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Embracing Truth: Physical Therapy Business Insights with Jamey Schrier

Karen Tanso, CEO of Inchstones PT

Today's interview features Jamey Schrier, physical therapist, entrepreneur, business coach, and owner of Practice Freedom U. During this interview we dive deep into all things business, mindset, and betting on yourself when considering starting a cash based practice. Jamey emphasizes the importance of being vulnerable, seeking truth, and being willing to learn about yourself in order to become the best entrepreneur you can be. He talks us through the misconceptions of "needing approval" that we all struggle with as professionals, and encourages physical therapists out there that they are experts in their field when they come out of school.

What we're covering:

I'd love to hear more from you about yourself and your story

Jamey: Well, Morgan, I appreciate you having me on the show. I love the DPT CEO concept idea; it pretty much sums up my story. I've been a practice owner, a private practice owner, for over 15 years. It's interesting because when I first started, like many people do, it was just me putting out my shingle with a woman at the front who was my fiancée at the time, who is now my wife. We had a blast; it was fun. I was the one in the back, and she did the front; it was great. Then we started to grow, and when you grow, you need help. When you need help, you add people. And you make the mistake, as I did, that you think everyone thinks like you and comes early, stays late, gets their stuff done, and communicates. And you know, that's not really the case.

Not everyone thinks and acts and does everything like you. So that was a little bit of an eye-opener when I started to add staff, you know, front desk. We ended up getting married, and she got pregnant, so I had to get a front desk person, had to get an aide, had to hire another therapist, and all this other stuff. And things started to get really stressful. This was probably three, four years into business, and I imagine any business owners out there would realize that it can really start getting stressful. It got really bad, where I was like, "This, this is not what I signed up for." I was starting to have some problems at home with my wife, and physical stuff; I was really anxious all the time. And then it was like somebody hit the reset button.

We went on a very rare getaway for a weekend, and we were coming back home, phone rang, not the phones that we have now, but, you know, like the old flip phone. Phone rang, and it was my father-in-law, and my wife's smile went down. And I go, and I'm driving, she goes, "What?" And I go, "What's going on?" She goes, "I think your building's on fire." And, oh my gosh, without missing a beat, I turned, I said, "Good, I hope it's my suite, and I hope it burns down." So we literally drove, my wife and my baby, straight to our office, and lo and behold, the entire suite burned out. And, Morgan, I wasn't upset; I wasn't really in shock. I was just relieved. And people are like, "Why are you relieved?" I go, "You ever had a snow day when you were younger? I'm an East Coast guy, Northeast, and the greatest thing in the world is no school tomorrow, snow day. That's what I felt like. I felt like, well, I'm not going to work on Monday."

I didn't realize I wouldn't be going to work for four months, but it gave me time to think and contemplate. And I actually contemplated quitting because I was like, "This is hard; this is not what I want to do." And so many of my other friends were like, doing really well, and they didn't have the schooling I did; they didn't sacrifice the way I did. So anyways, I decided to make a decision, say, "You know what? I'm going to build a business that's going to be a real business. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm going to learn how." So I spent the next nine years after that fire investing in business, investing in coaches, investing in programs, reading books. I wasn't a huge reader; I started reading books.

Nine years later, I created a business, not overly big, about 1.4 million, two locations, but I didn't have to go in every day. I could go in a few hours a week; I was making good money. I had a great team, good systems in place, all the stuff that we want, all the stuff we hear about. It's just really difficult to do, but I did it. And then I shared my story, and then, not intentionally, people started reaching out to me and saying, "Can you help me do what you did?" I said, "I guess so." I started coaching, and ten years later, I'm still coaching. Ended up selling my practices because I just love coaching and helping other people build and grow their businesses and their dreams. So that's my story.

How do you go about like finding the right mentors or like finding the right information?

Jamey: I was talking with someone earlier, and we discussed the biggest problem when it comes to growing a business. The biggest problem we all face, whether a business owner or not, is the amount of distraction we encounter. A lot of it is tied to social media and the constant access we have through our phones. When you're bombarded with so much, you tend to retreat into a place of comfort because it's overwhelming. I recently wrote a blog about decision fatigue; we're making so many decisions every day that it becomes exhausting.

It's important to realize that we're past the information age; everything you want to know is readily available on the internet. Now, with AI, you can get everything figured out. There's an abundance of information out there, and it's easy to get overwhelmed. You have to be mindful not to get sucked into it all. Personally, I limit my social media use to a couple of times a day to avoid being constantly tracked and spending excessive time on it.

