Mistake #21 — Overstaffing the Startup

It is more rewarding to be complicit with scarcity than excess.
— Will Oldham

When it comes to staffing your startup urgent care, being a minimalist at the start makes sense. Why hire several urgent care receptionists, an xray technologist, a registered nurse, a physician assistant, and other ancillary staff up front? Before you get very busy, you the physician will be intimately involved with the care of each and every urgent care patient.

See if your state requires a certified radiology technician; if not, maybe a nurse or medical assistant can become certified to shoot the x-rays for your startup urgent care. If you are only seeing five patients per day for a few months, you may want to install a buzzer at the front desk and use an MA to double as the receptionist. Many startup urgent care centers find that this bare-bones arrangement works fine at an average of one (or less) patient per hour.

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But what if you don’t have enough staff to handle the patients rushing into your doors? Fantastic! You don’t have a problem. You have a great opportunity. It’s not a problem if a football team scores over one hundred points, but the scoreboard only holds two-digit scores. It is not much of a problem for Bill Gates if his bank statement can’t handle enough zeros to print out his account balance. In the same way, it is no big deal if your patient volume overwhelms your initial staffing model. It only takes a few weeks to hire and train more staff.

But what if growth early on is relatively modest—as it is with most startup businesses? Paying staff to sit around waiting for patients is very expensive. Letting staff go is even more demoralizing, as staff are always looking over their shoulders to see if they might be next. But firing staff early on is painful for you, puts a pall on staff emotions, and gives the staff a feeling that the center is a failing endeavor.

Hedge your bets. Start with a bare-bones staff to minimize your up-front expenses and maximize the chance for your startup urgent care to succeed. You can always hire more staff later.