Making His Passion A Profession - David Goldman’s Business Story
Updated: 2 days ago
Welcome to another edition of Solo2CEO Podcast, the show where we interview individuals who started as solo and are now CEOs of their businesses.
Today we are fortunate to have someone whose passion for his craft has led him to his success in the field of physical therapy. He is the founder of Goldman Physical Therapy, whose commitment is to provide the best services to its patients.
Let’s get to know David Goldman from the beginning of his journey to the continuous realization of his goals of giving his physical therapy patients the professional care they deserve.
Tell me what you do.
I am a licensed physical therapist, and I have a physical therapy practice in Englewood, New Jersey called Goldman Physical Therapy.
At Goldman Physical Therapy, we give one-on-one care to our clients. A physical therapist is focused on the patient for the entire time of the session. This is what differentiates us from other physical therapy centers.
How did you get into physical therapy?
My journey goes way back to high school when I first developed my real passion for physical performance. I was on a high school wrestling team and my goal was to become a state champion. I realized my goal in my senior year, after failing three years in a row.
In college, I went to Boston College and got into wrestling, marathons, and triathlons. I was a psychology major but I felt had a passion for physical performance and optimizing physical function. That led me to do a career search.
One of my high school wrestling coaches owned physical therapy practices. I went to volunteer just to check out the profession. From there I realized that physical therapy could be a perfect combination of psychology, a motivating mindset, and human struggle.
That experience led me to start applying to physical therapy schools. It was quite challenging and difficult considering that there are only 50 physical therapy schools in the country.
I was told that I should be competitive to enter this kind of school. Since I love competition, I took all the prerequisite courses and I got high grades. Because of that, I got waitlisted for Columbia University.
I was determined to get into that program. My motivation pushed me to do everything just to get into Columbia University. I attended the orientation program, even though I was only on the waitlist, I got to meet the director of the program and I called her many times to follow up on my status.
In the end, all my hard work paid off because I was finally accepted into the program. Attending physical therapy school was an amazing experience for me.
Describe your first job as a physical therapist.
My very first job was with the New York City Department of Education. I worked with children of different multiple handicaps – congenital disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and lead paint poisoning – it was a difficult and heart-wrenching job for me. As a physical therapist, I saw little development with my patients because any progress would have to come from some genetic innovations or surgeries.
While working at the Department, a couple of my colleagues and I started a physical therapy practice at a small gym in New York City. We named it Chelsea Physical Therapy. It was a part-time activity – we would work from three o'clock to seven o’clock daily while we were in the Department for our daytime shift.
I enjoyed working and I slowly started transitioning to going part-time at the Department for two days a week while working on my practice for two full days rather than just for the afternoon.
I took the risk, and I was glad it went well. I eventually left the Department of Education and concentrated on full-time practice. My partners were not keen on taking the risk but they still came for their afternoon schedule
How did you manage to cover everything when you went into full-time practice?
At the start, it was break-even for me from my income from the Department of Education. It helped that I slowly left my work and transitioned to private service. I first started changing my schedule from three days of work with the Department, then decrease to two days, until I eventually left for good.
It was a challenge for me, but it was mitigated by the size of the risk I was taking. Doing private service has enabled me to get more clients through word-of-mouth. It is really effective, the more people I get to help, the more people they tell about me.
There are also patients who come to us with a referral form from a doctor. I always try to build connections with the doctor who would hopefully become a referral source, and hopefully would bring some patients to us.
I was also fortunate to be included in the NYU Hospital for Joint Disease Preferred Providers List. It allowed us to connect and meet new doctors. It helped us serve our patients better because we could follow their progress from the surgical and operating room through physical therapy.
What brought you to where you are today?
While I had a thriving business in the city, some of my friends from Englewood who participate in triathlons would call me up to use my therapy services They were not properly trained and had injuries. More people came to my house for appointments, and I used a lot of time for them. I asked them to charge their insurance for my services, to which they gladly agreed.
As I started billing the insurance, I realized that I am being paid more by the insurance in New Jersey than I was in New York. It was a great opportunity for me. I didn’t have to commute and I could serve my friends and neighbors here without making them travel to the city to see me.
I rented a more suitable space for my practice. My client base increased until I felt the need to transition out of my practice in New York first with two days and then to three days a week.
Eventually, I needed a bigger space for my growing business in New Jersey. I moved from one gym to another, and I became an in-house therapist. I serve their members as an added service to the gym. We had a great partnership because we shared our successes with each other. Most of my clients became members of the gym while more gym members became my patients.
What happened to your therapy practice in New York after you decided to leave?
My decision to leave the business in New York City became a huge opportunity for my partner, who took over my full schedule. He did not take much risk and worked full-time in the practice.
We shut down the business after about 10 years into practice, right at the beginning of the pandemic. He moved and opened a similar practice in his hometown in Garden City.
How did you provide service during the COVID pandemic?
