Entrepreneurs are creative and inventive people who identify an unfulfilled business opportunity/need or problem and then develop a product or a service to meet that gap. You analyze the consumer universe around you and identify what they need or want, and you try to deliver value to the customers through your creative process.
Entrepreneurship essentials have the following definition for an entrepreneur: “An entrepreneur invests money and recruits people to deliver a product or a service. They first determine whether customers value the product and whether they can produce and deliver it at a reasonable cost. They find better ideas in the marketplace and deliver superior value-added services in the marketplace.”
This blog will cover all the things you may need to be a successful entrepreneur and enlighten you with the key factors you really need to succeed in your business.
1) Behavioral Traits
These are not personality profiles but qualities or behaviors that are either ingrained or can be cultivated. These include curiosity, pattern recognition, experimentation, adaption, decisiveness, and persistence. These are also behaviors that can be developed through proper training and development.
2) Acquiring Essential Skills
- Communication skills: Every day, as an entrepreneur, you have to liaise with customers, vendors, employees, investors, and other parties to facilitate the growth of your business. Your effective communication skills decide the difference between the success and the failure of your business.
- Organizational and Time Management skills: Both these skills are required to ensure that you organize your tasks efficiently and complete them in a timely fashion.
- Making decisions based on hard data: Making rational, objective and measurable decisions based on hard data is an essential skill. The decision may encompass customers, businesses, products, and services.
- Strategic thinking: This skill equips you to do a SWOT analysis of your business, the environment, and the competition. SWOT stands for the strengths, and weaknesses of your business and the opportunities and threats that exist in the environment.
- Financial Accounting: You should develop at least basic knowledge of accounting as this will help you divine whether your cash flows are paying back, and whether your business makes profits or losses. If you do not have these skills, you must hire a trustworthy person capable of managing this side of the business for you efficiently.
- Resilience: All businesses do not succeed right off the bat. Some succeed, and others fail. Even in successful businesses, there are ups and downs which are systemic due to business cycles and some which are endemic to the business itself. Courageously riding through the downtrends to make the business a successful one is an essential quality.
3) An Opportunity Or A Business Idea
You have to identify a product or a service that is of value to the customers and can transform it into an accretive value that customers are willing to pay for. It covers its costs and may pay a profit over and above the product’s total costs to gain access to the product. You should test the product or the service and validate your results before introducing the product or the service to the market.
Your plan for a product or a service should be attractive to attract investors who are willing to stake their capital. They should believe in the end product or service and in their capabilities as an entrepreneur to risk their capital.
Last but not least, you must completely analyze the unique selling propositions of the product, its strengths, and its weaknesses before introducing it to the market.
4) Raising Capital, Resources, And Funding
Finance is the lifeblood of the business. To raise capital, there are multiple routes:-
1) To self-fund the business
2) Taking a loan from the Small Business Administration
3) Taking a loan from a bank or a financial institution
4) Raising capital from investors, whether private equity investors or other investors
Whenever you raise capital from outside parties, there is a significant trade-off. A trade-off between control over the business and the dispersion of risk. When you self-finance, you retain complete control over the business and profits, but you also run the risk of complete failure. External finance reduces the potential impact of any failure, but you also have to cede management control over the business and profitability.
Becoming a successful business entrepreneur is an amalgam of all of the above. Making sure you have the correct blend is the difference between success and failure.
As physicians and doctors, you must have dreamed of being a successful entrepreneur and owning your own business. Some of your plans may have fizzled out at the thinking stage itself due to financial reasons, fear of failure, fear of letting go of the known, and inertia in your careers. We all dream of starting the perfect business, but perfection exists only in dreams and utopia. It will not let progress on the path of success.
Going through some of the following steps may help you to crystallize your business plans:
- Do some soul searching
Your start-up venture embodies your passions and belief systems. Spend some time thinking about what shape you want your business venture to take and what your ideal company will look like. At the same time, identify your strengths and your blind spots/weaknesses. It is necessary to sort out the activities into what you can do yourself and what you can outsource. If you have an idea about an enhanced medical service, do some market research and validate your assumptions. Don’t go in blind into the market and try to market your services. Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto, said, “Know yourself and work in a job that caters to your strengths. This knowledge will make you happier”.
- The business should be one that you will be devoting the maximum time to
It should be one that you like doing and feel passionate about. Understand whether all aspects of the business suit you and your personality. Being friendly and cordial to customers is key. Try to analyze whether you have the required personality traits to make the business a success. You may be an excellent physician and doctor, but the patients must personally like you. Only then you can grow your patient base. Also, understand that you need to make the business a commercial success. Return on investment matters.
Your business will not succeed if you are making financial losses. Make a peer comparison. Understand how other physicians/doctors providing a similar service are faring. Understand the dynamics of the segment of medical healthcare. See whether you’re fulfilling an unfilled gap by starting and whether you offer a plus service that will attract customers.
Categorize your unique selling propositions. Spend some time refining your ideas. Go through a self-assessment process and validate the fact that there is a need in the market for your idea. Create a one-page template for your idea and a plan for it to succeed.
