Business Talk: Career change

5 business options to consider outside chiropractic
Anthony Lombardi
November 23, 2017
Written by
Rising business costs, government mandated minimum wage increases, hikes in chiropractic licence fees, spikes in our association premiums, cut-backs by insurance companies and changes in the auto injury guidelines – these are only some of the barriers chiropractors have to deal with when running their practice. These obstacles are enough to drive the most successful practices out of business.

These hurdles are no different than the plights of any business owners and are only part of the reason why some chiropractors are looking to make a career change. The truth is, no matter how well things are going, these “nickel and dime” expenses are enough to motivate even the most successful DCs to leave the profession.

It is healthy for us to at least imagine what we would do should we decide to change careers and exit chiropractic. I have no plans to leave the profession – but I have seriously researched other business opportunities. If you are thinking about leaving the profession, then doing your homework is essential to making a smooth successful transition.

Here are five business alternatives to consider.

That’s right. I am not referring to a Motel 6 or some other franchise. I mean one of those “mom and pop” motels that have 20 to 30 rooms. In the U.S., the average room rate is about US$60 during high season and most of these motels are located on main stretches of road, which motorists have to travel along to reach fairs, swap-meets, and car shows. Further, gamers need a place to stay during the various openings of hunting and fishing season. With the widespread use of the internet, there will be no shortage of customers, and during the winter season, you can rent the rooms by the week for $75 to $85 or $250 per month to cover your expenses.

Movie theatre
Owning a small private cinema away from large metropolitan cities can be very profitable. These theatres have two to four viewing rooms which seat a maximum of 60 people. The key to success is to carry movies that were released two or three months ago. This way you pay minimal licensing fees to the studio who made the film – yet it’s still recent enough that people would consider seeing it. Furthermore, theatres provide additional avenues to generate income as the markup on popcorn, snacks and fountain drinks are over 1,000 per cent. Many people, my wife and I included, enjoy going to the movies even though technologies and devices exist to enable viewing newly released movies on TV. Going to the movies is a night out and people who live in medium size cities appreciate and utilize this service.

Everyone needs to wash their clothes and new research suggests that people of all socio-economic backgrounds are using laundromats. The attraction is that laundromats can be open 24/7 and they deal exclusively with cash. The machines are leased so that when they breakdown the repairs are warranted and some laundromats run themselves with change and product dispensing machines without the need for any regular on-duty staff. If you keep the place clean and machines maintained, you will attract repeat customers.

Dry cleaners
Steven V. Dubin from reports that in North America the largest percentage of millionaires are owners of dry cleaning businesses. This was confirmed by three financial consultants I spoke to in the Greater Toronto Area. A record number of people earning above the national average are using dry cleaners because they simply do not have the time or the skill to wash and neatly press their clothes. Dry cleaners can buy or lease the equipment needed and pay a small staff minimum wage to run it. And, as long as your customers remain gainfully employed you will be servicing their clothes.

Hair salon
This is the business I would run if I left chiropractic. I would become a hairstylist and run my own salon because the chiropractic business and the hair business are very similar.

Like a chiropractor, the hairstylist needs to gain the trust of their client and that consumer relationship becomes stronger with every successful service. If you provide good work you will have these clients for many years and they will refer many new customers your way. In addition, as a salon owner, I could rent other chairs to other stylists and generate revenue from their work. Then I could add complimentary services like esthetics, waxing, and even RMT.

As chiropractors we become businessmen and businesswomen. Treating patients is less than half of what we do if we own and manage a chiropractic business. However, it is this experience that can prove vital if we look to transfer our skills to a business outside the health-care arena.

Dr. Anthony Lombardi is consultant to athletes in the NFL, CFL and NHL, and founder of the Hamilton Back Clinic in Hamilton, Ont. He teaches his fundamental EXSTORE Assessment System and conducts practice-building workshops to health professionals. Visit for information.


0 #15 Anthony 2018-01-08 20:44
I agree with that running a hair salon & also being a Hairstylist is similar to Choropractic business. As a hairstylist for 16 years I have made many realtioships not only with my clients but also with my employees and have been fortunate enough to keep these relationships for many years. I’am always willing try new things and add new services to my business, to help grow my business. I love providing a service that helps people look great and to give them confidence and promote a positive atmosphere!!
0 #14 PHIL SETTELS 2017-12-30 20:08
I'm an acupuncturist/ CM practitioner in the US. Acu like chiro can be many things. It can be a passion and calling, or a job and paycheck, or a combination of both. Many fail, and that's the reality of running a business in any field.

I appreciate anyone who contributes with honesty and candor. Dr. Anthony does that with technical knowledge and skills related to his profession (the reason he's the only non-CM acupuncturist I've chosen to learn from), and here he's doing it with his own opinion based on research, interviews, and philosophical musings.