As a coach, my role is to help filter the information and distractions that come your way. It's not about telling you what to do; there are plenty of programs and modules for that. Instead, it's about addressing how the things going on in your life might be affecting you and helping you manage your emotions. You need someone outside of your world to provide unbiased guidance.

When choosing a coach, look for someone with real experience, not just someone who took a weekend course. They should be transparent about their mistakes and what they've learned. You want someone who has your best interests at heart, not someone who's pushing multiple products or services for their financial gain.

I believe in leveraging strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. Instead of trying to improve what you're not naturally good at, surround yourself with people who excel in those areas or utilize technology to help. When seeking a coach or mentor, prioritize finding someone who understands your unique strengths and helps you leverage them to achieve your goals.

Morgan: I totally agree with that method. When I coach, I make sure to lay out all the choices for each question and talk about what I've experienced with each one, both the good and the bad. After that, I help the person figure out which option might be best for them based on their personality or the kind of business they're interested in. We give it a try and see how well it works, then decide what to do next. This kind of mentoring is really helpful because it stops people from getting stuck trying to analyze everything and keeps them moving forward. It really does make a lot of sense.

Learn more about whether hiring a business coach is right for you in my blog post here.

What were some major things you changed going from business A to business B or some of the major differences?

Jamey: During my journey of learning and growing, I came across a term called "unique ability." It was new to me and took some time to understand. You might hear similar phrases like "superpower" or "God's gift," which mean doing something really well that comes naturally to you.

For me, I discovered that I was good at connecting with people and making complicated things simple. Even though I wasn't the best clinician, I enjoyed helping and caring for others. As I shifted from treating patients to focusing on running a business, I found fulfillment in supporting my team and exploring new opportunities.

When I started sharing my story, people reached out to me for advice. Coaching wasn't something I had thought about before, but it felt right. I realized I could help others achieve their goals faster by sharing what I've learned.

Coaching became a natural fit for me because it allowed me to do what I love, earn a good living, and work with people I care about. It was about trusting myself and following my instincts.

In short, coaching became part of my journey of self-discovery, helping me understand myself better and guiding others toward success.

Morgan: Yeah, that really resonates with me. It reminds me of my own journey, and I think many other practice owners can relate when they're just starting out. I remember working at a big-box outpatient PT clinic when I first began, and I absolutely hated it. It was overwhelming with so many patients, and what felt most natural to me was the ability to work one-on-one with someone, truly connecting with them and helping them achieve their goals, both in physical therapy and in other aspects of their lives.

Working in that PT clinic didn't align with who I am, my beliefs, or my values, and it wasn't what I wanted to do. So, that's what led me down the path of starting my own practice, building it in a way that allowed me to work in a manner I truly believed in. I believe that inner alignment, matching your passion with your work, and inner drive propel your business further and faster than trying to force something that isn't aligned or doing what you feel you're supposed to do.

It's similar to the realization that many therapists have when starting their practices. We're trained to work with anyone and everyone who comes our way, but just because we can, it doesn't mean we should or have to. The most successful practice owners I've encountered build their practices around a clientele that aligns with who they are and what they're capable of.

Say somebody is starting to be in this questioning phase of "I am not going to settle for being paid $35 an hour to work 10 hour days and see 120 patients a week, but I don't know what to do. I've heard that I could start my own thing but I don't know if I'm good enough to go out on my own." How do you handle that mindset piece?

Jamey: Much of what you're talking about sounds like imposter syndrome, where you always doubt your abilities. Let me explain it this way: when you finish school, you're one of the smartest people around, given all the knowledge you've gained, especially in subjects like anatomy. So, compared to most people, you know a lot. To feel more confident, think about all you've achieved to get where you are.

Many people get caught up in always looking ahead, setting goals and imagining their future success. While it's good to have goals, only measuring yourself against them can make you feel like you're not good enough. Your goals will always be something you haven't reached yet. For example, if you have 50,000 listeners a month and a friend has 75,000, you might feel disappointed when you don't reach their level. Instead, look back at how much progress you've made.

When you're starting something new, like your own practice, it's normal to feel unsure. Start small, maybe by working part-time or doing extra work on the side. Use these opportunities to learn about business and how to sell your services. Even if you have to deal with a lot of patients or face challenges, each experience teaches you something important.