- Do some Market Research
This includes doing the following:
- Doing some google searches
- Speaking to fellow doctors/specialists who run similar businesses like your proposed business
- Researching people
- Evaluate your target audience by doing a market analysis- Identifying the location where you run your business and also researching how many people need your services, how urgently they need them, what is the approximate market size, and how long will it take for you to bring your service to the market? How much up-front investment is required? Will your business stay relevant over a long period?
- Then field tests a minimum viable service and pushes your consumers’ feedback on it.
- Develop a business plan with the following components
- An executive summary
- Target Market
- Products and Services
- Marketing and Sales Plans
- Milestones and Metrics
- Company Overview
- Management team
- Financial Plan
You can also flesh out an annual plan or a feasibility plan to flesh out the details of your operation.
5. Make Your Business Legal By Incorporating It In Any One of the Following Forms
- Sole Proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company
This separates the business and makes it a legal entity. Otherwise, you will have personal liability for the business.
6. Figure Out The Amount Of Money You Need
You should make a business plan which will tell you how much start-up money you will require. It should cover capital expenses and working capital expenses for at least six months of operation. You can either self-finance or borrow.
The various avenues are given above. If you are going through the borrowing route, your business plan should be credible enough to convince the bank or the investors to put money on the table. If your plan is systematic and executed in a structured manner, there is no reason why you should not accomplish your business objectives.
The various financing avenues you have available in front of your include
- Venture capital or angel investment
- Small Business Administration Loans
- Self-financing with help from your family members and friends
7. Pick A Location
Finding a physical location and signing the leases is the next step. Buying your capital equipment and getting the phones installed. If you want to start small, you can think about sharing your space with a co-lessee to reduce your rental payments until your business grows. You also take your business online by building your website. Be careful in your choices as a bad location can fail in the business. Consider the following factors while choosing a physical location:-
- Affordability: Can you afford rental premises in that particular location?
- Visibility: Are you located at or close to the center of the town? Are your promotions working to attract your customers? Is it easy for your customers to commute to your location?
- Access to parking or public transportation: There should be easily accessible parking places and bus stops. If people have to search hard for the same, they may forgo buying your services.
- Also, check how many private care clinics are located in the vicinity? If there are too many, too much competition can spoil your business.
- Local, city, and state regulations: Ensure that these regulations do not impose any restrictions on your business
- Second, you also have to integrate the online business. Your online website experience should be seamless. You have prioritized web development and your online user experience. Vet remote working tools, ingrain virtual processes and documentation from day one and ensure you know online communication.
8. Build Your Service Package And Pricing Options
If you build a too affordable package, it may cheapen your brand image. Very expensive and pricier options may restrict your clientele. So carefully choosing the correct package is very important.
9. Hire The Best Team
Business is like sports. You will only succeed if you have the right people working with you who can translate your goals into executable strategies. Hire good people and ensure that they are the best fit for you in terms of beliefs, philosophies, value systems, personalities, and skills they bring to the job. You should ensure that they feel passionate about the job and allow them to grow.
10. Create A Winning Culture
Creating a winning organizational culture is very important. Constantly monitoring and shaping it is important. Realizing this and managing the expectations of customers and employees is important. This is very important in motivating the employees to achieve seemingly impossible organizational goals
11. Cultivate Empathy
Today, both customers and employees have a plethora of options facing them. Understanding and empathizing with them is very important. If you have key employees, the key is to retain them and motivate them. Employee turnover and attrition are many difficulties faced by businesses today.
12. Find The Important Metrics And Focus On Them
Diffusing your efforts over different metrics will not result in success. Finding out the key metrics and focusing all your efforts on them will create a greater chance of your business success. Not following every opportunity but focusing your efforts on key strategic areas will make your business successful.
13. Use Incentives
All of us like to receive incentives. Incentives are a powerful way to motivate specific behaviors to form our key people, whether customers, investors, employees, or other stakeholders. As you have analyzed the key metrics, use structured incentives to bring about improvements in those areas. Do performance measurement to see if you meet your objectives and vary the incentives accordingly to achieve the desired results. Reward your customers; give them a free gift or a discount coupon. This will ensure repeat customers who will stay loyal to you.
14. Evolution And Change
Make small changes and use pilot programs to try new programs to keep your business current. These changes can be made in small areas before the changes are spread all over the organization.
Grow activities that add value and prune those which don’t. Whether it is your first business or the third, ensure that you expect that you will make mistakes. Mistakes are natural but learn from them. Ray Dalio, the billionaire philanthropist, said that making mistakes is natural, but learning from them and never repeating them is most important.
Develop forecasts and have continuous review meetings to examine the variances and analyze their cause. This will enable you to make decisions to modify your decisions and take course corrective action. This will ensure that instead of passively reacting to bad actions, you are amending your performance to produce better results.
15. Keep Your Eye On The Future
It is easy to get lost in short-term trends and lose sight of your long-term objectives. Make time and space to think about the long term. An external, objective advisory board can help, significantly when short-term trends derail your thinking and you get stressed about current challenges.
