ARE YOU A LEGALLY SAVVY ENTREPRENEUR?

Unless you are a devout Apple follower, you likely a Microsoft product somewhere on your computer.  However, there were numerous situations that could have altered the trajectory of Microsoft that Bill-Gates-thu-398x281would have led to a different company dominating the software market over the last 30+ years.  I would argue that one of the reasons that Microsoft survived to become a dominant global brand is because of the legal savviness of its co-founder Bill Gates.

While Gates’ passion, drive, and intellect helped him become one of the world’s richest people, what many people don’t know is how legally savvy he was in building his business. For example, when 19 year old Gates and Paul Allen read about the Altair computer in the 1975 issue of Popular Mechanics, they knew they could create some software to make it more useful for hobbyists so they contacted its manufacturer (MITS) and pitched them on the idea of building this software.  They persuaded MITS to enter into a 10 year deal transferring the exclusive rights to their first software product (BASIC) to the company.

Gates had a provision in the contract that said that MITS had to use “best efforts” to market the software.  MITS was purchased by another company and they sent Micro-soft (as it used to be know back then) a letter saying that they would never sell to a competitor.  Well, that proved to be the “smoking gun” in an arbitration suit that allowed Gates and team to have full rights back to BASIC which they went on to license to many other people.  The rest, as they say, is history.

When it comes to successful entrepreneurs, we often hear them described as visionaries, innovators, or creative geniuses, but I believe there is another quality that is available for anyone who wants to invest the time and effort.

 That quality is to be a legally savvy entrepreneur.   I don’t mean that you have to have a law degree to be successful.  However, I do believe that it is important to take responsibility for the legal aspects of your business, understand the legal terrain of your business and industry, and make informed decisions on legal matters.

To help you consider whether you are a legally savvy entrepreneur, I have summarized below a series of questions to consider:

(1) Do you delegate all things legal in nature to counsel or are you actively engaged?

(2) Do you read the documents you sign?

(3) Do you understand the key provisions of the contracts your company enters into?

(4) Do you know the key legal issues in your industry? Your business?

(5) Do you view your legal counsel as “necessary evil” or a strategic resource?

(6) Do you understand the key tools at your disposal?

(7) Do you understand basic legal terms and language?

As an entrepreneur, there are numerous issues to consider such as your product/service, competition, staffing, CASH FLOW, and managing risk.  Ultimately, you are trying to build a great business and increase the value of your enterprise.  Whether you like it or not, the law and legal matters are interwoven with all aspects of your compamy.  The question is whether you are addressing them in a proactive way.

Put simply, when you as the leader of your business sit down to negotiate your next deal, if you are not the more legally savvy entrepreneur at the table then prepare for trouble.   In my next post, I will discuss some proactive steps you can take to be a more legally savvy entrepreneur.

HOW TO VETT A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY

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Like other high-income earners, physicians are often sought after sources of angel investment funds for start-up or growing businesses. I am often asked to review and analyze these business opportunities for physician clients.  In this article, I am summarizing the key considerations for evaluating potential investment business opportunities in startups or growth companies.

Vision, Values, and Strategy

Can the company’s management articulate a clear vision and strategy for the company? In other words, do they know what they stand for, and do they have a plan for where they are going?  Many companies suffer from a lack of focus.  Research supports that companies with a narrowly focused strategy will generally outperform the competition.  I am wary of any company that can’t clearly articulate their value proposition in the marketplace in 30 seconds or less.  I also look for whether management and employees are all in sync on the company’s vision and strategy.  Many companies overlook the creation of a value statement.  I prefer companies that know what they stand for.  Difficult times will face every organization.  Value statements that have real meaning and adoption provide anchors during turbulent times.

Execution

This is one of the hardest things to actually find out in due diligence, but probably the most important.  Here, I am trying to determine whether the management team can actually execute the company’s strategy.  Many people confuse effort and activity with execution.  Successful companies have high functioning teams that execute with purpose and passion to get things done.  I ask questions about how management creates accountability in the organization or look for examples of past execution to try and determine whether the management is execution-oriented.  Other clues to whether a management team can execute is the level of organization, timeliness, and if they are goal oriented.  I like to see clear written goals and action plans.

