Oct 01 2014
Until you’ve worked on the front lines of a medical or therapeutic group practice, a private healthcare facility, or on a pharmaceutical or medical device core management team, you’re not likely to ever appreciate that healthcare entrepreneurship is a radically different beast.
Non-healthcare business entrepreneurs—minus the excessive regulatory compliance baggage—can afford to be more freewheeling than their healthcare provider-based counterparts.
Healthcare entrepreneurial ventures can carry astronomical price-tags for R&D. The accompanying array of complicated startup legalities, convoluted tax restrictions, partner negotiations, branding and marketing (Healthcare is NOT about smiling doctor billboards!), recruiting and interviewing, position statements, community relations, and building a referral base is enough to confound many dedicated providers who lack even basic business training or experience.
So what? Who cares? You might ask.
This is not to trivialize the amount of hard work and suffering that accompanies the launch of non-healthcare entrepreneurial enterprises—particularly those ventures giving birth to non-healthcare-related hi-tech products and services. It is simply that healthcare has it harder!
Initial non-healthcare-related business investments are often from friends and family who are happy to just get their initial money back.
But healthcare investors are often professional investor outsiders with no knowledge of your business, who want unrealistic return on investment, who are not interested in your sweat equity, and who want to own controlling interest in exchange for the funding they provide.
These wealthy individuals often seek to be “part of the action” and are willing to pay for it, but who will not let business founders off the hook if things fail — and, curiously, many who fit this description seem always to appear at the moment when you most need it.
The #1 underlying message here is DON’T NEED IT! When you most need money, you can be sure you’ll be communicating it without even a word, and that’s like blowing a game-starting whistle to send in the circling sharks. You think TVs “Shark Tank” name has no basis?
Underlying message #2 is STAY FOCUSED ON MAKING YOUR CORE BUSINESS WORK INSTEAD OF LOOKING FOR A QUICK FIX BY EXPANDING OR EXTENDING IT TOO PREMATURELY . . . TRUST YOURSELF AND BE REALISTIC.
So, if you have a choice between starting up a decorator windshield wiper blades company and establishing a business that aims to produce anti-bacterial clamps for micro-surgical openings, or starting up an orthopedic group practice, avoid healthcare pros money woes and go for the wiper blades! (But don’t think a year of that qualifies you to be in the windshield business, the windshield washer fluid business, and the rearview mirror business—or to think a 500-unit order means you need to break ground for a monster manufacturing plant!)
Just in case that thought crosses your mind, go back to the #2 message above, and if you do it right, you’ll be accommodating the #1 message without even trying. Because? Because you won’t need money because you’ll be too busy building your business and blowing out the walls of your garage!
If you’re truly “locked in” to a healthcare business startup, step carefully, listen carefully, speak and write carefully, and don’t let any amount of cash infusion take control out of your hands unless you have something else ready to put your hands on, and can (and are willing to) walk away comfortably. And remember–above all else– that Healthcare Leadership can mean only one thing . . . and it’s not Obamacare or “Lean” Management!!
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Hal@BusinessWorks.US or 931.854.0474 or comment below
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