Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Advanced Eyecare, LLC: An Interview with Owner Peter Lombard MD

By: Denise Mendiola-Hertslet
Senior Business Advisor/WIB Coordinator
(Guam SBDC)

Freedom, Opportunity, and Service are the foundation blocks of Advanced Eyecare, LLC and the reasons why Peter Lombard MD decided to venture on his own to open up an ophthalmology clinic. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Peter on his journey in opening his business.

Please tell us about yourself and your family.

My mom and dad came to Guam in 1975 and built a house in Pago Bay where they still live.  I have an older sister in Hawaii and my brother Gabe lives with me on Guam. I came back to Guam in 2010 after spending a number of years off island for college, medical school, residency training, and military service.  I am leaving the U.S. Navy this summer to start my own ophthalmology clinic.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

Freedom, opportunity, service.  I have the opportunity to build something special and long-lasting, from the ground up.  My business will provide a service that is tremendously useful to our community, and that makes me very proud.  There’s something particularly liberating about being your own boss, and it’s empowering to know that the success and failure of your business rests only on your shoulders.

What experience do you have in this type of business?

I have no prior business experience running a private medical clinic, but I have the technical expertise to treat patients.  This is a problem many doctors face, and remains a big hurdle for many doctors when contemplating starting their own private practice.

How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?

The hardest part for me initially was understanding the steps in the process.  Not having any prior business experience, even simple terms were hard for me to grasp at first.  I was assigned an advisor, Denise Mendiola, and she worked closely with me through each step.  She provided me with the Word and Excel templates I needed, and when I would get stuck on a certain section she helped me complete these parts.  She made sure I was moving forward at a steady pace, periodically asking how things were going and offering further assistance.  She has been an invaluable asset for me and I’m very grateful for her help!

What was the start-up process like?

After establishing the LLC, I determined what equipment costs I would have, the staffing I would need, and located a place to start my business.  I drafted a business plan and financial projections to submit with my loan application. Once approved for the loan, I acquired the medical equipment and clinic management systems needed to run a clinic, negotiated contracts with the local insurance carriers, hired and trained staff, and started to see patients. It all seems simple written out like this but this took about 6 months and was very stressful at times.
How did you fund your business?

I applied for a business loan, but also used significant personal savings for the startup costs.  Approximately 70% of startup costs were financed with the business loan, 30% from personal savings.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced in the start-up process?

I struggled a bit with the financial projections.  For my particular business it is hard to estimate the sales of the services I provide, because it is very different for each patient.  I’m not selling items at a fixed cost from inventory. 

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?

Putting the LLC certificate up on the wall is always a nice feeling.  But I’ll never forget the day the network was hooked up and all the computers and software was working the way they are supposed to!  You live and die by your IT support!

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?

Short term: establish consistent patient base, grow the practice over the first 2 years and establish my clinic as a center of excellence in Guam. Long term: build a new eye clinic with room for significant growth and expansion.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?

Definitely avail yourself of the services offered by SBDC.  Set reasonable time goals, and understand it’s a long process.  Put in the time and hours when required to get things off the ground when it’s crunch time.  Dream big.  Always look for more opportunities, and don’t be afraid to talk to people about your plans – you never know how they might be able to help you or what insight they can give.

For more information on how Guam SBDC can assist you, contact their office 671-735-2590 or visit www.pacificsbdc.com