Products/Markets

People raising money for a company should have a clear command of the marketplace they are competing in and how their products and services stack up against the competition.  Is the company swimming in the “red ocean” of a very competitive market or the “blue ocean” of new and untapped markets?   If they are in a very competitive market, then can they clearly articulate why their product/service is differentiated from the competition?  In a new market, how are they pricing their products and gauging the overall market opportunity?  Many companies venture out and find that their market is actually much smaller than they thought. It is helpful if the company’s industry has solid data on size and growth.  High growth companies need large and growing markets to thrive.  I look closely at the price sensitivity of the products/services and the barrier to entry of other people to compete.   I also prefer recurring revenue companies versus companies that only have one-time sales.  Is the company a one trick pony or is there a pipeline of other products/services?

Management

No matter how good the products and services a company may offer, ultimately the success of a business depends on the quality of the people.   When you invest in a company, you are really investing in the management team.  Most companies in early funding stages lack a complete management team. I try to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the management group, and I want to understand how they will shore up the deficiencies in the short term and what their long-term plans are for fully staffing the management team.   Does the management group complement each other or is there too much overlap?  Are any of the founders part of the management that may soon have to be replaced?  Replacing a management team member can be a time consuming distraction for a company.  I prefer managers who have experienced both success and failure.  We all know we learn more from our mistakes than our successes.  I would prefer that a management team not learn their failure lessons with my investment.  Great managers are great leaders.   They are high performers and can attract top talent.  I have found that the best leaders are great coaches and know how to get the most from their employees.   You want to avoid know-it-all’s and micro-managers because they will ultimately prove to be poor leaders and will run off talented employees.

What is the Exit?

Most investors eventually want their money back out of the company in a reasonable amount of time.  A typical time horizon is 5-7 years.  What are the long terms plans of the company?  Are the founders creating a lifestyle business or a high growth company?   Typically, lifestyle companies will have slower growth but greater profitability.  High growth companies, often referred to as gazelles, usually focus on top line revenue growth.  These companies will typically lose money at first.  I look carefully at the “burn rate” of these type companies and want to understand when profitability will occur.  It is critically important that the owners and management all be in sync on the trajectory of the company and the goals for exit.

The Deal

Ultimately, the opportunity to own part of the company must be for the right price tag.  All pro-formas tend to look alike with slow growth in the early years and then the proverbial “hockey-stick”  high growth in the later years.  The investment and corresponding ownership should be reasonable based on very conservative financial projections. There are also a number of ways to creatively structure a deal to provide additional risk mitigation for investors.  In addition, the legal terms and conditions of the corporate documents you will be signing are a major factor to consider.  Structuring the financial deal and key terms and conditions will be explored in more detail in a future column.

While this is an abbreviated list of due diligence considerations when vetting investment opportunities, hopefully it will provide you a framework to begin to consider future investment deals.  For an easy checklist summarizing these points and others, feel free to email me, and I will send you a copy.   Good luck in your investment future!

OFFENSIVE STRATEGIES DURING DIFFICULT TIMES

Screen-Shot-2016-02-19-at-11.00.46-AMIt has been said, “necessity is the mother of all invention.”

Likewise, a recession and layoffs can prompt many people to consider the path of entrepreneurship.  A recent report by the Kauffman Foundation, a leading entrepreneurial think tank, validates this trend.  The report showed that approximately 530,000 businesses per month were created last year compared to approximately 519,000 per month in 2007.  Notably, the formation of high potential income new businesses was down compared to low and middle-income potential businesses which were up. This trend indicates that many of the new businesses were probably formed out of necessity.

There is a myth that entrepreneurship is only for those with a high tolerance for risk. 

The truth is that successful startups are founded by people from all ages and backgrounds with a passion to bring their goods and/or service to the market and who effectively manage risk in changing environments. 

Whether you are exploring a career shift to being an entrepreneur or your business is trying to consider how to weather this storm, I have listed below some of the ways savvy individuals and companies are capitalizing on the state of the current economy:

  1. Offer More for Less Most businesses are trying to stay competitive in a difficult economy utilizing less. Often with fewer people and less budget, managers are being challenged to squeeze increased productivity out of their limited resources. If your value proposition allows your target customer to do more with less, then you will always have a market.
  2. Find Your Treasure in Another Person’s Trash.  Many businesses are buying up fixtures and supplies at a fraction of the cost from companies that are downsizing or closing their doors.  Similarly, proactive entrepreneurs are buying up distressed real estate, businesses, bank loans, and even whole banks at incredible bargains.   These are people who don’t adopt a doom and gloom mentality but think clearly in times of difficulty and make sound long term investments.
  3. Go on the Offense When Your Competition is on the Defense.   As companies are pulling back their spending and hunkering down, customer service, marketing, and  product development often suffers.  This is a golden opportunity to go on the offense to grow your market-share. As big companies have frozen their R&D budgets, now is the time to bring your innovations to market.  Also, many companies are re-evaluating their supplier relationships to find cost savings. Again, this allows you to step in and offer “more for less”.    As one entrepreneur stated “the hungriest wolves hunt best.”   This is the time to be on the hunt, not playing defense.
  4. Go Fishing for Talent Whether you are looking for full time employees or part time contractors, now is the time to find talent at reasonable rates.   Big companies are not just laying off their poor performers, many are laying off some of their best and brightest people as whole divisions are being forced to close.  This is a great time to strengthen your organization by attracting top talent to join your team.    Don’t get caught up trying to make everyone a fulltime employee. Skillful entrepreneurs know the value in “renting” mind share from the best and brightest people.
  5. Show Me the Money Even though bank financing is still a scarcity, you may discover that finding investors is an available option for your business.  Since most real estate and stocks are not attractive alternatives right now, there is a tremendous amount of cash waiting to be deployed.  I am finding that the right deals are still being funded by those wanting to deploy cash in “real” businesses.

I don’t discount at all the pain and hardship that many people are enduring as a result of an economic meltdown.  However, I want to encourage those who seek to find opportunity out of difficult circumstances.  Those with a “glass half full” mindset may find that even career and business decisions driven out of necessity may turn out to be tremendous blessings in the long run if strategic thought and action is properly applied.

BUILDING A FAST GROWTH COMPANY

Recent research funded by the Kauffman Foundation tells us that over 440,000 Americans are starting businesses every month.

Most of these businesses are sole proprietorships or small firm ventures – the type of companies that make up the backbone of our economy.  However, some of these new businesses have the potential to experience rapid expansion and become breakout growth companies.  These types of fast growth companies, often called gazelles, certainly succeed against the odds. Verne Harnish, author of the book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, notes that there are 23 million firms in the United States and that only about 4 percent ever get above $1 million in revenue.  Of those, only 10 percent ever make it to $10 million revenue (0.4 percent of the total).

These stats lead me to ask the question – what does it take to become a successful fast growth venture?

Uncovering the Principles of Success

I am fascinated with the art and science of how companies with dreams and desires to become fast growth ventures can successfully achieve their goals. For years, venture capital firms have struggled to locate the next big thing; however, we know that out of any portfolio there will likely be far more losers than winners. While that success rate may ultimately work out for the VC firms and their investors, those failures are not good outcomes for the dedicated men and women working in those businesses. Thankfully, recent research is starting to shed more light on how to increase the odds of success for fast growth enterprises. While there is no silver bullet, there are principles that can be applied to help businesses increase their chances of success.

Thinking “On” Your Business

In this article, I will focus on one of the core principles for turning businesses into gazelles – methodically sizing up your business. Management teams need to periodically and methodically stop and honestly size up their business. For most leaders, the path from startup to creating a stable business is a whirlwind of activity. I rarely see owners/management in this stage that routinely take stock of where they are in their business. Most business plans, if there ever were any, are usually collecting dust on shelves.  When you are in survival mode, it is understandable that taking time for seemingly theoretical concepts such as planning, analysis, and goal setting seem like a luxury. However, to help take the business to the next level, leaders need to begin the disciplined habit of critical analysis and planning.

Clarity

While the type of analysis will vary depending on the business and industry, the benefit of this principle is the same – management should come away with a clear vision of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, market position, and where opportunities for growth may be available. For the owner, this is often also a chance to reflect and make sure the business is meeting his or her personal goals for being an entrepreneur. The key is to come away from the process with clarity.  This clarity will help focus the efforts of the team to propel the company forward. Without this clarity, the sheer volume of decisions, challenges, and opportunities can be overwhelming.

Planning For Success

In the late 1990’s, I had a unique opportunity to participate in a venture backed dot.com in Silicon Valley. While the dot.com ultimately failed, like many others at that time, the experience was memorable and invaluable training for working with fast growth entrepreneurs.

I was fortunate to meet many successful entrepreneurs during this period and was struck by their focused vision and execution. Almost every one of these individuals had a disciplined practice of methodically evaluating their business. In addition to these anecdotal observations, this principle of planning is backed by leading research which tells us that it plays an integral role in helping businesses achieve their full potential.