Think about why you're unhappy at work. It might not be everything about your job that's bothering you—maybe you want more opportunities for growth or a change in the people you work with. Use your dissatisfaction to figure out what you do and don't like, which will help you make better choices in the future.

At Practice Freedom, we believe in always learning new things. Even after being in the physical therapy field for almost thirty years, I'm still excited to learn more. Remember, learning is a lifelong journey, and there's always something new to discover. Taking this long-term view can help you avoid feeling rushed in today's fast-paced world.

It's important to protect yourself from the pressure to succeed quickly, especially in a world full of technology. It's okay to take your time, learn, and grow at your own pace.

Morgan: Yeah, for sure. You know, I think a big part of what you're sharing on that, that I always have to remind myself of is that, um, and something that I do share with people is that, I guess, in life but also in business too, it'll never be done, it'll never be complete. It's always going to be an ever-evolving process. And like you said, you're always just going to be learning something new. And I think maybe sometimes where that kind of not-good-enough feeling can come from is like you said, if, you know, you're focusing too much on the future and not really looking back at all the things that you have accomplished so far. And like, we just get stuck under this thinking of "I just need to get like one more degree or one more certification, and then like I'll be good enough to start working with people." But you're really only going to be, I guess, I hesitate to even say like "good enough," but for lack of a better phrase, by practicing and trying things and learning through doing, you know? And like you said, we already just, we know even this much more than the average person on a lot of things. And like, that could be the difference between, you know, that patient or client staying stuck where they are and them having like a huge change in their life, you know, or even a small change in their life that just helps them.

To learn more about crushing imposter syndrome, check out my blog post here.

Jamey's going to go on a soap box for a minute...

Jamey: So, something you said got me thinking. Back in 2012, there was this thing called Vision 2020, have you heard of that? Well, I sure have. Part of Vision 2020, which they talked about everywhere, was how we physical therapists were going to be like doctors. They said we needed to get doctorates, DPTs, and then they quickly raised the prices for school. They made it harder to get into school, too. Then, they said having a DPT wasn't enough. Doctors get fellowships and other stuff, so we were told we needed that, too. Companies and influential people, including associations, benefited from this. They started saying our degree wasn't enough, passing the boards wasn't enough, we needed more certifications, fellowships, more initials after our names. They made us feel like we weren't good enough.

People are coming out of school feeling paralyzed because they compare themselves to those with initials all over their names, thinking they need to be like them, the academic snobs. But where are the outcomes? I haven't seen any proof that all those extra credentials actually make a difference. We're not learning important things like how to connect with people, communicate effectively, have difficult conversations, resolve conflicts, or be strong leaders. We're too busy trying to be like another profession because we feel inferior.

The DPT might not have been a bad thing, but look at where our industry is now, ten years later. Even without the pandemic, there was an education bubble about to burst. Education costs have skyrocketed, but insurance reimbursements have gone down. Therapists are graduating with more debt than ever, struggling to make ends meet. There's a massive shortage of therapists partly because it's hard to get into school and partly because therapists are drowning in debt.

My advice to business owners is to be selfish in a good way. Invest in yourself, understand the business of physical therapy, and be successful. When you're successful, you'll have the power to make a difference in the industry. Associations will come to you for donations, and you can use that money to change things or make your community better. But most importantly, you'll have a better life for yourself and your family. Trust me, I've been there, broke and stressed, working long hours. I'd choose success any day because now I'm helping more people than ever before.

Morgan: No, I mean, I think that's such an important thing for all of us to hear, you know, the reality of the situation. Because I think there's just so much hustle too, to hurry up and get through undergrad, so you can hurry up and get through grad school, so you can hurry up and get a job, so you can hurry up and make more money. And you just end up, like you said, exhausted and drained. Is that it for life, you know? And like, nobody's really telling you that. They kind of just keep pushing you towards the degrees and the certifications, and like, eventually if you keep doing these things, eventually you'll get where you want to go. But it's not true.

Being able to let go and hire the right people and and have confidence that they're going to be able to to help you get where you want to go...

