“Oh, to be my own boss and run my own physician business!”, you might be fantasizing as you endure yet another day of meaningless bureaucracy or horrible bosses.
Not so fast, say some of us. Being a physician entrepreneur or medical practice owner in these uncertain economic times can be downright scary. And you are not alone – many of your entrepreneur colleagues in other industries are experiencing the same sleepless nights and nail-biting stress.
A couple of years ago, Entrepreneur magazine addresses the top five fears of entrepreneurs in an article titled “What Are You Afraid Of?”
I’ve paraphrased them here for you, along with the advice given by a seasoned entrepreneur and a psychologist, to provide you some fear relief.
#1: “My medical practice or business is going to tank …”
… and I am going to look like an idiot to my family and friends.
I once read that truly successful people, when looking back on what they have done to date, focus on the 15% they have accomplished rather than the 85% that still has to be done.
The take-home message: at minimum, sit down once a month and list your accomplishments for the prior month. Maybe it’s numbers of new patients seen that month, numbers of steps of the new project you completed, or simply numbers of days you got home early enough to spend time with your family!
#2: “In this economy, I’m not sure if there’s enough business”
As dire as the economic news seems to be, it’s good to remind yourself of this fact: many hugely successful businesses have been started during recessions and depressions.
You could succumb to your fears, OR you could put on your creative, thinking cap, dig deeper and come up with ways to take advantage of the opportunity that these conditions present. If you’re finding things tough, your competitors are likely experiencing the same. The difference is they are not reading this blog and being provoked to think outside the box and look for ways to capitalize on the opportunity
#3: “Sometimes I think I’m working for the worst boss – myself!”
Owning a business and being a boss demands great discipline and perseverance. It can be very lonely working for yourself, with no one to guide you or consult with you.
The key to tolerating the instability of being a physician business owner is to set goals – for this, I favor smaller goals that can be accomplished in a shorter period of time, rather than BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Achieving the tiny goals will allow you to add to your list of monthly accomplishments.
#4: “I’ll never have enough time to do it all”
Running your own business is a never-ending task list. There is always something you could be doing in your spare time to work ON the business.
At this point, I could resort to clichés like “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, but the phrase that I best use to keep myself centered comes from my husband who once told me “You can only do what you can do”. As trite as that may sound, it has served me well over the years.
Physician traits die hard – we are not trained to ask for help. And we are lousy at delegating. Instead, we like to write orders and expect they’ll be followed.
To succeed in your busy medical practice or business, you will need to learn to focus on doing the work that only you can do, and delegate or outsource the rest. That may involve training others, which is tedious and time-consuming … and really worth it in the long run!
And remember, at some point in the day, it is time to go home, kick back, let go.
#5: “I’m going to run out of cash before I succeed with this medical practice or business”
If you are already in practice or business, I hope you’ve done enough homework to determine that there is a genuine need for what it is you have to offer.
And if you’re on the brink of getting started, then please make sure that you’ve done this important leg work.
It used to be that one could just hang up a shingle, and patients or clients would find their way to you without much effort. In fact, it was pretty much that way back when I started in the practice as a family physician in 1989!
It’s different now. Patients are being encouraged to act much more like “consumers” and to “shop around”. Patients and clients alike have the Internet at their fingertips. And competitors abound.
It is highly unlikely that you will run out of cash if you have a) done your homework to ascertain that there is a genuine need for your offering, b) developed a realistic business plan, however simple, to forecast your revenues and expenses and know that you can cover the latter and c) created an implementable marketing plan that you execute diligently.
Put yourself out there – in person, online, wherever your target market gathers. And present yourself as personable, authentic, and dedicated. This way, you are likely to enchant your future patients or customers!
What are your biggest fears, and how do you keep them at bay?