It starts with an idea…
Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the single most difficult and liberating decisions you will ever make. For me leaving a stable career as a doctor to setup my own firm was either an act of arrogance, bravery or stupidity, I can’t quite decide yet. What I do know is that the journey has already taught me so many lessons and I have met so many people who’ve shared an immense out of common sense and wisdom that I want to share some of it. Most of this isn’t rocket science but it’s worth saying and sharing!
“Well done is better than well said…”
Ben Franklins’ words are even truer today than when they were first said. There’s a huge chasm between ideas and reality and no matter how much you believe in yourself or your idea it doesn’t matter unless you do something about it.
LESSON1 – Google is your friend.
There are countless business websites out there that you can use to get you started. Startups.co.uk, NewBusiness.co.uk ,Inc.com/startup, Forbes.com/startups and Entrepreneur.com are just some of a litany of websites with great advice for the novice business mogul.
But even before you get there you should put pen to paper and write down what exactly your business or product wants to achieve. What’s the question you’re trying to answer? Who’s asking the questions? How badly do they need the answers and who else has tried? Importantly, is there anyone who can help you?
Talking’s Still Useful!
Once you’ve distilled down your ideas into a few key statements start talking. Start with friends and family who you can trust to hear you out but also to call you out. Use this initial period to constantly go back to the drawing board to define and refine your concept.
Lesson2 Define your Value Proposition & Unique Selling Points.
Ok, so now I’ve used some jargon but effectively your value proposition is what is going to set you apart when solving a problem compared to your competitors. Why should I use your product or service? How will it satisfy my needs? What happens if it doesn’t work out or we get encounter hitches and glitches?Answering those questions is not easy because you can’t think of every customers’ possible demands and issues. You can still talk to a lot of people and that’s through the magic of social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg are all sources that you can use to join discussions about the problem you’re trying to solve.
Make or Buy?
One of the early questions is how much can you do yourself? I was lucky that I had my best friend from medical school who I formed my business with but even then the question loomed about whether we needed anymore skills? We decided to invest in our education by enrolling on business/management degrees to enhance our knowledge beyond our clinical knowledge but for one of our early tech ventures we decided to outsource the programming.
WARNING – IF YOU PAY PEANUTS DON’T EXPECT QUALITY
We learned that the hard way and that early experiment didn’t quite work out. On the flip side if you research the market well websites like Guru.com can provide cost-effective expertise through countless professionals who use the internet as an effective medium to reach customers. Just make sure to always do the background research. Another problem we encountered with one of our early employees was that his communication/rapport style didn’t fit with the image we were putting forward and after trying to address the issue it was clear that we wouldn’t be able to work things out. Instead of letting the problem fester and personalities to get in the way we made the decision to part ways in a polite and amicable way.
Learn to Say No!
Saying no is hard especially when your passion and a great idea gets people talking to you but when you’re small being nimble and agile is key so you shouldn’t overstretch yourself too soon. Some projects and clients can be too big so you have to think hard about what you can and can’t deliver right now.
LESSON3 REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING
If you promise to do a project and don’t have the resources or skills yet to deliver especially within a time frame then you risk destroying your reputation before you’ve even started. Start small and work-up. You’ll be surprised how quickly people take notice and the bigger projects will come knocking again.
So far I’ve gone over some of the initial pitfalls of becoming an entrepreneur especially when you come from a regimented medical or scientific background. In Part II I’ll discuss more of my experiences and shed some light on more specific issues that face healthcare innovators and entrepreneurs particularly the ever feared ‘Priesthood of Medicine.’!
This is a blog for everyone so please share with any and all entrepreneurs and tweet me @Saif_Abed
Dr Saif F Abed Founding Partner AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd www.abedgraham.com