When I talk to physicians who want to be more entrepreneurial, I am often asked:
How do I handle all the excuses, fears and doubts that surface every time I think about taking the plunge into starting a business?
Great question – and one that is hard to bring out in the open without somehow feeling exposed. After all, physicians are expected to be the ones with all the answers and advice! We aren't supposed to show fear.
I have a confession to make. I approached the start-up of my coaching business as if it were a repeat of building my medical practice – I’d just have to stick around long enough, coach a few people and have everyone suddenly figure out that this was the best thing since sliced bread. I expected clients to come knocking.
I recalled that it hadn’t been hard building a practice – most people already have an idea of what doctors do. All I had to do to set myself apart was to be nice, show a personal interest, explain what I was thinking and doing with my treatments – and boom, the patients poured in. I was also helped by joining an existing practice with an overflow of patients in the early days.
Well I was wrong!
Being a coach in my own business was a vastly different matter. A good coaching relationship is hard to describe under the best of circumstances – it is something that is better grasped through experience than being explained!
I struggled to communicate what it was I did, when at networking or business events. I felt awkward asking for a meeting with someone. I squirmed when I had to quote a prospective client my fees. Getting my business going was proving to be very difficult!
I knew I had to change my expectations about how to succeed and it filled me with terror. What if I had to make cold calls? How was I ever going to persuade someone to part with his or her money to work with me? What if I couldn’t make enough money, even though I knew how to coach well?
With the help of wonderful teachers, including my own coaches, I discovered that:
- Fears and doubts are normal. No normal people are fearless! Successful people make it despite their fears. Unsuccessful people fail because of their fears.
- There is reality, and then there is the “fiction” of what we have come to believe is true. When you inquire carefully into your objections, excuses, and assumptions, you often discover that your ideas or beliefs are not founded in reality. They lack proof to substantiate their accuracy.
- If you feel passionate about your idea and believe you’d buy what it is you have to sell, you are offering something of value. People should be allowed to buy your valuable offering if they want or need it! And your job is to put in place the processes that make it as easy as possible for them to buy it.
- You don’t need all the answers right away. You need good questions! Good questions, that others ask you, lead you to test your assumptions (either those overly optimistic or those unduly pessimistic ones). Good questions are also things you can ask of others in your quest to figure out next steps.
- There is NO shortage of helpful information out there. In fact, there is so much good information that there is only a shortage of time to consume and digest it all!
What is the biggest fear that confronts you any time you think of taking the plunge?