Charlie Munger who is one of the richest men in the world stated that success in business is determined by what you AVOIDED doing. His argument was that many businesses fail because of the dumb decisions made by the business owners rather than by the good decisions they made. I totally agree and I want to break this down and make it applicable to the nurse practitioner entrepreneur world.
For a business to be successful, you must have an idea and a target audience to sell that idea to. That is essentially it. Business is very simple when you look at this way, but many of us over complicate it unnecessarily (especially nursing professionals!). This is it in a nutshell:
Chose a target demographic to sell the service to and deliver amazing customer service.
Manage your money appropriately.
And you should have a successful business.
That is really it… but of course we are in healthcare and with it comes regulatory and liability considerations to complicate everything, but still, as long as you use common sense that shouldn’t be much of an issue. Some fields are more complicated than others, but at the end of the day business should be simple:
Focus on becoming an expert within the field you choose and ensure you are always marketing your services to a specific demographic. If you focus on these 2 items, then your business should be successful.
Problems arise when you start doing dumb shit in your business… to put it frankly. Problems happen when you start focusing on nonsense that doesn’t matter. When you begin putting too many eggs in your basket. When you begin to build too many bridges at one time within your business. Essentially, when you move your focus away from your specialized service and the people you are selling it to, then problems arise. It is almost guaranteed.
Let’s go over a few examples of common mistakes nurse practitioner business owners make and how they can ultimately RUIN your chances for success:
Business debt: There is good debt and there is bad debt. Good debt is debt that can be leveraged appropriately to generate cash flow. Bad debt is debt that ends up resulting in a financial LIABILITY (it generates nothing for you other than payments). If you take on business debt, then you better ensure you use it appropriately to GROW your business, not buy a bunch of nonsense that doesn’t matter like a $20,000 build out of your office, five figure pieces of equipment, fancy furniture, and so forth. These high-ticket items should come once you know your business is on an upward trajectory.
If you go into too much debt from the start, then your business will be in the RED until you pay that back. The problem arises when business becomes slow, and you default on your debt payments. Now you can be in real trouble. You could ruin your financial life. But guess what? This problem could easily be AVOIDED by simply not taking out business debt. You can start any niche practice for less than $10,000. If you cannot save up $10,000 as a registered nurse or nurse practitioner, then you shouldn’t be starting a business… You are financially irresponsible. You really should get your personal finances in order first before you start a business. Personal financial health carries over into business financial health…
Taking on too many projects at one time: This is a COMMON problem amongst nursing practitioner entrepreneurs. Hell, I even fall victim to this. A very bad disease can strike any entrepreneur at any time, and I like to call this Shiny Object Syndrome. This is where you just fall in LOVE with every idea that comes your way. You want to do EVERYTHING because it sounds so much fun and you will be so successful doing it. This is a false positive emotion that can strike you at any time. If you succumb to Shiny Object Syndrome, then your business will begin to decline in its success.
Let’s say you own a profitable men’s health practice that has been open for 6 months and it is still growing rapidly. Let’s say you decide you are now going to open up a high-end aesthetics and IV infusion clinic because you are unstoppable, and this sounds FUN! Guess what? You haven’t even finished building your first bridge yet! You MUST finish that one first or Shiny Object Syndrome could lead to that first practices demise. I am all for multiple businesses, but you should space them out so each one is practically finished first before you move onto another one. Keep this in mind as you go through your entrepreneurial journey. Sometimes it is best to AVOID a new business idea. Sometimes it is best to FOCUS on what you have in front of you first!
Partnerships: Many businesses have failed because of partnerships. I personally think they should be avoided unless you trust this individual explicitly. When you have two chiefs in a business, then different personalities and ideas can clash. This often can lead to the business’s ultimate failure. If you already have a business that is doing okay and someone comes in wanting to partner with you, then you should AVOID this unless they are bringing SUBSTATIONAL value to the business.
Too good to be true propositions: If some shark approaches your business with some fantastic idea that is going to make you RICH, then run the other way! Seriously, I have personally spoke to multiple nurse practitioners who have got royally screwed because of some shark. I have talked with other business owners who have literally thrown away $100,000 because they thought this new service/product/partnership was going to pay off big time. Do you know what a REAL investment opportunity looks like? One that results in a 10-20% return. That is realistic, not something that will double or quadruple your money. So, AVOID too good to be true propositions in your business. Seriously…
Essentially folks, you need to avoid most things in your practice that don’t benefit:
- The complimentary service lines that you offer and are an EXPERT at (I am all for a wellness practice offering multiple services such as HRT, IV infusion, weight loss, etc… but don’t offer services that take you away from your CORE.).
- Your target demographic.
- Delivering excellent customer service.
- Your regulatory and legal obligations.
Outside of the above, think of the NEGATIVE outcomes that can occur in your business from the action you are about to take. Often times by simply making a list of the negative events that could occur from a particular action, you can see that it is best to AVOID that action and instead FOCUS on what you already have. I couldn’t tell you how many NIGHTMARES I have avoided by simply avoiding a particular action in my business. Pick your battles wisely. Keep this in mind if you want to build a successful practice!