16. Asking for feedback:
Being an entrepreneur means you think imaginatively and are educated about the practicalities of business. Asking for feedback to improve your business is a positive step. Ask your customers who buy your services for their honest feedback about your services. It is not only to improve your business but find gaps in the market, problems whose solutions your competitors haven’t thought of. Learn about businesses which succeed and business owners who have done well. These are key to getting your business to succeed.
17. Motivating Your Employees
Your workers should not only be motivated, but they should be provided with the proper tools and equipment to enable them to remain productive. If you have daily administrative tasks, invest in software that can carry them out successfully. For the medical industry, you might need high-tech diagnostic equipment. By providing the right, good quality equipment, you ensure that all tasks that need to be carried out are done properly.
Key Success Factors Of Business
We constantly labor under the perception that the following are the key success factors to ensure the success of a business: tons of money, a business venture in the high tech areas, a novel, ground-breaking idea, and a lot of relevant experience or quitting your present employment.
- You can always start a small or a medium-sized operation. You don’t need high-end furniture or office refurbishments, a clean, small clinic with a pleasant ambiance is sufficient. If friendly service with relevant clinical expertise is available to meet your clients’ needs, this will more than suffice. Once your business volumes expand, you can migrate to a larger office to accommodate the needs of your growing business. The most important thing is to take the right step and start the business, no matter the size.
- A business venture in a high-tech area requiring a lot of technical expertise is unnecessary. There are many businesses in the traditional areas of medical healthcare which have unmet demand. You need to explore these areas and position your business strategically to capture this market. Hard work and effort are required to identify these areas. Telehealth applications will continue to be used for many routine applications that do not require a hands-on approach. Certain community healthcare seems virtual, so you must provide a seamless doctor-patient experience. Physicians in clinical as well as specialty care are facing a challenging environment. Knowing proper coding, the revenue-expenditure cycle is necessary for the sustainability of private care clinics, preparing the practices for the future.
- Do not wait for a novel idea in medical healthcare to strike you. Tried and tested methods and traditional healthcare offer enough opportunities. There has been a trend in large hospital chains taking over private care clinics, converting conventional clinical care clinics into specialty clinics, and extending the range of healthcare provided to oncology, cardiology, or orthopedics. This leaves a lot of scope for traditional clinical care-providing clinics to succeed. The personal touch and the friendly atmosphere available here cannot be replicated in corporatized clinics.
- Waiting to acquire relevant experience will leave you trapped in your job, and your zeal to start an entrepreneurial venture will be diminished with time. Starting a new venture will depend on your risk profile.
- Are you aggressive enough to launch yourself, heart and soul, into a new venture without a 100% surety of success? It requires willpower and mental strength to withstand setbacks along the way. You learn from your mistakes and also gain relevant experience along the way. In fact, you will be so hands-on in every area, not just the clinical medical area. Your learning will also be much faster. You will be better prepared for more clinical experiences than in a hospital system where you are just an employee. Here, you cannot decide which cases you want to treat, the allocation is left to the discretion of the attending physician or specialist.
- Initially, as you find your feet in your business and start producing profits, you can continue your employment and manage your business side-by-side. This will ensure that you have a cash flow pipeline in place until the business grows and becomes a success. You need to have key people in place to take care of your customers while working your regular job. Providing medical healthcare is not delivering services in exchange for money and making profits. As an entrepreneur, you need to be dynamic and flexible enough to accept changing needs and demand patterns to provide the best possible service to your customers. The most important factor is security. When you retain your job and start your venture, you hedge your bets. You are leaving your full-time paying job and starting a zero income business, at least for the short term. Plus, you are risking your capital. If your business fails to pick up decent momentum in the short term, you will be low on cash without a job. You can even leverage your professional networks at the job to boost your business. The only drawback of this is you will be overstretched working weekends and evenings at your business. There is also the risk that you may treat this as a hobby and not take it seriously enough. If you can reasonably manage to do both, you can retain the financial safety net of the job. But don’t compromise and work on the venture’s business when you are doing a job, be transparent with your supervisors and tell them about your venture and keep things balanced as you can also suffer from burnout. Studies show that entrepreneurs who combined both roles had greater success in their business ventures. But you know what’s best and will work for you. If you feel the pressure is too much, you can always quit the job if you are serious about making your business a success.
Set guideposts for yourself about embracing change and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Taking affirmative action and embracing change will turn your business into a success. Make your business evolve and change your clinical experience into positive skills which meet customers’ needs and create more value for shareholders and employees alike.
Have close interactions with your employees and team members so that they can help you deliver value to your customers. Stay connected with your long-term vision of helping people by providing improved healthcare. If you develop a powerful personal brand for yourself, opportunities will find you, you will develop online networking power, and in-person networking power, make you confident and stress-free. Most importantly, your business will find serendipitous success.
Use the Pareto principle of optimality, that 80% of your success comes from 20% of your efforts. Push yourself to identify this critical 20 % of your efforts and conserve your energies towards them to multiply your success rate. Also, analyze which 20% of the customers account for 80% of your sales and concentrate your efforts on them.