Posted by Evgenia Galinskaya on 17 January, 2015
As a career advisor, I am regularly approached by doctors who are craving for changes in their personal and professional lives. Some of them are unfulfilled in the NHS and are considering alternative career possibilities. Others say they are OK practising medicine but would like a new challenge to bring a spark of excitement in their lives. Regardless of their individual circumstances and an apparent itch to change something in their lives and careers, most doctors are holding back from exploring the option of starting own business.
I have previously written on the subject of why doctors can make great entrepreneurs. If you are a doctor who has ever wondered what it might be like to run own business but have not taken action beyond the day-dreaming stage, you will be familiar with at least one of the following
7 stumbling blocks:
Fear of disappointing relatives and friends is surprisingly common amongst doctors. Many of my coaching clients, especially female medics, admit to performing best in the context of seeking recognition and a desire to please others. These doctors tell me that if anyone found out about their idea to start a business, they’d be reminded how lucky they are to be treating the sick and so they should get rid of crazy ideas incompatible with being a medical professional.
It is difficult to be true to yourself when you let other people decide what should be right for you. Trust your gut.
When considering anything new, many of us give in to the “what-if-it-doesn’t-work” gremlin. This powerful self-protection mechanism tends to create excuses why change isn’t right for you at this time. How about asking your gremlin “what if it does work out?”
Fear of failure is closely related to two traits common amongst the medical profession. Perfectionalism and risk aversion. When medics are thinking of starting a business, they should get comfortable with the fact that their first idea may not hit the jackpot. The second one may not either. The third one might be worth developing further. Entrepreneurs are prepared to share their work before it is completed to perfection and then use the feedback to refine and adjust. In business there is a saying: “Fail fast, succeed faster”.
Not knowing whether the new venture will bring fulfilment leaves many of us stuck in the “analysis paralysis” mode.
In clinical practice, we are making decisions based on incomplete information all the time. In the meantime, in your own life, time is ticking away. Waiting for the right conditions, the right moment, the right feelings, the right people, the right anything… it’s just waiting. Confronting the fear of leaving the “comfort zone” to explore an uncharted territory is the only way to grow. In the end of the day, if you don’t try, you will never know.
This fear can be crippling, especially if you have dependants and a mortgage. Starting a business or changing careers is often a long and slow process that requires careful planning. Some doctors who run their own businesses share HERE what they learnt about managing finances when starting out on their entrepreneurial journeys.
There are various mechanisms to take career breaks and return back to clinical practice. For those doctors who leave medicine without a plan to return but who subsequently realise they do want to return, it is usually possible to do so. It may feel like “hard work” to get back but it is not impossible (and at least you will have scratched the itch by trying something else before deciding that only medicine is “the thing” for you).
At one point or another we have all had thoughts like “I’m too young / too old for that”, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m just not like that”. Many doctors fear that a lack of an MBA or another business degree or qualification will make them underqualified to run a business. These are all “limiting beliefs” that are true only in our heads.
Theodore Katz MD reassures: “Someone who has successfully become a doctor has already demonstrated their skills, dedication, hard work, and desire to excel. An inventory of all those skills and qualities that enabled one to become a physician are no different than those that will make them successful in any new endeavour”.
Not knowing where to begin and (even more importantly) what you really want can turn initial curiosity and excitement into disappointment and lack of motivation.
Your first step should be exploring your motivations for wanting a change as well as learning about yourself (your talents, values, strengths, dreams and limiting beliefs). Most doctors who are successfully running businesses have said that they got to where they are by developing a clear vision and creating ‘road maps’ with the help of mentors, coaches and inspiring role models.
It is only a perception that there is not enough time or information to explore your options. When you want something badly, you will always find time and resources to get it. Make learning about business and entrepreneurship your second step.
For doctors who are considering (or are in the midst of) starting up your own business, Other Options for Doctors in collaboration with Medic Footprints and YEHS will be running a workshop on Saturday 21st February 2015 in central London, UK. We will share our experiences as doctors setting up own businesses, dispelling common myths and equipping you with invaluable knowledge and skills necessary to take first entrepreneurial steps. You can register your interest HERE.
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you go. They merely determine where you start.” (Nido Qubein)