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The Art of Problem Solving for Your Cash Based Practice with Sean Vo

Karen Tanso, CEO of Inchstones PT

Join me on our latest DPT to CEO interview, with program graduate Dr. Sean Vo, PT, owner and operator of Myovitality Health & Wellness. During this interview we dive into the art of problem solving as a cash based practice owner and tips on how to start. Sean shares his personal journey of going back to the drawing board several times, finding his true passion as a clinician, and the importance of surrounding yourself with those that support you and your dreams.

What we're covering:

Tell us little more about who you are, you’re background, and what you’re doing now

Sean: Hi everybody my name is Sean Vo. I got my doctorate in physical therapy in 2021 University of St. Augustine in Austin, Texas. I did travel therapy just right out of graduation for a little bit and then got a full-time job working in outpatient ortho. Earlier this year I started my own business working with combat sport athletes and martial artists, specifically who have knee pain, but and I do a hybrid of online treatment and in-person treatments.

Morgan: That's awesome Sean. Sean has come such a long way. He and I, we started working together last year and he is a graduate of our DPT to CEO program.

Do you remember how we were feeling this time last year?

Sean: It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time starting from scratch. You basically start trying to build a house with a blueprint written on a piece of paper. That's what it felt like. It was really cool to be introduced to the program and have a set curriculum, to go through steps on how to get to certain things we wanted to do. It was really cool and kind of cool to see where I am now compared to where I started.

Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. I know one thing that you had mentioned about something that you just want to share with the audience or with people who are maybe where you were but they're there now to share with people, I guess, who are interested in starting their own thing. You mentioned the quote, "You don't have to be great to start, but you got to start to be great."

Can you tell us a little more about that quote and what that means to you?

Sean: I don't think you're ever going to be truly ready to start, and that's what I've heard from so many people, including you. Yeah, everyone always says that you're never going to be truly ready to start, so the best time to start was yesterday. And I really do believe that you just don't really need to be like everything that you think you want to be in order to start because you're probably looking at so many other people who are at the top of their mountain or you know who have already been doing this for a couple years, and you're like I'm never going to get to where they are. But that's just a lot of self-doubt and a lot of self-limiting belief. So just even, you know, creating the name, creating an idea, making the vision, like that, those are already steps that get you to where you want to be. So I think that's just already in that starting position. So you just got to start and you just got to take that leap of faith and do it.

Morgan: That's been my motto this whole time, for better or worse. So I guess, you know, I obviously totally agree with you. You have to start somewhere.

Find out if you're ready to start your cash based practice in my blog post here.

What was the thing that was the catalyst for you in making the decision to get started?

Sean: I would say just the idea that I've always wanted to be my own boss, and it's the idea of having more control over what you want to do, more flexibility, better work-life balance. So it was just kind of everything that I saw other people doing, being able to set your own hours, work with fewer patients but more on a one-on-one basis with them, being able to treat the way that you want to treat. So it was kind of everything on the other side that everybody kind of hypes up, and that was kind of the catalyst for me because I just wanted to finally sink my teeth into the area and to be able to start my own business and just start doing things the way that I wanted to.

Morgan: Yeah, so it sounds like you kind of, you just finally got tired of the same old, same old, exactly. I know that I definitely felt the same way, and I know that there are a lot of other people out there who I'm sure that resonates with.

Can you take us back through some of the ideas you had and some of the things you tried and what it transitioned into now?

Sean: Starting out, I had definitely a few different interests. I think the first one that I had was bodybuilders and powerlifters, and that transitioned into people more in like the music community. And then, which is where we finally landed on like combat sport and martial arts. As you can see, kind of my interest kind of went from all over the place. And it was good because again, it made me think of people in each area too, and it landed me on what body part I like to treat the most, to which, you know, landed me with combat sports and martial artist. And then with knee pain specifically, like I really do enjoy working with athletes with specifically knee pain.

I mean, I could treat, you know, lower back, shoulders, and stuff like that too, but it's really where I'm passionate about. Like all knee injury specifically, on how the joint, you know, lines up with the entire body and how it controls with like Power movement acceleration and things like that. So that's where I kind of found my passion. And so I know we went from all over the place in the first couple months working together. We were just going from idea to idea, and I was like I don't even know if I'm ever going to land on one if one's gonna stick. And I know that you advised me to just kind of pick one and just see where it goes, and eventually you'll get good at it too. And I think that the more passionate you are about treating a certain population, the better you're going to be, and then the more that's just going to drive you.

