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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
Oct022012

Creative business ideas for physicians - a new resource

I recently had the opportunity to interview, by email, Rene Andreasi-Bassi, an intriguing entrepreneur in Holland (non-physician), who founded and now manages a website offering creative startup ideas, potential business ideas, business ideas for beginner entrepreneurs and business ideas for college students.

I posed the following questions:

1. What are the main ideas behind your business, buymyidea?

"The main reason for starting my online business was based on the fact that I want to act upon my passions in life. In my case, this is generating creative startup ideas for others. I work a full-time creative job at Discovery Channel which I still love. As my overdriven brain comes up with so many startup ideas outside the TV business, it’s practically impossible for me to execute all of them. That’s why I created BuyMyIdea.com where I put all my ideas up for grabs.

You know, 50 years from now, when I lie dying on my death bed, I don’t want to look back and think of all the great business ideas that never saw the light of day. Instead, I want others to get hold of as many of my startup ideas and realize them for me."

2. What is the source of your own creativity?

"The sources are all around me. My environment inspires me constantly. Where others walk past an empty store in the main street without noticing anything, my brain starts rattling away. I come up with new creative opportunities that benefit both the neighborhood and the entrepreneur that wants to realize the startup idea. People inspire me too, especially when they are looking for answers to a certain problem. I then generate ideas that others wouldn't come up with that quickly. The so called "out-of-the-box" ideas."

3. How can readers of my blog post develop their own creativity further?

"Start brainstorming! Make sure you use a maximum of 4 people (I think 3 is best). To my opinion there are two contexts in which you can be creative in brainstorms. 

The first is brainstorming by adhering to a creative brief. This brief is pre-written and holds all the metrics you want to achieve. 

The second is having a brainstorm that is boundless and a super flight of ideas. During this kind of brainstorm there are no rules and anything goes. You will notice that many crazy ideas emerge, which can eventually lead to the right one. That said, creative juices flow best when the topic at hand is right within the business you love the most."

4. What does it take to go from idea to viable business? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

"In short: (1) research, (2) funds, (3) the right people and (4) perseverance.

I sometimes describe this process as building a rope bridge over an abyss. The idea is the first tie up on one side; it is crucial for the first psrt of the bridge to hang solidly. The realization of the business that lies ahead can be compared to the building of the rest of the rope bridge -- a huge endeavor. You first have to climb down into and up out of the the abyss to get to the other side. During this walk you need the best climbers (workers) you can find. They explore the environment (your competition), and at the end they tie up the other end so everyone can cross. This comparison shows you that the initial idea is the least of your work. Setting up a viable business is where the real effort lies."

5. How do you see your business helping aspiring entrepreneurs?

"My site helps entrepreneurs who are looking for new startup ideas and inspiration to think outside their comfort zone. These ideas can inspire them to innovate within their own existing business or while creating a totally new one. Along with my startup ideas, I also write inspirational posts on how you can generate your own ideas."

6. What if any guidance do you offer your purchasers in expanding the ideas?

I offer a free thirty minute skype call in which we can go into more details. We discuss possible hurdles which I try to overcome with new smaller creative ideas.

7. How might your ideas be adapted and useful to entrepreneurial physicians?

"My ideas cover an extensive range of businesses. Retail, products, apps, websites and even movie ideas. My ideas inspire people to think differently. They give you an insight in the world as we know it and show you there are opportunities right in front of you, no matter what business you are in. The only thing you need to do is to acquire that mindset and you'll be see them yourself. 

My father is a gynecologist and my stepfather is a psychiatrist. So I grew up with physicians as my main examples in life. I notice that physicians like to stay within or close to their specialized work field in which they love to communicate with fellow physicians. Patients are spoken to during private consults. In my opinion there is a lot potential in connecting these worlds more publicly.

You know, when someone feels ill (s)he immediately consults Google to find answers. There are many bogus websites that tell the wrong things which scare people unnecessary. The government here in Holland has freed up a large budget to create a major health website that is legitimate and offers online consults as the initial step in getting care."

8. If someone wanted to learn more about you and your business, how could they do so?

"That's easy, just drop me an email and question away. I'm always available for that. I'll try to answer all emails I get and that's working out good so far."

The best part about Rene's business is the ideas only cost $1 apiece!

Tuesday
Sep252012

A non-clinical career - steps to achieve the success you are seeking

Once in a while, I coach a physician whose journey to a non-clinical career is so smooth, it is nothing short of perfection.

I recently enjoyed this opportunity with a physician client who came to me (as a generous shared referral from coaching colleague Michelle Mudge-Riley) with a one year-long plan to transition from her current clinical role into some kind of non-clinical job whose description she did not yet even have!

She had a very clear timeline based on the exit demands of her current clinical position and was ready to get into action. What struck me most about our initial interactions was how realistic her expectations were!