This article clearly won't apply to or resonate with everyone, but there's nothing truly offensive here. It's simply financial musings from an experienced practitioner along the lines of the hypothetical "what would you do if you weren't a ____".
0 #13 PHIL SETTELS 2017-12-30 20:02
I'm an acupuncturist running a modestly successful clinic while also teaching Chinese Medicine courses and running a CM doctorate program at our local Acupuncture college.

Being an acupuncturist (like being a chiro) can be many things. A passion, a calling, a job, a paycheck, a means to an end, an end in and of itself. Not all acu's (again, like chiro's) find success, because running a business is inherently difficult and businesses in all fields fail.

While I am passionate about my career, patients, and the medicine itself, I appreciate anyone who speaks candidly about their experience, perspective and in this case business musings. That's what this article is. It is philosophical musing from a successful healer, regarding what would be an educated alternate field should someone choose to make a switch.

It's not a slight or an insult to the field, and doesn't have to be taken as such.
0 #12 Kenneth V. 2017-12-27 17:35
This is the kind of article that can bring out the best and the worst in professionals.

There will be those who take offence to the thought of someone leaving chiropractic and pursuing a business that is "beneath them" and those who will think that there may be a good investment opportunity in one of those businesses either instead of or in conjunction with their chiropractic business.

The truth of the matter is a percentage of professionals, I have read approximately 30% within the first 10 years of practice end up leaving their chosen profession to pursue something else. That may not be you but it may be one of your colleagues.

I see nothing offensive in throwing some business ideas out there to someone who may be in a position of needing to change their course in life.
0 #11 Dimitri 2017-12-27 00:14
I am definitely not planning on leaving my profession however, love to get involved in other businesses. At the end of the day I am a healthcare provider as well as an entrepreneur. Like the laundromat idea!
0 #10 Joshua 2017-12-22 22:58
We commonly see this in our profession in the States. The kind of passionate reactions to such an article that in reality does not actually reduce or minimize the profession.

At the end of the day it is about making a living, and there are people in the health professions that are considering a change, for many reasons. Burnout, change in laws, rules, and regulations, the complexities that get in the way working with patients, etc. That is the reality of it.

I can't see Dr. Lombardi - as successful and passionate about his practice as he is - looking to diminish the field. It could just be people's perception and resulting knee jerk reactions of having to "protect" the reputation of the profession, even though it wasn't really attacked to begin with.
0 #9 Charlie Sylvester 2017-12-22 13:49
I can totally understand where you're coming from in this article, Dr. Lombardi. I am a licensed acupuncturist and face many of the same hurdles in my own profession. I too have considered a career change on more than one occasion but when I really stop to think about it, this is what I love doing and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm not 100% sure why so many people are getting twisted over your article but I feel as if you're just voicing what we've all thought at one point in time. Just because you have this opinion or view doesn't mean that you don't respect your own profession or even yourself as a professional. It simply means that you're practical, cautious and not afraid of change. If anyone knows Dr. Lombardi, he is one of the most business savvy individuals that I know and he would be successful whatever he put his mind to. He is not only business savvy but he is also a very generous and influential teacher who has a passion for spreading his knowledge with others.
0 #8 Matthew 2017-12-22 12:16
This piece is actually very insightful, for a number of reasons. By "cross training" and looking at a variety of businesses, how they are run, what challenges one would face, what the market is like for x service, etc., we gain valuable insights into our own chosen profession.

Furthermore, by really envisioning what our lives would be like owning a motel, hair salon, real estate, etc., we can compare that life to the one we have now. It can be powerfully affirmative - yes, I'm doing what I want to be doing; yes, I can deal with the nickel-and-dime obstacles; yes, I made the right decision going into the profession.
0 #7 Richard Lebert 2017-12-22 12:13
Interesting post to help challenge the idea that a chiropractor is just a chiropractor.

In order to be successful in the profession clinicians need to develop strong business acumen. A skill that can be transferred into many different fields should there be a need (eg. retirement, unplanned injury, change in passion).
0 #6 Dr. Anthony 2017-12-22 10:27
Dear Not A Hairstylist:

Kindly read the 40 previous articles I have written prior to this one. They all nurture the growth and development of the profession by helping DCs save money and grow their patient base.

This article is not the first of its kind. The last CC survey demonstrated that 25% of DCs make under $49k. All the lines of work I mentioned make significantly more than that so they are nothing to be ashamed of. Further - the true entrepreneur will look beyond the print to use this piece to draw how the parallels between chiropractic business and other businesses can help them grow and develop.

I wish I knew your name but for some reason you felt the need to conceal it.

Merry Christmas:)

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