Our service transitioned to some virtual care. Since we were not able to do manual therapy, we taught patients how to do the exercises and activities themselves. All these were done through one-on-one sessions. It was a learning process for both of us as physical therapists and as patients.
What are some of the real challenges that you encountered, and how did you overcome them?
One of the real challenges I encountered was being a lifestyler, as my friend called me. He told me that to be successful as a physical therapist, I need to transition to becoming a businessman.
I loved what I was doing but I was limited by the amount of time I had. I perform one-on-one appointments, and it is very taxing. As my business was in the service industry, I was selling my time, and I can only do so much. I was considering hiring additional manpower, but I was afraid nobody wanted the service of another person aside from me.
I realized that people don’t care much who gives them service as long as they were getting better. So, I hired physical therapists who have similar characteristics to me – passionate, enthusiastic, and someone who can motivate and make the experience better for the patients.
I hired additional therapists based on the trajectory growth pattern that I used. When the schedule of one therapist reaches about 80% to 85% full, I hired another.
How did you go about the marketing aspect of your business?
I would say marketing the business was a challenge for me. I tried doing things on my own – going to doctors’ offices and trying to connect with them. I discovered that there were big therapy practices with fully-equipped marketing teams that operate in hundreds of locations.
These therapy businesses show up with marketing materials such as pens, memo pads, and other stuff. Compared to me, I visit the doctor’s office during my free time and all I can give are flyers or business cards. It was very difficult for me to catch up with that kind of marketing.
What I did was I hired a company that directly markets to patients rather than to doctors. For me, it was better in the sense that I don’t have to worry about revenue decreases that go with the decrease in referral sources.
This advertising company is very interesting because they use techniques and strategies that market to very specific niches of people. It was so specific and innovative.
Marketing is a very tricky thing, If you want to grow your business, you have to figure out how to market it.
What is the biggest compliment you have received?
The biggest compliment I ever received is that I recruit those who come to work in my place and just be the best physical therapist they can be.
I look for therapists whose work has been redirected to managing or supervising other practices but are wanting to do physical therapy. These people have all the understanding and knowledge of how to grow the practice because it was part of their responsibility at their previous offices.
I don’t just want the therapists to be happy. I want to create a happy environment for both the patients and the therapists. Having this kind of environment allows therapists to be enthusiastic to provide the best care to their patients. Their passion overflows and the patients feel it. This experience will encourage the patients to recommend our services to other people.
I believe that how we treat our patients is the right way to treat them, and because I want to do more of that, I hire more therapists who provide the same type of care that I give.
How do you deal with your workers who are enthusiastic about their job but have unfriendly personalities?
These kinds of people weed themselves out. They are subjected to evaluation by the patient. They will let you know if your worker is not a good fit based on their experience. It is hard to fire people, but you have to do it because it can affect your business.
What are some tricks that you have learned now that you wish you always knew?
Moving forward without fear is something that I wish I had done more than five years ago.
Inspirational writers give you amazing advice, and to benefit from them, you have to apply these to your daily life. Most of the time you are afraid of making mistakes because you don’t want to fail. But you cannot get through life without making mistakes, and from these, you learn. The next time around, you will be successful.
How do you handle being a practitioner and a CEO at the same time?
There are advantages and disadvantages to handling both positions at the same time. I am still learning as a PT and as a businessman or the CEO of this company.
There was a time when I had ruptured my biceps, but I just continued working with one hand. I was that passionate about my work. I loved what I was doing, so I found a way to do it. But I know that time will come when I will not be able to do my job as a therapist anymore.
Over the years, I have developed a relationship with my patients, they have become my friends. So, I can’t imagine myself not doing the service to people who have become my friends.
How do you approach work-life balance?
If you have your own business and you are not somebody else’s employee, you can make your own schedule. I schedule time with my family, but I also give opportunities for my patients to have time slots with me.
I tend to work too much, but I remind myself to appreciate everything in life and not take anything for granted. I am working towards a goal to spend fewer hours at work and set up a proper system for my business to run by itself so that I can spend more time with my wife and kids.
I don’t want to give up physical therapy, so I plan to work fewer hours. I have to balance my life for family, marriage, and everything else. But sometimes, my wrestler mindset gets me thinking: Just do more, keep doing more. Don’t give up.
Every Monday morning I have this mindset: What opportunities are coming my way and what will I do to make them happen this week?
What can you say about social media and its effect on us?
Social media creates a community where people will get to know you, and feel like they know you. The content these people create is valuable to us, and it feels amazing. In as much as there is so much negative stuff that social media shows, there’s just as much positive stuff that is helpful to people.
The title of our podcast is “Solo 2 CEO”. In this podcast, I get to speak with people involved in service-based businesses. How would you connect yourself to the title?
I am solo and CEO. I have my hands on patients all day long because I haven’t given up that actual physical therapy care. I work side by side with my employees because I still want to do it. My passion and involvement are still there, and I can’t see myself not doing it.
If you are interested in physical therapy services and you live in the area of Englewood, New Jersey, you may contact Goldman Physical Therapy at any of the following: