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About Philippa Kennealy

 

Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC is The Entrepreneurial MD Business Coach who wants to help you build your business!
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Tuesday
Oct312006

10 Essential Small Business Tools

10-31-06helpinghand.jpg

With the imaginatively named business, Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch provides a wealth of resources to help small businesses succeed, particularly in their marketing efforts.

He periodically complies his "Ten" lists, offering his opinion as to why the items qualify for his list.

As I was browsing through my filed e-mails, I came across this one, called Ten Essential Small Business Tools, to share with you. 

A few comments:

I recently gave up my Spamarrest account as I switched my e-mail account to Gmail. I discovered that Gmail is great at catching spam, gives me a glimpse of the first few words of the e-mail without me having to open it and saves me the cost of paying for Spamarrest, which did well as a spam blocker/catcher, but still allowed as much spam through as Gmail does. 

Instead of Bloglines, I use My Yahoo as my feedreader. No special reason - it just works for me, and most blogs have an easy sign up to receive their blog feed for My Yahoo.

I own a copy of ACT 2005 that I planned to use. However, I never got around to investing the time to learn how to get the most out of using it (isn't that the story of so many purchases we make?).

Instead, I took a wonderful 6-week tele-class series called Outlook for the Entrepreneur by Paul Wagner, the Software Magician, on how to maximize my use of Outlook 2003. And that demolished any need I might have had for using ACT as my contact management software! Instead, I became a whiz at using all kinds of features in Outlook that I never knew existed!

Please share resources that you consider indispensible for your small business. Thank you!

Thursday
Oct262006

Is an MBA worth it?...

10-26-06MBA.jpg

..... is the title of an article written by Wayne J. Guglielmo in Medical Economics that I came across this afternoon.

I am often asked this by physicians in conversation, and it has been one of the questions I have often posed to the successful physician entrepreneurs I have interviewed for my Conversations with Trailblazers Audio Series.

It turns out, according to the article, that the answer is "maybe...or maybe not".

As quoted in the article, an MBA offers certain benefits.

"An MBA degree can:

  • Enhance your credibility in the business world. It can change people's perceptions of you, as several of the doctors we talked to said. With it, you're no longer considered "just a doctor"—someone who's probably superb at what he does but who may not know beans about the commercial world. You've been admitted to the club, so the calls you make are more likely to be returned, and your ideas taken seriously. In short, the added credential boosts your clout in the world beyond medicine.

  • Introduce new subject areas and new ways of thinking. An MBA degree can also give you the knowledge, vocabulary, and perspective you need to succeed in business, whether that means running your own practice better or building a new business.

  • Build teamworking skills. The business and medical school approach to education is very different. The MBA's team approach and its disciplined system for tackling projects have proved life changing. When students who've had business-school training come back into the medical world, they're much more accepting of working as part of a team," says Ken Veit of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "They know they can't simply dictate. They're eager to work with the nurses, techs, and administrators to make, say, an OR schedule work better."

  • Renew your love of learning. Even if you have no practical goal in mind, getting an MBA can simply be a lot of fun—a way to meet new people, learn new things, and stimulate another part of your brain."

All but one of the physician entrepreneurs I have interviewed to date have started and grown businesses without an MBA. Reflecting on their decisions and experiences, they made the following remarks:

  • An MBA can provide valuable theory, but it cannot put the fire in your belly that you need in order to cope and thrive as a business owner or product inventor.

  • There has been nothing as valuable as hanging around with other entrepreneurs and successful business people.

  • In order to open meaningful doors as an entrepreneur, unlike a physician healthcare administrator, it would have been necessary to get an MBA from the top 10 MBA schools - places like Harvard or Stanford or Wharton.

  • Either mentoring or good partnering, or both, have been the biggest keys to building confidence and helping overcome lack of knowledge. In several cases, they took advantage of a "vicarious MBA" by partnering with trained business folks.

  • None of the interviewees regretted not having gotten an MBA, even though some confess that it probably took longer to gain access to funding, and to build financial and marketing expertise.

Are you surprised?

I was, as many of the physicians I have interviewed run substantial consulting, investment banking, software development, and other companies. Others are "solopreneurs" with strong businesses, and incomes that exceed those of clinical practice. In some ways, these single self-employed doctors face greater challenges as they have had to master all the aspects of running and growing a business.

What emerges above all else from my conversations with physician entrepreneurs is their restlessness with the status quo and their impatient desire to fix what is broken, improve on what is mediocre or merely adequate, and invent what isn't yet available. In retrospect, stopping along the way to get an MBA would have caused a frustrating delay and consumed valuable dollars needed for channeling into start ups.

Any comments? I'd love to hear your thoughts, as I feel certain there are strong opinions about this decision! 

Monday
Oct232006

One of my favorite blogs is...

10-23-06blog.jpg

...... Creating Passionate Users! Written and illustrated by the sharply intelligent and imaginative Kathy Sierra, her posts are filled with information and passionate opinions about how to connect to your "audience".

Think of your audience as your patients, your staff, your future business's clients, those to whom you are giving a presentation. Kathy wants to help you turn them into ardent fans.

Two recent blog posts stand out:

Better Beginnings: how to start a presentation, book, article... from yesterday, details how to give speaking presentations or to write in ways that grab the attention of your otherwise overstimulated and communication-challenged audience or readers. Her topic headlines include:

  • Do NOT start at the beginning!
  • Show, Don't Tell
  • For the love of god, DO NOT start with history!
  • DO NOT start with prereqs
  • MYTH: you must establish credibility up front

She proceeds with a slew of thoughtful ideas about how to begin your speech or article.

And concludes with (in her words):

"Always grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph, send your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tagline." -- Paul O'Neil

That's the goal, but only the truly talented can actually do that. Me? I'll settle for getting the reader to give me just one more moment. Then another. Then another. And I value deeply (and feel lucky for) each moment y'all are willing to give me.

Reducing fear is the killer app is another great post that rings so true for us in the medical profession. The story Kathy tells to illustrate her point reflects upon the huge role the healthcare profession can play in reducing fear - in this case, she writes about a healthcare person who performs well.

As an aside, Kathy has an impressive following of readers, and by highlighting her positive experience at a particular hospital to such a large subscriber base, her post serves as great PR for the hospital.

Imagine if she, or someone like her, were blogging about your bedside manner, or office efficiency, or organization's customer service. What would she, or your blogging patients or customers, be saying about you? Such is the power of "social marketing and networking"!

Thursday
Oct192006

Working from home is an IMPOSSIBLE dream.....

10-19-06homeoffice.jpg...... or so I thought ten years ago! I realized that it's been about that long since I began harboring that fantasy.

As a practicing Family Physician back then, as much as I tried to picture myself earning an income while wearing jeans (let alone PJs), I could not reconcile that image with my reality.

Fast forward ten years, and here I am, wearing workout clothes, trying to persuade myself to exercise, while I sit in my home office and write this blog post.

What happened?

It's too long and probably uninteresting a story to tell here, but I made the transition, starting ten years ago, once I gave myself permission to recognize that clinical practice wasn't satisfying me any longer. I needed to do something different, be someone different. And I wanted to hang onto some core skills and parlay them into another career.

It took another 6 years of working administrative and executive positions before I summoned up enough courage to begin living my dream --- start a business from home. The kick in the butt came from my then-kicking fetal daughter, as I faced the dilemma so many women physicians face. How could I be available enough to my infant, and later small child, and still fulfill my urge to grow and learn and earn professionally? For most physician moms, there is no easy solution.

I discovered a wonderful resource in the form of a book by Kristie T (unpronounceable last name) - called I Love My Life: A Mom's Guide to Working From Home. In the book, she provided all kinds of support, ranging from practical to guilt-free emotional. She's also candid about some of the challenges of a being a WAHM or WAHD (work-at home mom/dad - yes, she didn't forget dads!!).

The book serves as a basic, succinct guide to the steps you need to take to get a business up and running, but it does assume that you have an inkling of what it is you want to DO in your home-based business.

To help those who are struggling with their options, Kristie has a couple of chapters entitled "Work-At-Home Opportunities" and "How to Discover Your Passion" that provide ideas and stimulate reflection. The exercises she outlines demand a lot of resourcefulness and out-of-the-box thinking that may prove to be a struggle for many physicians. Most of us have been locked into a well-trodden traditional path for most of our career lives and it is a challenge to truly envision life on another path.

I'll be the first to acknowledge that it takes more than some exercises and ideas in a book to tap into what is possible and fulfilling to create from home. It takes research, talking to others, and even professional guidance from experts to figure it all out. I did all of that.

However, I stand firm in my belief that, with the motivation and perseverance that characterizes self-starters and most physicians, it IS possible to chart an entrepreneurial course from a home-based office. Even if you only do it part-time, or on the side of a reduced-hour or per diem practice that many women physicians are opting for.

For any of you physician moms or dads, or physician non-parents, here are a few helpful web resources to tickle your imagination and further your fantasy of working from home:

Webmomz: Kristie T's a co-founder of this resource-filled website.

Home-Based Working Moms: one of the better known sites, also with a wealth of resources and ideas for home-based businesses.

Mompreneurs Online

StartUp Nation: A comprehensive resource for any business start-up.

InfoProduct Insider: A business started by a physician, "Dr. Mike", to help you develop an on-line business selling information products.

If any one else has any great resources to share, please do so by posting them in the "Comments" area (the light turquoise link at the top of this blog post).

Good luck, and let me know what you're thinking about doing as a WAHM or WAHD!

Tuesday
Oct172006

When aspiring physician entrepreneurs have fears, what do they do?

10-17-06plunge.jpgWhen 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?