From the facilities system now to the financial system – as we proceed through the creation cycle things are getting more solid, more down to brass tacks, more in the realm of yin.
The financial system can be the center of significant dysfunction and anxiety in acupuncture business – really any business. The majority of people in the US are not given basic financial skills, and in business you often need more than basic skills. Our cultures and families also share attitudes and issues around money that can make dealing with it challenging emotionally. And, to state the obvious, when money isn’t flowing well – it can feel like an endless stressor. It’s really no wonder the financial systems of many acupuncture clinics need work.
Taking the time to work through the financial structure of your practice will reward you with the clarity you need to make confident decisions as your business grows. It’s worth the discomfort!
The financial system governs the care and keeping of the financial resources that flow through your business.
This includes high-level strategic issues discussed during business planning such as legal business structure and bookkeeping methods. It also involves more practical matters including banking, credit card processing and understanding business credit and debt. The financial system is also deeply connected to business model matters. Will you take health insurance? Bill for motor vehicle accidents? Plan on offering memberships or packages?
Some types of acupuncture practices will have more complex financial systems than others. You complicate your business finances by scaling up operations, adding employees, adding significant retail or hospitality portions to the business, or by billing insurance in-house. These and other complexities add pressure to the management of this system.
Finance is a system that most acupuncturists will want to populate with lots of contracted professionals and robust services.
Unless you have background in finance it’s important to leave the more official work to people who have that experience. This is particularly true regarding taxes, which inevitably involve detailed bookkeeping, both things best handled by people with specialties in those fields. And again, if the business is more complex, it’s more likely to need hands-on help from a qualified professional.
Don’t be afraid to pay for help – it will be worth it in the long run.
I associate the financial business system with the Metal phase element
I associate metal with refinement. It is the only human manufactured phase element, and even if interpreted as “ore” represents a crystallization of the Earth. In human hands it becomes the material for shield, sword and many other tools. It can be used to forcefully demarcate an edge, a boundary. Metal defines, defends, and controls. Metal is hard for some people to relate to – especially compared to vital wood or comforting fire. But as I describe some of the symbolism associated with metal, and reflect on the financial system, you will see the important role it can play in helping you move forward in your business.
Metal is associated with autumn & harvest
One of the reasons your acupuncture clinic exists is to make money, ideally some of it for you. You should be able to harvest enough from it to sustain your life – and then some. Just like in raising agricultural crops, getting a reliable yield from a business doesn’t happen by accident. There are rules for input and output, there are appropriate timelines and decision points, and above all, there is careful observation and management.
Metal’s edge, its discernment and boundary creation is a good symbolic match for the energy needed here. Harvest is too important to be left to chance, and finance, when left to its own devices will quickly turn into a tangle of weeds!
Metal reminds us to balance the breath in and breath out
Lung and Large Intestine symbolism is very helpful when thinking through issues of acupuncture business finance. Finding new streams of revenue, ensuring your pricing is keeping up with inflation (at least) and actively working to optimize the flow of money into the practice is of course critical. That’s the breath in, and it’s the foundation of business as we know it. But neglect to let anything go, and you will run foul of the maxim that you must spend money to make money. Understanding the outflow side of your business finance, and how to maximize its returns, is that Large Intestine control that is the unsung hero of the body of your practice.
As with the other business systems, think through the financial system of your current or future acupuncture business.
Going back to our purpose of addressing overwhelm, as with the other business systems, you’ll want to quickly get your bearings on your financial system. This may be challenging if you haven’t started your business yet, or it has been a while since you’ve really gotten into your financials. So, keep it as surface level as you need to complete the exercise for now.
What sort of team have you assembled to help you with the financial matters you don’t have the skill to handle? How is the communication within the team? Do you have regularly updated financial books, and do you understand your reports from your bookkeeper or bookkeeping software? What’s going on with the bank accounts?
Use the diagram provided to help you think through some of the relevant issues while you think about that metal symbolism. Can you discern where metal relates to whatever situation is coming up for you? Next, we descend into the Water and discuss the marketing system of your acupuncture business.