It doesn’t matter what it is, starting anything new is hard.
We don’t know what it takes to get started, what to do first, and what to do next. So we stumble along, trying to figure it out.
Climbing over that initial hurdle will be the toughest thing you’ll do. But once you take that first step and start moving towards your goal, it gets easier. Eventually, you’ll have clarity and direction.
Over the years we’ve heard from many NPs wanting to start their business; most are interested in starting a practice.
But not all. Some want to know how to can set up a non-clinical business while leveraging their education and experience
But there’s no easy answer to this question because there are so many possibilities. And when you take the internet into account, the possibilities grow exponentially.
A Wealth of Possibilities
Here are just some businesses you could start:
- A coaching business
- Be a health writer
- Create your own health based products
- Sell other people’s products as an affiliate
- Start your own e-commerce store
- Get started with speaking
- Write books or eBooks
- Start your own website or blog
- Publish on Kindle
- and so much more
As I said, the possibilities are endless!
But before you choose your path, there are two questions you must answer. You must be able to answer:
- What’s my market, who are the people in my market?
- What are the problems that I can solve for them?
While the basic process of starting a clinical or non-clinical are not drastically different, starting a non-clinical business is a slightly “different animal.”
When you start a clinic in your area of expertise, the foundational decisions happen by default: the market and the problem.
Let’s say you are a women’s health care provider. You provide health care service to women in your community; that defines your market and the problems you are prepared to solve.
But things rarely are as clear-cut when you start a non-clinical business. There are foundational decisions you have to make.
Before you can move forward, you have to decide:
- Who are the people in your market?
- What are the problems you will solve for them?
Business Is Market Driven
At the very core, all business is market driven. And while not apparent in healthcare, the same principle applies.
But what does that mean?
It means that business (any business) is created and sustained by market demand.
What creates market demand?
Market demand is created with the need to solve a problem or the desire to satisfy a need or want. That’s it!
And here’s a tip for you. The need to solve a problem is stronger in most of us than the desire to satisfy a want.
Here’s an example. Let’s say a friend of yours has marital problems and is facing divorce.
Devastated by the thought of divorce, your friend is trying everything possible to save the marriage: counseling, reading books on restoring a shaky marriage, going through a course teaching how to heal a marriage.
That’s motivation, that’s demand for a solution!
Now, you may be asking yourself: “What in the world does that have to do with me starting a non-clinical business?”
One Big Mistake
Well, everything… Because I don’t want you to make the classic mistake that would doom your new business from the get-go
What’s this mistake?
Offering a product or service because you like it, think it’s a great idea, or just “know” they need it, instead of listening to your market.
That’s the worst thing you can do. Don’t think for your market or second guess your market. Give your market what they want and ask for.
Let me tell you a story about the famous copywriter Gary Halbert. During one of his seminars, he asked his students:
“If you and I both owned a hamburger stand and we were in a contest to see who would sell the most hamburgers, what advantage would you most like to have on your side?”
Here are some of the answers he received:
- I’d want the best quality meat
- I’want to the best location
- I’d want the lowest prices
- I’d want the best signs for my stand
Not Gary Halbert! The advantage he wanted was “A Starving Crowd!”
In other words, there must be customers with real problems they are eager to solve… a starving crowd.
If you go against this maxim, you’ll find out that the people in your market could care less. They won’t be interested in your product, and they won’t buy it! And your business could very well flop.
Listen To What They Want
Let’s take a look at another example. And we don’t have to go very far to find it.
When appropriate, a provider may try to “sell” a patient on a healthier lifestyle, even though the patient is there for a different reason. The suggestion may be to stop smoking or to exercise more.
Not smoking and exercising more are always good. It’s good advice that would improve their overall health.
So what’s the problem here? The problem is that the person didn’t ask for advice nor wanted it.
Some patients are just there to get the purple pill, some the green pill, and others want no change at all. And it doesn’t matter you have good intentions and want the best for them.
There’s no market demand here because the person doesn’t want your advice (your product). Do you see what I mean?
So, remember this… To be successful in business, you need real demand behind your products and services. Not something you think is demand, but the type of demand that comes from your customers.
Let’s briefly talk about the market. Who are the people in your market you’ll be helping with your products and services?
While market and problem are often defined, as in healthcare, they don’t have to be. Let’s say you want to help people lose weight.
While there is a huge demand for weight loss, across all demographics, it would be hard to reach all the people in this market. And in reality, you don’t want to reach everyone.
Chances are you want to work with a particular group, and that’s why you want to define your market. Because when you’re clear about who the people are in your market, you can then directly talk to them.
Let’s say you want to work with teenagers who want to lose weight. You wouldn’t talk to teenagers the same as you would talk to older women, right? That’s why it’s so important you define who is in your market.
But now it’s time for you to think about the people in your market, the people you want to work with. What are the problems they want to solve? And how could you help them solve these problems?
We’d love to hear from you… leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.”