HOW TO VETT YOUR NEXT BUSINESS IDEA

Entrepreneurs are people with big dreams and ambitious goals. They pour their time, energy, and resources into their business ventures in hopes of success. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against most of them reaching their destination. Statistically, we know that most will fail within the first five years.  However, there are some people who defy the odds and somehow achieve success as serial entrepreneurs.   Are some people just born with the Midas touch?  What is it that people like Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, Ltd, have that gives them the ability to repeatedly strike gold in the cut-throat marketplace?

While there is no one magic bullet, there do appear to be some consistent themes.  One quality worth noting is the ability to critically vet business ideas to make sure the new venture has a fighting chance.  This takes rigorous analysis and the ability to honestly and objectively review the idea and the entrepreneur’s own ability to execute.

Clark Love, a native Mississippian, has achieved the goal that most entrepreneurs only dream about – he has successfully started a business, grown it, and sold out to a larger company. Love, a graduate of Ole Miss and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, started Forest One, Inc. (later renamed Lanworth, Inc.) in 2000 at the age of 28.  Lanworth is an information technology company providing consulting services, applications development, and software to the forest products, environmental, and land management industries.  Love originally founded Lanworth with his college friend Dr. Henry Jones and grew the company to be a multi-million dollar enterprise with the main offices being in Jackson and Chicago.  In 2007, The Westervelt Company acquired Lanworth.

While Love achieved his goals for Lanworth, he has not remained idle.  His entrepreneurial drive has already rekindled as he in the process of launching several new ventures. Love’s analytical training as an engineer in college, his experience as a consultant with Accenture, and his “real world” experience with Lanworth and other startups has allowed him to develop a framework for analyzing new business opportunities.  His checklist for a new business venture includes the following requirements:

Have a Cause

The product or service offered by the business should move people.  Love added, “It doesn’t need to move everyone, just the segment of customers I plan to go after and the people I will hire.  You want a business people will put their hearts and soul into.”

Know Your First 3 Customer’s By Name

An entrepreneur should know by name the first 3 customers for the product or services the business will offer.   Many people have ideas about what will work in the marketplace yet they have never actually vetted the idea with a potential customer.  You need to know if anyone will actually buy your product or pay for your service.

Build a Recurring Revenue Model

A large majority of the revenue should be recurring so the business does not have to start from scratch each year.  Having a solid financial base of recurring revenue allows for more growth opportunities.

Be Passionate about Your Industry and Customers

Love noted, “Starting a company is incredibly hard, harder than most people realize.  Pay and economic reward are not enough – you really need to have a passion for the business and serve customers that you actually care about.”  This passion serves as the “pull through” that helps you get through the difficult times as an entrepreneur.

This checklist can serve as a useful tool in analyzing any new business opportunity.   I believe that serial entrepreneurs like Clark Love will play an integral part in Mississippi’s future in creating jobs and opportunities for Mississippians.  Hopefully, we can collectively make Mississippi, Tennessee, and the Mid-South attractive places for entrepreneurs to invest their passion and energy into creating world class businesses.

5 WAYS TO RAISE CASH FOR YOUR BUSINESS

For many entrepreneurs, these are trying and uncertain times. Cash is critical and many companies are facing the twin fronts of attack of vendors wanting their money up front and customers delaying payments.  All the while, employees still need their regular paychecks. Therefore, if a business is experiencing a liquidity crisis, management (and their key advisors) must act quickly to assess the situation and determine the appropriate plan of action.

The first course of action is to determine whether, and on what terms, additional cash resources might be made available.  There are a number of ways a business can free up cash.  The determination of what options to pursue will depend on the specific facts and circumstances and must take into account the health of key relationships (i.e. vendors and bankers) and the general economic climate.  Below is a list of some of the options available for entrepreneurs:

  1. Trim the fat: Reduce overhead and cut expenses

Most businesses wisely start here because the decision to cut expenses is within the control of management and generally does not require the need to get approval from outside parties such as lenders. This cost reduction could include closing unprofitable store locations or divisions. Sound accounting and reporting makes this analysis and cost reduction process much easier.  However, from a strategic standpoint, you need to make sure the cuts are not so deep that they disrupt the business’ core economic engines.

  1. Get stingy:  Aggressively monitor collections and trade credit (especially to new customers)

A liquidity crisis often happens in an economic slow-down (like the current one we are experiencing) when all businesses are fighting over limited cash resources.  Therefore, many customers become “slow pay” or “no pay” and cash receipts begin to shrink. If your business is owed money, you need to obtain it.  Even if you have to bonus your collections personnel or use an outside agency, this additional cost is worth it if it brings precious cash in the door.   Keep in mind, however, that aggressive collections also requires a balance – you don’t want to alienate key relationships.