Morgan: I think there are a lot of different ways to approach a business, right? You know, different motivations and goals and everything. But something that's always really aligned with me personally is just fueling my business with a passion behind it. If I'm not genuinely interested in what I'm doing, forget it. And you know, I think that was probably something that you experienced too. It was almost like we're like trying on different clothes and seeing what fit. And you know, maybe all the clothes fit, but there was only one outfit that made you really feel good. And that being, you know, the combat sport athletes. And I think your journey is a really good example of going back to the drawing board several times and really trying to figure out what's going to be the best, I guess, niche audience.

Getting into the structure of your business, tell us a little bit more about those different ideas that you’ve tried and how does your business work now?

Sean: At first, I wanted to do completely in-person mobile and, you know, go to door too. So that was kind of the idea that I, you know, played around with. And at first, it seemed really well. Kind of just shifting around ideas, I was able to kind of get myself out there, go to a couple of different gyms, and advertise myself. Then I made it into a couple of organizations where I was able to set up a booth in some of the fights and just talk to some of the athletes, some of the fighters, as they were finishing up their fights or even going out towards their fights, and just kind of explaining them my services. And then it transitioned into doing more online services because I had a few people reach out to me who weren't in the state that I live in but wanted to still work with me and to be able to go through certain treatments, certain exercises, and be able to come up with a good game plan for what they were dealing with. So that kind of grew into the hybrid approach that I take now, which is a little bit of online and then a little bit of in-person.

So the majority of my clients that I have right now are online, and they don't live in the same state that I live in too. So which is really nice because that gives them access to work with me, and then that still gives me the ability to be able to create a game plan for them and we come up with specifically certain exercises that will really help them exceed in whatever martial arts that they're in currently. And then I do have some patients who are interested in working with me in person, and they live around the area that I live in. So we're working on kind of a game plan on how we want to approach that as well.

Morgan: That's really cool. I know there are a lot of like inquiring minds out there with the online stuff and I think it's something that' super intriguing to a lot of of therapists.

How have you navigated the concept of being a physical therapist in Texas but working with people all over the place online?

Sean: I usually approach that as more Wellness Services too because my company does offer physical therapy and wellness, it's in the name. So I approach that as more wellness. The people that are coming to me, especially looking for online, I make sure that number one, if they do need physical therapy, especially more hands-on services, that I help them find the resources around where they live. But if it's something as in they need like a structured program of certain exercises to improve certain areas that they're looking for, whether it's like speed, acceleration, strength, especially if they're in a martial arts, that requires kind of all the above. We work on designing a good program for them that they're able to follow along week by week, and then we meet once a week. They give me feedback, and I coach them through specifically what is going on and things that we can work on, things that we can change. And so I kind of classify that as more of a wellness approach. They're at the point where they don't really need hands-on. They're able to be very self-efficient and able to coach themselves, and then I kind of just guide and mentor them along the way.

If somebody is thinking of starting their own practice, what if people come to me and they’re not my niche?

Sean: Obviously, you can't just say, "Okay, well, no, I can't help you," turn away, right? Like, you should treat everybody like a human being. But ideally, if somebody comes to you and you really do believe that you are the right person to help them, then obviously sell your services, sell yourself too. But if somebody comes to you and you believe that there is somebody better out there or that you can help them find a better resource, or if you're just not passionate about working with that group, don't be mad at yourself, don't be flustered, right? Because I think what PT school taught us is that we have to help everybody.

If somebody walks in through the door, especially if you're working in an outpatient clinic, you have to help them. But the reality of it is that there's so many PTs, there's so many clinicians out there, and everybody is good at something, everybody is good at treating a different population. So don't be down on yourself, don't be mad at yourself if you really feel like, "I just can't help you, and I'm not passionate about helping this field or area." But I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that whether we work together or not, I will help you find the resources, I will help you find the help that you need.

Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. So even in that way, you're still helping them.

What would you say has been your biggest challenge in the past year with growing your business?

Sean: It's kind of wearing all the hats. I think one thing a lot of people don't realize when they go into a business is that you have to wear so many hats. Obviously the treating hat, right? You have to wear the social media hat, the marketing hat, the advertising hat. The biggest challenge for me was learning everything behind advertising, so like Facebook ads and learning how to really navigate around that area and marketing, getting my name out there.

So that was the biggest kind of like, "oh my gosh" moment because it is a big realization that you have to do a little bit of everything until obviously the business picks up and you have the income to hire somebody else which is awesome. But for most people, they're probably doing everything on their own to start off with.

Morgan: Yeah I think that's something really important to bring up and it's something that I've been talking to a lot of other people about recently...

Of course, starting and growing a business, it is a learning process the entire time and you will never feel like the expert. There's always more to learn because there's so many different domains, almost like PT in a way. And I feel like when you first get started, the concentration is on, "I just need patients, I just need patients," in treating. But along that path, you realize that, "oh yeah, I actually have to learn how to attract patients and do marketing." And now that I have people to talk to, I have to learn how to get them to pay me money. And then once you have the money, then it's like, "How do I manage the money and what do I do with this?" So it's all these things all at once and it's a lot on one person. It's a lot on one person if you are also working full-time, part-time as well or you just have other responsibilities in your life.

To learn more about how to pay yourself as a cash based practice owner, check out my blog post here.

What steps or things have you done to help yourself with that overwhelm and wearing all of the hats?

Sean: The number one thing is YouTube, right? I feel that with YouTube, you can learn just about anything. YouTube and Google, you can learn just about anything. And then books, podcasts, so many resources. So, kind of going off with what you said, learning how to manage the money, there's a really good book that I read, it's called "Profit First". And yeah, and I feel if you ask anybody in the entrepreneur world, business world, that book comes up probably nine times out of 10, right? And it's just like teaching you how to pay yourself first before all the money goes back towards the business and you allocate it.

YouTube, I literally YouTube like 90% of everything. If I have a question on anything, if you type it in YouTube, there are other people who probably did the same thing. So there's YouTubers that literally make videos of just about anything. And I think some people kind of forget to use that as a resource. And I've even talked to some of my other entrepreneur friends, sometimes they're like, "Yeah, I think it's kind of an ego thing. If I don't know how to do it, typing it into Google or YouTube kind of makes me feel stupid." It doesn't, right? Just because, again, you can learn anything just from typing it in, watching like a five-minute video, and that was five minutes that were really, really good and I now know something that I didn't know.

Morgan: I think it also teaches you a skill, you know, to get past the ego thing because don't even worry about that when you start googling and YouTube-ing things. It helps to teach you or enhance your skill of problem-solving, which you need in so many other aspects of your business. So if you learn to be a little bit more resourceful for yourself, it's only going to help develop things further down the road. So I think that is a really good point to bring up. And of course, when you are YouTube-ing things, reading things, it is going to take time. So as long as you're okay with that, then that's okay. And even if you're like, "oh, I don't even know where to start," now that we have ChatGPT, you could always go in the chat and be like, "Here's what I'm kind of struggling with, what should I look up?" So there's more resources out there to help you.

What would you say is your number one favorite and least favorite thing about being a business owner?

Sean: My number one favorite is the flexibility of just being able to work whenever I want to. Obviously, the more that I put in, probably the more that I'm going to get out. But sometimes, you know, if vacation comes around or if friends want to hang out, I don't necessarily have to stress on it because it's again, it's just my business. It's how much I want to put in and being able to have that flexibility and that work-life balance is so refreshing.

The least favorite probably goes back to what we were talking about, is like wearing so many hats at once. Again, I do wish that if I had more help, it'd be so much easier and be so much more efficient. But obviously, you want your business to be in a good place before you can hire more people unless you have that supplementary income then by all means go for it. Like, that would really, really help out. But again, sometimes it does get a little stressful trying to do everything and sometimes you forget to do something because you were so focused on something else and you're like, "oh my gosh, I totally forgot to do it." But then again, the nice thing is that you are the boss, right? You know, you don't have a boss saying, "Oh, you missed the deadline." You know you're not going to get reprimanded for that. You are the boss. If it's a little late, it's fine. You can just kind of regroup and pick it back up later and just still continue to do your thing.

Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. I love how we spun the least favorite thing into still positive too. I always think as much of an emotional roller coaster as it can be and how it can be stressful sometimes, I think all of the pros greatly outweigh the cons. It's just, it's so worth it, you know? At least even like trying it to see because you're going to learn a lot about yourself along the way as well.

What goals do you have for the next year and where do you see yourself going in 2024/2025?

Sean: So for next year, I'm hoping to triple the number of clients I had this year too. Again, I did this kind of method, and I know I talked to you about this, but I learned it from Alex Hormozi. To get clients, you have to just kind of do your best at advertising and marketing and getting them in. But for the first five clients, I actually took them on for free, and I told them that I would take them on if they would follow the program and let me coach them, they would give me feedback, and then they would leave me a killer testimonial if they thought I deserved one. And then what Alex Hormozi says is that you do that for every five patients, every five clients. So the first five clients are free, and then the next five clients, you charge them at an 80% discount of whatever your regular price is. The next five at 60%, and then the next five at 40%, then 20%. And then once you get to full price, you can actually increase your prices, and then there's a lot more you can do from there.

I am at the stage where I am picking up more clients at a discounted rate, and then again, terms and conditions still apply. So they work with me, they let me coach them, and they leave me a killer review. So with that, it just keeps kind of snowballing into more clients. With the next year kind of coming in, I'm hoping to triple my clientele and still using the same approach that I'm using right now. And I'm hoping to just grow, just kind of get my name out there and still getting more referrals and growing as an entrepreneur, as a business person. So that's kind of like my vision for next year.

Morgan: That's so cool! It just comes such a long way, and it's cool to look at the past and kind of compare where you are now to then and just see all of the growth. And then it sounds like you're just really looking forward to what's to come.

Some last advice for another PT or another clinician out there who is on the fence about starting your own business, what would you tell them? 

Sean: If you're really on the fence about doing it, take a little bit of time and just ask around, talk to your friends, network, and ask people who have been in that space, who are already kind of doing what you want to do, and see what their experiences are. Take a little bit of time to yourself just to kind of collect your thoughts, and I would just write down everything that could go wrong and then everything that would go right. If you write down everything that could go wrong, that list kind of becomes extreme, and like, what are the worst things that could happen, right? There's really like nothing, right? Like, you start it, yeah, you start it, you actually become better when you start a business because you learn so many things, you kind of learn a lot of things about yourself. But then when you look at the list of what things can go right, you're just like, "oh my gosh, this is a dream." If I just take that first initial step, I get this much closer to achieving all these things that can happen.

The other thing is just trying to learn more. Just the more that you use YouTube, the more that you Google, the better, the more knowledge you get, and the better you become at knowing exactly what to do. If you go into this with the right amount of research and the right ideas, and again, a good game plan, right, on how to do things, then it will get you to where you want to be. And then hiring a coach too. I really think that hiring a coach and working with somebody who was in your position and is where you want to be and also has experience working with other people, bringing them up from basically like nothing, right? Bringing them up, it'll really, really kind of again, streamline, accelerate the process. I use that word a lot because, again, I'm a very efficient person. I like to do things as efficiently as I can. I don't like to mess around and waste time. So if you can find somebody to coach you and help you with that, then it's going to get you to where you want to be so much faster.


Yeah, absolutely because we talked about everything that you need to know is on the internet. It's just, would you rather spend the time looking for it yourself, which in some cases can be fine, or would you rather invest in the knowledge that somebody else has and they can just tell you exactly what to do? And that's the same reason why I have a business coach and I actually just signed up for a new coaching program to help me with my YouTube channel because I really want to work on that and it's going to go a lot better if I follow somebody's program than if I try to figure it out on my own.

But yeah, and I love the fact that you brought up the writing out what's the what's the worst that could happen versus what's the best that could happen because so many people are scared to start because of the fear of the unknown. But if you actually write out the worst thing that could happen and the best thing that could happen, odds are you're going to land somewhere in the middle.

Learn more on my take of hiring a business coach in the blog post here.

How to contact Sean:

*Find him on Instagram here.

Listen to this episode on my podcast!

DPT to CEO: The Podcast


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