After diligently identifying what she might want to do and why, in her new non-clinical career, and then following through on all the steps we outlined together, she recently found herself on the verge of receiving an offer for her "ideal job". Barring something totally unexpected, she can anticipate starting in her new non-clinical position on exactly the date she had planned for.

There are many lessons to be learned and shared from this experience for those of you who are looking to exit your current situation, whether that be for a new clinical position (another group? your own practice? your new concierge medicine practice?) or the start to a non-clinical career.

Lesson 1. Know your own What
Be clear about what you are seeking – have a vision of your life moving forward, that inspires you. 

Lesson 2. Know your own Why
Understand why you are making this transition. Have a clear sense of purpose and to be focused on what you are moving towards, rather than on what you are running away from. 

Lesson 3. Only once you know your What and Why should you then focus on your How
Only once my client was equipped with the tools of vision, purpose and core values, where she ready for us to begin formulating her transition plan. These steps are all too easily missed, which makes for muddled thinking and a "throw a bowl of spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks" approach.

Lesson 4. Balance "Reality" with stretching yourself
My client quickly understood the reality a transition to a non-clinical career might present, and rather than be disheartened, she opted to challenge herself to find her best possible situation.

Lesson 5. Represent yourself well and authentically
How you define yourself in this transition phase and what you communicate to others about your career transition intentions become critical skills to master at this time. Whether this is your verbal communication, your resume or your cover letter, you need to appear both professional AND authentic.

Lesson 6. Learn how to network effectively (even if you're an introvert)
Very few new career opportunities arise from job boards. Especially for the level of income and professionalism that physicians represent. The most likely and deeply satisfying opportunities come out of relationships and well-nurtured connections. With encouragement, my somewhat introverted client learned how to utilize tools such as LinkedIn to foster new relationships with networking. These ultimately proved crucial to her success.

Lesson 7. Give yourself adequate time
My client's journey will have taken approximately one year. Yours may take more, or less. Begin early.

Lesson 8. Commit courageously to doing ALL the work that this transition requires
There is much to do when moving from one career situation to another, especially for a major career shift. You may need to perform hours of Internet research, or reaching out to others. In my Physician Odyssey Program, I outline many steps that need to be completed. This client did them all, diligently and in a very timely manner.

Lesson 9. Follow through, even if you're not sure where it's heading
There were times when she was unclear as to the value of some of the steps. She was uncomfortable being persistent, but didn't let her "inner critic" rule the day.

Lesson 10. Don't give up!

She recently confessed that she was on the verge of giving up 9 months in the process. But she didn't.

We both look forward to celebrating her accomplishment when everything is finalized. And even if there is a hiccup, she feels confident she knows the steps to finding her ideal "starter" non-clinical career.

What about you?

Monday
Sep102012

Customer service that truly sparkles

I am irate. Infuriated. Enraged.

Having set aside a full work day (for the second time) to have new office cabinetry and a desk installed (I had to set aside an entire day because this company is unable tell me in advance what time to expect the installers), I have just learned that "someone dropped the ball and they can't come today"! I had also arranged for my computer guy and an ergonomics consultant to be here - so THREE schedules have been impacted by this rotten service. 

I was about to spend several thousand dollars. So why do they apparently not care about making me happy?

The bigger question is: Why is it apparently so difficult to deliver good customer service?

I suspect it begins with not even having a definition of good customer service in the first place. Since this is an intangible, let's define it together - I'll go first and I am going to aim high -- for excellence!!

Excellent customer service is: 

  • Customer-centric. The company or business runs its business by accommodating customers' preferences and is NOT driven merely by its internal scheduling convenience
  • Reliable.  It does what it promised it will do. 
  • Friendly. It has a good attitude, even when there are hiccups.
  • Helpful. It goes beyond simply reacting and offers useful guidance and suggestions.
  • Responsive. You can get hold of the company when necessary.
  • Anticipatory. It has the imagination to anticipate problems and forestall them OR to anticipate customer anger and address it appropriately, and humbly!
  • Responsible. It owns its mistakes and doesn't try to land blame on "someone else in the system".
  • Ready to make right. An apology isn't enough. I need to hear not only the "I'm so sorry" but also the "let me see how I can remedy this situation as a way of apologizing for this inconvenience".
  • Process-improvement oriented. It immediately sets about determining why the ball was dropped and what aspects of the operation can be improved to prevent it from happening again.

Now, think about your medical practice or business? How would you stack up?

Here is a Customer Service That Sparkles Checklist for your next brainstorming session, so that you can address each of the "touchpoints" in your medical practice or physician business -- and deliver sterling customer service that sets you apart from your competition. 

Needless to say, I shall be writing a strongly-worded angry review on the web, cautioning potential customers to stay away from doing business with this company. I'm THAT angry! I hope, with attention in the right places, you'll avoid this outcome for your medical practice or physician business!

