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General practice tool kit

Becoming an owner of a general practice

Financial planning

Last revised: 24 Oct 2019

Having enough to become an owner

When you are thinking about becoming a business owner:

  • review your current financial situation
  • calculate your short-term and long-term financial needs and goals
  • calculate the likely personal income you will make from the business
  • calculate the amount of money you will need to borrow and/or invest in the business and how this will affect your financial situation
  • seek professional advice to make sure you have thought of everything and made accurate calculations and estimates.

A practice’s assets are everything owned by the practice, including property, medical and technological equipment, furniture, and cash on hand (eg in bank accounts).

A practice’s liabilities are all of their financial obligations and responsibilities. These could include:

  • loans
  • credit card debts
  • tax payable
  • superannuation payable
  • outstanding debts (eg to suppliers and utility providers)
  • interest payable to lenders, credit cards, ATO, suppliers
  • accrued employee entitlements such as long service leave, paid parental leave, and annual leave
  • insurances
  • professional fees (eg legal and accounting)
  • ongoing income tax and superannuation payments
  • monies still owed to previous owners
  • financial arrangements with existing owners
  • other financial arrangements (eg with the owner of leased premises).

If you are considering buying into a practice, remember that you’re also buying into its assets and its liabilities, so seek professional advice to identify and assess all of the practice’s assets and liabilities, as well as income and expenses.  

Making financial decisions

When you are a business owner, every financial decision needs to be based on not just the business’s projected income but also its short-term and long-term liabilities.

Financial statements such as balance sheets and cash flow statements can help you assess the financial health of your business.

Balance sheets

A balance sheet lists your business's assets and liabilities and identifies the business’s net worth. The net worth is:

  • the total value of assets minus the total value of liabilities.

Cash flow statements

A cash flow statement summarises the amount of cash and cash equivalents entering and leaving a business. It can help you identify:

  • the amount of money you need to operate on a day-to-day basis (known as working capital)
  • how quickly you can pay current debts (known as business liquidity).

The cash flow statement provides a good indication of the financial health of your business.

Goodwill is an ongoing but intangible asset of a business, based on its reputation.

Because it is an asset, it needs to be assessed when buying or selling any business, including a general practice. Using a professional who is experienced in valuing the goodwill of a general practice will help you determine:

  • how much of what you are paying is for the reputation of the business itself and the other GPs in the practice
  • if this is what you want to buy, and how much you want to pay for it
  • if some or all of the other GPs were to leave, whether the cost of the goodwill would still be fair. Many agreements for the purchase of some or all of a business include a requirement that some or all of the GPs stay in the business for a specified period of time to allow the purchaser to benefit from the goodwill they have purchased.

If you are considering shared ownership, you should agree on and document how goodwill will be valued if some or all of the business is sold, including the goodwill of individual GPs.

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