11 Ways to Generate Income–When You’re Not Working

By Peter G. Shaw-McMinn, OD

Sept. 7, 2016


Working smarter often means working less, delegating to associates & staff, and investing capital for growth. Here are ways to set your growth plan in motion.


ASSESS WORK/LIFE PREFERENCES. Think about whether you are satisfied with the number of hours you spend in the office, or if you would prefer to spend less time seeing patients.

CALCULATE EXPENSE & GAIN OF ASSOCIATE. See if you have the patient load and income to hire an associate. Ensure the associate will stay busy with patients and bring money into the practice.

SUB-LEASE OFFICE SPACE TO OMD. Share your office space with an ophthalmologist, and fill eyewear prescriptions for his or her patients in your optical.

With Vision Expo West this month, I am reminded of when Wayne Woods asked me to give a lecture, “Make More Money While Playing More Golf!” The lecture was about making passive income in your practice—income that you yourself are not generating. Income you can generate while being on the golf course.
I noticed my two children, also ODs, are working hard to build their practices, but not taking advantage of passive income opportunities afforded in independent practice. When they were little, I had a severe car accident and nearly died. That prompted me to consider income opportunities that allowed me to be with them as they grew up. Are you taking advantage of passive income opportunities?
These are some of the ways you can generate income while playing golf:
VISION THERAPY. Build a vision therapy practice with trained vision therapists to do the work.

AN ASSOCIATE. Hire an associate OD, who can see patients while you’re out of the office doing whatever you like.

OFFICE EXPENSE SHARING. Expense share with an OD, charging him rent of 30 percent of gross income.

UPSCALE OPTICAL. Create a dispensary that markets high-end frames and lenses.

COMPLETE YOUR OWN LENS JOBS. Design a finishing lab for your optician to complete jobs.

instruments used by staff and interpreted by you.
SUBLEASE OFFICE SPACE. Sublease the office part-time to an ophthalmologist, and then fill eyewear prescriptions generated from that OMD.
PROMOTE OPTICAL TO NON-PATIENTS. Advertise locally to attract even non-patients to your optical with prescriptions to fill.
NUTRACEUTICALS. Prescribe and sell nutraceuticals in the practice. Be sure to thoroughly educate patients on the benefits of these supplements.
SELL EYEWEAR & EYECARE ACCESSORIES. Sell contact lens solutions, contact lens cases, artificial tears,  lid wipes, MGD treatments, lens cleaners, frame accessories and frame repair kits.
PROMOTE SUN PROTECTION. Market plano sunglasses and clip-ons, and educate patients about the danger of ultra-violet radiation and blue light.

I’ve used all of these ways to generate passive income. Even if it is a dollar more for selling a contact lens case, it is a dollar I didn’t have to do anything for. After 38 years of practice, those dollars have added up.

At one point I had three different ophthalmologists paying me rent to use my practice a half a day a week. They brought in their own staff and generated many prescriptions that we filled in our dispensary.

Training a visual therapist can yield wonderful rewards. When I first began offering vision therapy I believed that no one could do it as well as me, but as the practice grew, I had to train a therapist. It turned out she was much better than me. She could tell the patients and parents to work especially hard because the doctor was going to check on their progress. Her focus was on vision therapy, while mine was divided among all the other aspects of the practice. I learned to delegate from this experience.

I think my children, who have become ODs, probably believe that only they can do the best job in the practice. It is difficult to be everything to every patient. Get an OD to specialize in glaucoma, low vision, or dry eye, and you may be surprised at how well they perform. You may also be surprised at the passive income they can generate for you while you are playing golf!


*Graphic designed by Dr. Shaw-McMinn, and adapted from the book, “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki.

Peter G. Shaw-McMinn, OD, is an assistant professor of Clinical Studies at the Southern California College of Optometry. He is the senior partner of Sun City Vision Center, a group practice including five optometrists. Dr. Shaw-McMinn has served as chairman of the AOA Practice Management Committee and the Association of Practice Management Educators. He was the appointed Benedict Professor in Practice Management & Administration for the University of Houston College of Optometry for 2001-2002. To contact:


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