natasha joined the practice after graduating in 2013 and became sole owner in late 2018.

Dr Jim Thompson, owner of Turramurra Veterinary Hospital. This family owned, independent and multi award winning hospital is based in the Ku-ring-gai area in north Sydney. Established in 2006 the hospital is now newly renovated and the North Shores only accredited Hospital of Excellence.

Dr Diana Barker, one of four partners of the Evervet Group which has three locations – Prahan, South Yarra and East Melbourne. The growth within the group has grown over many years through the dedicated team who strive to lead by example.

We gained a rich perspective on personality types and the need for courage as an owner and practice leader. This candid panel discussion also explored a number of other areas commonly known to all practice owners and managers:
• the ups and downs of being a vet and running a practice
• people management
• culture
• the adaptations needed to evolve from surviving to thriving

This discussion then lead us to ask, what common skills exist within practices that are set up for successful independence? Success always leaves clues.


In addition to broad clinical skills independent veterinary practice owners should consider:

Developing good leadership and management skills. The skills, especially business skills, that got you to where you are now will differ from those you need to effectively lead the way forward. Consider areas of capability and skill that will help you in achieving your goals and make that profitable growth a priority. However, often “we don’t know, what we don’t know… until we know!”… so find a source of proven knowledge you can tap into, such as a coach and/or mentor to help you identify your capability gaps and then fill them.
Dedicated scheduled time to work on the business. Yes we understand this is easier said than done, though success leave clues. When we talk to our members those who are most satisfied with the progress of their practice have scheduled time to work on the business, to work on building the systems and processes necessary for the business to function increasingly on “auto-pilot” through capable team members. Start by scheduling 2 hours a week and use a one-page plan to maintain your focus and accountability.
A coach with proven business resources and solutions. Save time and maximise the return on your effort by using resources which are already shown to work. Whilst you’re juggling multiple roles and priorities its invaluable to have proven resources you can tap into so you don’t waste time reinventing the wheel.
Collaboration and leverage ie. power in numbers. Consider your network, are you surrounding yourself with new insights and individuals with experience and/or expertise? There is a lot to be gained from a strong network. In terms of savings and costs, the most effective way to enhance your leverage is to join a buying group that provides the strength and negotiating power similar to that of a corporate. There is power in numbers – don’t miss a huge advantage.

We understand the needs of all veterinary businesses evolve. At IVA, our Core Purpose is – to be valued contributors to “Successful Independence”, so you can live the life you truly love, regardless of what stage of the business phase you may be at. We’ve designed comprehensive membership to benefit you, your team and your practice. With our large network of members we provide invaluable, cost-saving privileges to all Members whilst providing peace of mind, support to succeed and expertise to realise your full value.

Discover how membership can support your practice. We’re here to help.

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