  1. Consider your leverage: Cash out or refinance existing debt

If your company is paying above-market interest rates on debt or is carrying debt against assets with substantial equity, then you should exhaust every effort to refinance the debt to cash out equity or to lower its interest carry.  However, it would be better to keep above market debt (especially if is revolver with an additional room for draws), then to obtain a new loan with financial covenants that will ultimately restrict flexibility and further distress the company.  Also, the time required (and closing costs involved) must be considered in determining whether refinancing current debt is a feasible option.

  1. Go back to the drawing board:  Seek concessions from existing creditors

If new financing is not available, then existing creditors are another option to consider.   Keep in mind that “creditors” includes not only traditional lenders, but also includes vendors that may provide goods and/or services on short-term credit.  Therefore, among the options for resolving a liquidity crisis is to ask vendors to extend payment terms, grant discounts, or provide other forms of relief.

  1. Get a shot in the arm:  Obtain cash through an equity injection

There are many investors that are not afraid to look for value in the form of distressed companies.  However, the “cost of equity” is often far greater than the cost of debt – particularly in high-risk scenarios.   Furthermore, these investors will usually want to protect their cash via a controlling economic and/or voting interest in the company.   This option often does not sit well with management, particularly if the company is still in control of its founders.

Again, these are just a few of the many options available.  Some of the most successful companies were founded in recessions (e.g. Southwest, Microsoft, Genetech).  By proactively and realistically addressing the liquidity crunches in their businesses, hopefully many companies will weather the current storm and potentially even turn this downturn into an opportunity for growth.

 

Originally published in Pointe Innovation Magazine

HEALTHCARE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENTREPRENEURS

 

We live in a high velocity, flat world economy.  New business models, products, and markets are appearing at a fast and furious pace.  Whole new careers are available that weren’t around even ten years ago.  Job opportunities for being a search engine optimizer or webmaster weren’t on the career menu when I graduated Millsaps in 1990.  I can’t even imagine how it will change by the time my daughter Ally graduates college in 2022.

For entrepreneurs who observe, study, and understand these trends, opportunity abounds. There are probably no greater opportunities right now than in the healthcare industry.  This article will review five emerging trends in healthcare technology.

Bio-Connectivity

Bio-Connectivity has been described as “the marriage of the computer chip and connectivity technology to medical devices, and ultimately, to people.” Two high growth areas within Bio-Connectivity are wellness monitoring services and e-health services. Wellness monitoring allows doctors to remotely monitor a patient’s condition. E-health services provide pro-active medical care. For example, a patient could have a sub-dermal patch which provides for automatic delivery of the pharmaceutical but also allows the treating physician to monitor its effect. Digital Connect Magazine, which monitors development with home and business connectivity devices, suggests that U.S. revenue from digital home health services will quadruple to exceed $2.1 billion by 2010.

Bio-Informatics

Bio-Informatics, which is predicted to be a $3 billion dollar market by 2010, is the field of science in which biology, computer science, and information technology merge to form a single discipline. Advances in the field of molecular biology together with advances in genomic technologies have led to an explosive level of growth in biological information generated by the scientific community. This massive amount of information has led to a great need for computerized databases to store, organize and index data and sophisticated tools to view and analyze this data. For example, when faced with the overwhelming task of identifying each of the individual victims of 9/11, the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner turned to a small software company called Gene Codes and its software based on the principal of Bio-Informatics to address the issue.

NanoMedicine

NanoMedicine is the medial application of the ability to manipulate and modify material properties at the molecular or nanoscale level. It is predicted that the United States’ demand for nanotechnology health care products will grow to $50 billion in 2011. This technology is being utilized in pharmaceuticals, diagnostic products, medical supplies and devices.  For example, scientists in Illinois are using corn protein to create new skin and deliver medicine through nanotubes.

Health 2.0

Health 2.0 is the emerging concept of the Web 2.0 phenomenon as applied to healthcare.  As a starter, you can think about the world of Facebook and MySpace and the power of social collaboration in the healthcare arena.  Websites such as www.patientslikeme.com connect patients together to share and support one another. Health 2.0 is more than just social collaboration, as evidenced in one definition of Health 2.0 companies as “those next generation health companies that leverage the principles of openness, standards, and transparency; utilize the technology tools of collaboration, information exchange, and knowledge transfer; and focus on delivering value added services that empower health participants (patients, physicians, providers, and payers) with freedom, choice, and accountability for health outcomes.”