Jamey: I know we originally talked about this idea of letting go, and there's a couple of things with letting go. One, if you want to stay relatively small, in other words, you want to be kind of a solo entrepreneur, there's really nothing to let go of. You increase your skills and abilities to connect with people, communicate clearly what you do, who you do it for, and the result that you help them with, like the problem you solve. Learn how to persuade them to take action, which is selling. If you're able to do that, then you are going to be very successful doing what you want, when you want, with who you want, and charging whatever you want. Now, if you want to grow, if you want to grow past a couple hundred thousand, maybe $250,000 that you could probably generate on your own, if you want to build half a million, million, 3 million, $5 million company, you need people, you need help, you can't do it on your own.

And here lies the most difficult thing that I work with my clients with, and my other coaches do the same thing, it's we have this difficulty of letting go. We have this difficulty, especially in therapy, where we say, "They can't do it as well as I can." I said that for years, which is why it took me 9 years to build a practice, which I refer to as Practice Freedom, because I couldn't let go of certain things. It took me nine years to let go of treating. I was holding on to three people a week, three people a week that I was holding on to. And finally, one of my, not even my coach, a coach of mine, I was in this Mastermind class, and he goes, "Why are you treating again?" I go, "I don't know." He goes, "That's ridiculous." Came back on Monday, said, "Take me off, just get me, I'm done," because I was just afraid to let go.

A part of letting go is coming up with the identity of, so if I start to delegate patient care, who am I? Because I've been told I'm a therapist my whole life. Yeah, and we have to start saying that you're much greater than a therapist. Not that being a therapist is bad, but you also chose to be a business owner, so you're a business owner, you're a business owner that happens to be in the business of rehab or physical therapy or whatever. So you have to start using that language and thinking like that. But letting go and delegating, the things that I would start with, I always, always think start small, start easy, start with things that you don't particularly like. First thing I ever delegated, by the way, I delegated bookkeeping. I freaking hate bookkeeping. I suck at it. Yeah, I mean, I suck at it. Now I have a personal bookkeeper now for my personal finances. I never reconcile, I was terrible. So I delegated it. Of course, we always say, "Well, I can kind of do it because I'm saving money." No, you're not.

Delegate it to people that's their passion, that's what they're good at, and you will get an exponential result for your investment in them. And think of everything you delegate as an investment. And the investment is you're buying back your time and your mental space. That's what happens when you delegate. Keep the things that you absolutely love, keep the things that you're good at, keep the things that you, as a business owner, have to do. But man, you can delegate anything from billing, answering the phones, some aspects of marketing, blog posts, bookkeeping, payroll, treatment. I mean, you can delegate a ton of stuff. There's lots of talented people out there. But it's hard to do when A, you think no one can do it as well as you, and B, you view delegation as a cost versus as an investment in your ability to grow.

That's the number one objection that I get when people even look at coaches. "Jamie, that's too expensive." And I say, "I certainly understand where you're coming from. Now, when you mean by expensive, are you talking about expensive as in you don't have a vision big enough that this investment will get it back for you? Because if that's the case, I agree." They're like, "Well, no, I have a, I want to grow a million dollars in the next year or something like that." I go, "So, our program at $15,000 isn't worth a, I can't even do the math, but it's a lot of x's, like 40x or 50x. So what are you worried about? You actually doing the work and achieving it, because that can be a little scary. It's easier to say I could do it versus doing it.

Morgan: I mean, if I hadn't already started a practice, I would start one after hearing that. Jamie, you've convinced me. So, you know, like, there are just so many reasons and so many, I guess, things that the people who are listening could come up with not to start. There's plenty of reasons not to start. But, you know, the only thing that is going to let you have what you want from your life, I think, is that if you do start and you do try and see where that takes you. Because the worst thing that'll happen is that it doesn't work out, and then at least you'll know, and then you'll gain skills to try other things too.

Learn more about shifting your mindset as a business owner in my blog post here.

People said: "Jamey why didn't you just keep your your practices because they were running on their own?

Jamey: I just didn't have any passion for it. I didn't care. I wanted to do something that inspires me, something that makes a difference. I'd rather sell it to somebody who's going to build and grow and help. I didn't want to do it. I'm not doing this for money. I mean, I want to get paid really well, but that's not my motivation for doing this. And I hope, you know, just being in this field, that's not a lot of people's motivation. But you can do anything you want. You can work with any type of person you want. You know, it's just a matter of making a decision. That's the hardest part, making a decision and taking action.

Morgan: Absolutely, you know, and if anybody is going to bet on you, I think it should be yourself.

How to contact Jamey:

*Find him on YouTube

*Email him here

Listen to this episode on my podcast!

DPT to CEO: The Podcast

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