What is your idea of great customer or patient service? 

Friday
Sep072012

Back-to-business model and plan basics for entrepreneurial physicians

Wow, I guess I really did take the summer off from blogging. I didn't realize it had been a good two months since I last wrote. I was, however, prompted to put my thoughts together when I received an email responding to my "What is the biggest question you are struggling with at present?" inquiry. The physician wrote "my biggest challenge is narrowing down what I would like to do and creating an economic model to support my endeavors"

Great observation! And a challenge that I suspect many would-be entrepreneurial physicians face when filled with the urge to start a business.

While the question was too big for me to answer in one email, I found it encouraging that this person was even thinking about addressing steps that so many physicians and wannabe entrepreneurs fail to examine and optimize:

  • having a viable business model
  • then creating a business plan, however simple, to address the needs of a start-up business.

A long time ago, I wrote an article on what constitutes a basic business model. In short, you need to identify your:

a. Sources of revenue - what are all the sources of income for your business? Fees, sales of products, rental income etc.?
b. Cost drivers - identify your fixed and variable costs
c. Sources of capital for start up - money you put into your start-up, investment income etc.
d. Critical success factors - those items you would ideally monitor on a "dashboard" that indicted the health of your business
e. Risk factors - those factors internal to and external to the business that you need to be aware of and to mitigate.

 

By balancing all these factors in a way that makes coherent sense, you have yourself the beginnings of a viable business model!

Once you have your business model, then it's time to flesh it out in a business plan. Back of a napkin, on a scrap of paper, confining it to one page (a la One Page Business Plan) or using a high-priced software tool – the options are wide and the methodology less important than the thought that went into it!

My next articles will focus on (1) how to narrow down your ideas and (2) what I mean by a business plan.

Until then, I'm happy to back in the Land Of Blog!

Friday
Jul202012

Medical practice marketing: 5 simple tactics to get you started

Please don't cringe when I mention the words "medical practice marketing". Please stop for a moment and read my words below.

I hope to pleasantly surprise you with the realization that what I am about to describe is not used-car salesman tricks. Far from it! No ... I'm asking you to be yourself, show up in a way that you hope anyone you were buying from would show up, and do that exceptionally well!! 

Marketing isn't Selling. You are not going to push any creams or vitamins or extra procedures on any unsuspecting patient.

Medical practice marketing is, to paraphrase Wikipedia:

... the process by which your practice create value for your customers (patients, referrers) and builds strong relationships, in order to capture value from customers in return.
Marketing is used to identify, satisfy and keep the customer. With the customer as the focus of its activities, the marketing concept holds that achieving your practice's goals depends on knowing the needs and wants of your target markets and delivering the desired satisfactions. It proposes that in order to satisfy its objectives, a practice should anticipate the needs and wants of consumers and satisfy these more effectively than competitors.

The only things you need to pay attention to in that definition are my highlighted words. 

It's all about patient's desires and the desires of other "customers" such as your referring doctors.

With this in mind, here are my five no-brainer strategies to get you started:

1. Decide what your practice's promise is that you intend to deliver on
Do you want to have a generic practice just like all the others around you, where chaos reigns, the waiting room is full of irritated patients and the staff grumbles its way through the day because "it's a job"?
Or do you intend to plan to create intentionally and consistently a positive experience for your patients ... and your staff? Your practice's promise is part of its Brand -- what it becomes known for.

2. Be on time!!!
This action alone is a winning strategy -- it shows respect for the value of your patients' time, and makes for a much less stressful day for you and your staff. To get there, you may have to fiddle with your scheduling until you find the right mix of slots for walk-ins, add-ons, urgent referrals and scheduled appointments.

3. Insist that your staff greets people by name, smiles and makes eye contact.
Hire the right staff and then train them how to interact with patients, being friendly and outgoing, while respecting patient confidentiality. Remember - you will have to show up likewise. 

4. Ask your patients what their pet peeves and likes are. 
Find out what patients do and don't like about your practice. Use a simple anonymous survey (you can use a paper form, or an on-line tool like surveymonkey). Be willing to act on the information you gather.

5. Manage your physical space
How often do you go into your waiting room after hours and just sit there, observing, experiencing it, wondering how patients feel in it?
This little tactic will quickly reveal shabbiness, out-of-date magazines, faded prints on the wall, scuffed carpeting ... all those little "uglinesses" that leave a negative impression in the minds of the people who had to sit there for a while.
What about your exam rooms? How fresh do the walls and counters look?
And your office? Are there piles of charts and X-rays littering the surfaces? 
A clean, uncluttered physical space creates a sense of calm, for everyone.

I encourage you to take these 5 relatively simple actions right away, to begin creating an uplifting experience for your patients ... one that invites them back and encourages them to spread the word. 

By attending to these details, you may never have to give away another penny of your hard-earned money to slick marketers!