The decision to open a cold start practice can be daunting, not to mention when you’re just 1 year out of optometry school. That hasn’t stopped Dr. Audrey Raley from following her passion, however. As a student at the University of Houston College of Optometry she always had the thought of practice ownership in the back of her mind, even though she was often shy about raising her hand when guest lecturers or teachers polled her classmates for people interested in opening their own practice. When she graduated in May 2017, she took the path most traveled: interviewing with practice owners looking for associate doctors. But she was constantly conflicted by the contracts she was being presented, asking her for a long-term commitment. She knew her heart lay in going out on her own.
After a push forward from a local doctor and her personal mentor inspiring and encouraging her to follow her dreams, Dr. Raley began the process to open cold. One of her first steps in the process was seeking the help of advisors, since she felt unprepared for the business aspects of new practice ownership so soon out of optometry school. Working with Dr. Eric Baas and Dr. Robert Steinmetz of iCare Advisors, she’s learned how to navigate the surprising number of people she’s needed on her team to get her practice off the ground – from real estate brokers to leasing agents.
As a young female so soon out of school, she has also faced some challenges that are specifically due to how she looks (young, and female). Knowing that many of the people she’ll be working within getting her business up in running may be skeptical that she has the credentials and preparation to make her a successful entrepreneur, seeing their doubt in her abilities has made her that much more determined to launch her practice and make it a success. How does she give herself that boost of confidence needed to convince others she has what it takes? She is an avid reader of female-driven business literature, citing How Women Rise as a source of inspiration. Her mirror is also home to motivational post-it notes and mantras to help her remind herself of the strength each day will take.
We talk finding mentors, gathering a team, and learning how to be a boss in eyecare and in life on this week’s podcast! You can follow along with Dr. Raley’s journey towards opening her practice on Instagram by following her at @doc_raley_od.