These are exciting times.  Business markets and opportunities have literally expanded from the city square to around the globe. I am optimistic that our state and its talented and visionary entrepreneurs will be a part of leveraging these and other trends in healthcare technology.

 

Originally published in Pointe Innovation Magazine

ARE YOU A MEDICAL ENTREPRENEUR?

Successful Medical Practices

All doctors are medical entrepreneurs to some degree. Since the pioneer days in America when they hung a shingle outside their practice door, doctors have been the original medical entrepreneurs.

A simple definition of an entrepreneur is “a person who has possession of a enterprise, venture or idea and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome.”

Sound familiar? Physicians, like other professionals, often practice in solo or group settings where they are the boss and certainly experience the intrinsic risks and rewards of their medical practice. You may not necessarily feel like an entrepreneur and that’s certainly understandable. A physician’s first and foremost responsibility is obviously patient care. In fact, almost all of medical training prepares physicians just for that task. However, most professionals, including physicians, rarely are trained on how to run their own practices.

I have spent more than 25 years operating and working with entrepreneurial business ventures, and I am now the CEO of an emergency health care company in Memphis, TN, Emergency Mobile Health Care. I have had the good fortune to study with and learn from some great mentors in this arena, and I’m passionate about seeing people fulfill their entrepreneurial potential. I’m excited to share with you in this column some of the key principles I’ve learned about entrepreneurial success, and specifically, how those can be implemented in a physician practice setting. In addition, I’ll highlight some notable medical entrepreneurs and offer tips on how to evaluate business opportunities outside of your core medical practice.

I begin with the simple premise that your medical practice is an entrepreneurial business, and that your practice shares many common features of any entrepreneurial organization. Common characteristics include people management, implementing systems and processes, taking care of your customers, and financial risks and rewards.

People Management (or Cat Herding)

Rarely do I find an entrepreneur or a physician who operates as a solo act. To run your practice, it takes nurses and staff to operate effectively. Therefore, your success becomes interwoven with your ability to get the most out of the people you work with. Anyone who has every managed an employee knows that hiring and developing talent is no easy task. Therefore, the questions become: what kind of leader are you? Are you getting 100 percent from your team or are they giving you the bare minimum to get by? Building a great team around you is a key step in your path to success.

Systems Management

Every medical office, like every business, also has systems for doing things. The question is whether you know what those systems are and how are they working.  Are you streamlined and efficient, or are you daily enduring broken systems?  Exemplary practices have written ways to do things that people understand and follow. The way Chic-fil-A can serve up a great chicken sandwich no matter what store you visit in the country is based on one simple thing: a great system!

Customer Management

Your patients and referral partners are your “customers.” Every time one interacts with you, they have a customer experience. Do you know what that customer experience is? Have you thought through your interaction from first contact to final communication? Is there consistency and predictability in what your customers experience with you? Great practices have a well thought out customer experience cycle that is clear and repeatable.

Financial Management

What about the bottom line? While we all hopefully work to pursue a calling and seek personal fulfillment, we also are trading our time and effort for money.  Today’s medical practices are complicated and can be difficult to manage financially. There are lots of expenses, and reimbursements tend to go down and not up. Therefore, keeping a careful eye on the bottom line is critical. Physicians, like many busy entrepreneurs, tend to entrust financial responsibilities to others in the organization. However, I believe it’s also critical for physicians to know and have clear visibility into the key economic drivers of their businesses.

Thinking Strategically

Finally, as entrepreneurs, I encourage physicians to take time to work “on their practice” and not just “in their practice.” Most people are so thankful for a day off that they rarely want to turn around and think more about work. However, most of us stay in the trees and rarely plan and dedicate time thinking about the forest.  The end result is that we often feel like we’re on a treadmill we just can’t seem to get off.

I spoke with Robert Harris, MD, a urogynecologist with Women’s Specialty Center in Jackson, MS, who is a well known entrepreneur physician. He shared:

“I try to purposefully take time away from my day-to-day practice each week and work on improving both my practice and my life.”

For Dr. Harris, this has allowed him to not only strategically improve his medical practice, but also to create the time to pursue medical start-up businesses outside of his bread-and-butter practice.

In sum, we give a great deal of ourselves to our work and professions. By becoming entrepreneurially minded, you help not only gain better control over your practice, but also your life.

(c) Martin E. Willoughby, Jr.

 

Originally published in Medical News

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