In order to be a successful physician entrepreneur, we need to cultivate skills we have not required in our training. For instance, selling. We are not practiced at selling our skills and expertise in exchange for money.
We may be skilled at persuasion, needing to convince patients of a diagnosis or the importance of taking medication, having a procedure, or lifestyle changes, but it is very different to convince someone to part with money in exchange for our services.
The first person we need to convince is ourselves. We need to believe in our own values first.
We know that we have a very high-value skill set. We need to learn to be able to appropriately financially value those skills.
Networking is another business skill that we are not taught, but is required in business. While we are in training, we are building our networks without realizing, but afterwards, it requires more effort. Networking is about cultivating relationships, and it should be done in such a way that it is enjoyable.
The joy comes from the relationships being meaningful, not transactional. Expand your network through service and flattery – try to think of how you can be of service to others. Be respectful and stay curious. Also, flattery will get you everywhere; if you read someone’s book and it helped you, let them know.
Some of those emails will evaporate into the ether, but some may lead to worthwhile relationships.
Another way to network that may feel unsavory is the “pay to play” networking events that have admission fees. In the business world, these are high value events with high value people; just as we need to appropriately value our time, these networking events are often appropriately priced for the return on investment; you can create connections that are worth the price of admission.
You are not paying someone to be your friend; you are paying someone for the value they provide.
Physicians can also be intra-preneurs, where you bring your business skills to your workplace in order to help make it a place where you and other physicians can thrive. This can apply to negotiating pay, call, mid-levels to help with the workload, coaching services, etc.
Another lesson that private practices can learn from the business world is leveraging email.
We collect email addresses from patients, but are reluctant to use them. Businesses treat their email lists like gold. It is a way to keep your practice top of mind, keep the schedules filled during slower seasons, and inform patients of changes at the practice.
As we are building our businesses, it is important to keep the end goal in mind – selling the practice. That might not be your goal, but a business worth selling is also a business worth keeping, so it can help guide decisions.