In this edition, we’re talking to Hitesh Mohanlal, chartered accountant and business growth strategist to the medical industry.
Hitesh Mohanlal has been a chartered accountant in the UK and Australia for the last 22 years, and a business advisor and growth strategist for 15 years.
He works with small to medium sized medical practices and independent medical professionals to improve their profits whilst cutting working hours in half for the owner, so that they can enjoy an excellent lifestyle with plenty of time for family, fun and philanthropy.
Hitesh is also the Director of Medisuccess, WOW! Advisors & Business Accountants, and Crystal Clear Bookkeeping.
Tell us about your business and what you do.
Hitesh: We are an accounting practice so we do a lot of tax, accounting work and advisory. We started off as a general practice in 2011, and then moved into bookkeeping. Then around 2014 we started specialising in the medical space.
A lot of our clients are now medical professionals – they have practices, or are independent doctors, Allied Health, or something along those lines.
My focus is always about getting time back and making more money. It’s about making your business more efficient or making the way you work more efficient.
Why do you focus on medical professionals?
Hitesh: I know people think they earn an awful lot of money, but they actually work really, really hard, and they put a lot of hours in. They put a lot of people before themselves. A lot of them are quite tired and frustrated simply because they’re working so many hours.
Doctors and medical professionals aren’t wired up for understanding figures, tax or financials. It’s not surprising for us to take on a new medical centre as a client and discover they’ve not really discussed their figures with their accountant for a number of years. We have to get them into a mindset where we’re saying, “You’ve got to look at this every month, and we’ll teach you how to look and what to look for.”
It’s a process. They’re very, very good at what they do and they’re very, very intelligent people, but they don’t understand finance, they don’t understand money, they find it too complex and they don’t have the time to deal with it.
Is there a societal expectation on us to give all our time to work?
Hitesh: There is certainly conditioning attached to it, but I think with a lot of people the number of hours that they work corresponds to the amount of income that they have. Accountants bill by the hour, so the more hours you do, the more you earn.
With doctors, it’s really similar – the number of patients they see determines how much they actually earn. You kind of go around and around the wheel, really. In order to make the money, you’ve got to work the hours; in order to do the hours, you’ve got to give something else up; and it becomes frustrating.
I think you’ll find it’s quite common anywhere where you’re billing or making money based on time that there’s a lot of peer pressure as well. They’re always competing against each other and looking at what everyone else is doing. They can’t fall behind. If you can’t fall behind it means you put more hours in. It is kind of society-driven, yes.
How does a medical professional start to claw some time back?
Hitesh: If you’re running a medical practice, it’s about making that practice more efficient, getting the systems in place, and running it, not as a business operator, but as a business owner.
Most businesses, certainly the ones that we deal with, start off as being business operators. Without them, the business collapses. We push them towards relying on their team, and the business to self-generate and self-operate, so that if you’re not there it’s still okay.
We also have a lot of people who are independent doctors, GPs or specialists, and they might be set up as a ‘business’, but they’re not really a business, it’s just really them. For them the strategy’s a little bit different – it’s about how to generate passive income. We make good decisions from the investment side so that they can invest and receive passive income, so that at the time when they stop working, or they’re not working, they still have money coming through.
Do people know what their issues are when they come to you?
Hitesh: Nine times out of 10, clients who come on board have a tax or compliance issue. We then speak to them and say, “We can help with your business more broadly, too, if you’re interested.”
If they say yes, I do a strategic planning day with them. We look at their figures, staff, their structure, systems, business strategies and their personal lives. Then I do a report on what’s not quite working, and what is working, and then we make a plan for the next 12 to 18 months.
Other times, someone will come and say, “The business isn’t running so well, and thought we’d be doing much better.”
We just ask them a couple of questions, and we usually find it’s not the business – it’s something else. Often something personal.
Your personal life and your business life are always interconnected. If there’s a real problem in your business, there’s a chance you’re going to bring it home. If you’ve got a real problem at home, chances are you’re going to bring it to work.
Most business advisors will just look at the business. You can’t do that – you’ve got to widen the net.
What are the differences you see in your clients’ lives?
Hitesh: We know we’re doing a good job not just when the doctor says his life is a bit transformed or changed – but when the spouses give you a call and say, “Wow, we don’t know what you’ve done, but it’s really worked, because we’ve got a bit of our life back.”
