This Is The Business Model I Developed To Open My Optometry Practice Cold

Dec 29, 2015
6 min read

These are seven questions my partner and I answered to help develop our business model to open our optometry practice cold.


Now that you’ve made the decision that you want to be your own boss and run your own optometry practice, let’s discuss some of the fundamental questions to get you started.

In grade school, everyone was taught to ask the 5 “W” questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why.  Thinking in terms of business, let’s add in two “H” questions: How, and How Much.

Your responses to these questions are the groundwork for a successful, well thought out business plan.

So let’s get started!


This is a BIG question. What population do you want to serve? Knowing your target audience will help determine everything else: the insurances you take, what products you offer, equipment you purchase, what your schedule will be like, etc….

Consider the following options:

  • Traditional Care
  •  Specialty Care:
    • Medical optometry
    • Pediatric care
    • Vision therapy
    • Neuro-rehabilitation
    • Corneal re-shaping
    • Low Vision

Tip #1: Don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Focus on a few areas optometry that you want to excel in to set your practice apart from all the others! Our optometry practice has a primary emphasis on vision therapy.


What type of business are you looking to set up? Private practice, corporate optometry practice, optical-like set-up?

Depending on what you looking to do, check out these great articles:


Although you may not be setting up shop in a busy city,  location is still one of the most important decisions you will make when opening up your optometry practice.

You have to consider these questions:

  • Do you want to be on your town’s main street?
  • Do you want to practice within a medical office building?
  • Do you have an interest in practicing in a free-standing building?
  • Do you want to rent or buy?

When my partner and I were choosing a location we focused on and asked ourselves the following things:

  • Looked at the population census in the town we wanted to be in (gives metrics on patient population, ages, income and other demographics).
  • Considered and analyzed other optometric/eye care professionals in the area.
  • How visible and accessible would the practice be?
  • Was getting to the office a relatively easy commute for patients? For us?

Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to open up close to other eyecare providers. If you offer excellent care with a service others don’t provide, you will be successful!


What is your timeline?

Are you giving yourself 6 months?

A year?

Is this a 5 year goal?

Once you know your timeline, you can then start to figure out what things need to be done and when.

My partner and I set a goal for wanting to be open in 6 months, so we established strict timelines of when things needed to be done in order to reach that milestone.

In my next article, I will share with you our specific timeline and how we managed to stay on schedule!


What are your reasons for wanting to be your own boss or to own your own practice? Check out this article on knowing your roles, core values,  and primary aim so you can fully understand who you are and what you want out  life.

Once you know these things, you can than build a business based around what is going to fulfill you and your lifestyle.

Figuring out “why,” will help define the culture of your practice.


How are you going to do this?  This seems like the question that might just make you think twice about being your own boss because it is an overwhelming thought to realize you are going to be in complete control of your own future.

For this question, I refer to a message my mentor sent to me as I was going through the process of opening cold:

“It’s normal to be afraid, I personally confront fear almost daily.  But with consistent action comes confidence. Remember the board breaking?  You can’t have faith and fear at the same time. So every time you get the butterflies, just confront them by saying:

“"This is normal and expected, I’d be crazy if I was not nervous. But I have Faith in my ability to fulfill the goals and values I’ve set for myself. “”

Remember, if you set your mind to something and have prepared yourself properly, nothing can stop you.

We will discuss the intricate “hows” in later posts, but consider this question in the early stages of your planning.


Money is the catalyst to achieve your dream practice. I recommend you figure out what you need versus what you want.

This will vary for every doctor.

Some think it is important to have the latest technology and feel they cannot practice without the most up-to-date diagnostic equipment, where other doctors  feel they just need a phoropter, a slit lamp and a pen light.

My partner and I made a few lists:

  • What we ABSOLUTELY needed (equipment, space, technology, etc…)
  • What would make our lives easier, but not required
  • Wish list for the future

In my next article, I will also share with you what equipment we purchased, and what equipment we plan to purchase in the future.

If you can answer all of these questions you are on the right track to opening your own business!

My partner and I decided we wanted to open up cold, set up shop in a free-standing medical building, take very few insurances, focus on excellent primary care and vision therapy (no optical!), and really raise the level of care on Eastern Long Island.

We have been open for 4 months are doing well! I am excited to share with you how we’ve accomplished this over the last year! Stay tuned for upcoming articles where I will go into detail on how we made this all happen!


My hope is that all of you new graduates see the potential of vision therapy, the vast amount of people it can help and how many lives you can change! Don’t be afraid to take on a challenging case, there are plenty of resources for you.

Check out these COVD Resources:

  • Learn what COVD has to offer students and residents!
  • Sign up for your FREE COVD membership here!
  • Already a member of COVD? Access programs and benefits here.
  • Come experience the ‘COVD Family’ in person this April–Travel Grants available!
About Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD

Miki Lyn Zilnicki, O.D. graduated with honors from the SUNY College of Optometry in New York, receiving the VSP Excellence in Primary Care and Excellence in Vision Therapy awards. She then continued her education by completing a residency in vision …

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