Palmer Proud Magazine

Weathering Challenging Times

Alumni Q & A with Drs. Carson and Natalie Muth

The Muth family

Carson and Natalie Muth opened a small practice in Grand Forks, North Dakota with just the two of them and grew the
business to what it is today.

The economic and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt around the United States and the world. Palmer alumni Carson (Main, ’08) and Natalie Muth (Main, ’08) graduated and opened their practice in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 2008, during the last recession. We asked them to share their experience and advice on running their practice, whether during a recession or not.

You opened your practice just as the recession of 2008 was hitting. Tell us about that experience.

CARSON: Natalie and I put our business plan together early on and sticking to that plan as much as we could was so important to get our practice off the ground. And we started simple. We didn’t even have a part-time employee to start.

NATALIE: We actually didn’t have another employee for a long time. It was just the two of us.

CARSON: After a while, we hired a part-time college student and grew from there. So many people come out and want to hire associates and staff right away, but in uncertain times like we’re in right now, you have to start simple and work your systems. Just focus on treating your patients well, and they’ll treat you well.

NATALIE: Our reality didn’t look perfect, but we showed up authentically, grateful for the opportunity to serve our community.

What advice do you have for graduates, or students who will graduate soon and may be facing similar circumstances? What steps should they take?

NATALIE: Thinking of the steps we took to weather the recession and succeed despite the recession brings us back to our themes of a business plan, a simple start and focusing on community bonds. In our case, we worked with a small community bank and kept the lines of communication open with our lender. Joining and becoming involved with our local chamber of commerce and state association and having their support was also key to our growth.

CARSON: There is strength in numbers. Everyone should join their state association. What applies in Iowa may not apply in North Dakota or may not apply in Minnesota. Every state is different. Look to people in your community and other chiropractors to build your network of support when you struggle or have questions you don’t know the answer to.

What did you learn in your early years in practice? What do you wish you had known then that you know now?

CARSON: All of it! (laughing)

NATALIE: But you know, I don’t think I’d take any of it back. We opened our clinic in May, and our first child arrived in early August, so we’ve been a family business from the start. What that looked like for the first six to nine months was Carson and I splitting time between the front desk and patient care. Sometimes that was done with a baby in our arms. It was a full and overwhelming year, but that learning experience can’t be replaced, so I don’t know that I would change a lot.

How have you managed during this time?

NATALIE: In my part of the practice, I focus on pediatrics and prenatal care, and we’ve been following all the recommendations from local, state and federal government. When I had to pack up the toys in my practice, I fought back tears. Patient volume has been down, but our patients have been so thankful they have somewhere to go to receive care for their musculoskeletal conditions without going to a walk in clinic or urgent care.

CARSON: I just try to keep some normalcy by getting to the office at the same time every day and working on little things in the practice.

NATALIE: We’ve had steady growth throughout the years by focusing on giving people the tools they need to get well and stay well. We also play a strong supportive role for our community which, especially in the current situation, has been key for us and will continue to help us. It’s the backbone of our practice.

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