That’s when we know we’ve hit it. Because you’ve got an independent person telling you as opposed to someone who thinks that they’ve done something different.
But it’s not a short overnight solution – it normally takes a long time. It’s about changing mindset, which is never easy, and it’s really got nothing to do with their intelligence – it’s just their way of running the business, or the way that they’re operating.
Do you apply the same principles to your own life?
Hitesh: I do about three-and-a-half days a week and have on average between 12 and about 16 weeks off a year.
If I can do it, then I can teach people how to do it. That’s basically the philosophy behind what I do.
What’s your personal motivation to help people work less?
Hitesh: It goes back to about 2007, actually. I was still in my 30s at that time. I had a cousin who was 38, and she was quite ill, and she died very suddenly.
I saw her on a Sunday, and she seemed fairly okay. She was very sick and she was hospitalized but she seemed okay – and on the Tuesday she had passed away. The Sunday before, I had a conversation with her where she had expressed to me a particular regret.
A couple of years before that I had taken a trip from the UK to Fiji and I’d asked her to come with me – she didn’t because her husband couldn’t get time off.
And she just said, “I wish I’d gone with you,” and I said, “Don’t worry about it, you’ve got lots of time, we can do it another time.”
Obviously that didn’t come.
That’s when I moved immediately to a four-day week, because I realised we couldn’t have regrets, and if I continued doing what I was doing at the time, I wasn’t going to be able to live the life that I wanted to live.
My cousin actually had stomach cancer, and we didn’t know about it until pretty much after the autopsy. It was effectively misdiagnosed – she had a lot of other complications as well. We actually made a claim against the NHS, and eventually I did manage to get to speak to her senior doctor.
He said, “Look, I got into the profession to save lives and make a difference for people.”
“The problem is, I’m spending so much time dealing with admin, and so much time at work, that I’m just not happy, I’m not fulfilled, I can’t do what I want to do.”
That pushed me towards what I do right now. It’s one of the moments that got me into what we’re doing, and I’m glad that we do make a significant difference in people’s lives.
What do you do with all your free time?
Hitesh: We do medical missions. We take our doctors and arrange to go to various places and provide voluntary medical assistance.
This January it’s going to be in the Philippines. We’ll have a little bit of holiday time, and then we’ll provide clinics for anyone who wants but can’t afford medical assistance. When we did it earlier this year, we had a bunch of kids come over who would’ve been four or five, and they’d never seen a doctor in their life. It’s very, very fulfilling. We’ve started doing a lot more of giving back.
I also travel with my family quite a bit around the world, just visiting and sightseeing. A little less now because my son’s now in high school, and it’s been difficult to pull him out!
How else do you contribute?
Hitesh: We keep a track of all the amounts of money that we have saved our clients – tax savings and profit improvements. Then, for every $5 of tax saved or profit improvement we will donate 1 ‘impact’ somewhere in the world. We’ve joined up with an organisation called B1G1 to do ‘corporate giving’. So far, since March 2018, we’ve saved $3,440,055, equating to about 688,000 impacts in the world. The impacts range from the provision of clean water, malaria medication and even bookkeeping courses for women looking to start a business in Africa.
So it doesn’t just motivate me – it motivates my team as well. They’re always out there looking for a saving for a client, because it means they make an impact on the world. It’s great when you have that kind of driver.
We’ve also started ‘Feed a School for a Day’. We’re looking at schools in third world countries, and going to the school, and saying, “We’ll pay your canteen for a day.” So far we have managed 31 days.
Do you feel a responsibility to give back?
Hitesh: Yes, you have to. When I was in the UK, I actually earned quite a lot of money but there was always something missing. You’re always looking for the ‘next thing’ and you’re never satisfied. The way I do it now is so much more fulfilling, because you feel like you’re really helping.
Like when we go overseas – we take a medical mission and we see people because we know it’s going to make a difference. We don’t get anything for it – if anything, it costs money – but it’s fulfilling. We feel a hell of a lot better when you come back. We’re saying, “When are we going to do the next one?”
I think it’s very important. It creates a connection with your team, and it creates a connection with your clients – they feel as if you are doing something positive. And – not that we’re doing it to look good – but it gives you a little edge there as well.
To learn more about Hitesh, and see some of his success stories, visit hiteshmohanlal.com.au