How Doctors Can Learn Business Basics In 6 Hours

It was a Saturday morning and 30 medics at different stages of their careers, from medical students to retired GPs (and even a dentist!), gathered in central London for the “Introduction to Becoming an Enterprising Doctor” workshop. The event was organised by entrepreneurial physicians who wanted to provide a learning and networking platform for doctors considering alternative career paths in or out of medicine. The day was about learning and sharing how to set up own business.


Our attendees came from all over the UK and even Denmark. They had several goals:

1. Exploring options

Although most delegates described themselves as currently being in an “OK” clinical job, there was a recurrent theme of “feeling stuck in the system” and wondering if there is more to life than clinical practice and “ticking boxes”. For many doctors this was the first opportunity to make a shift from googling “alternative careers for doctors” alone to discovering options and possibilities in a safe environment with other likeminded medics.

Several attendees voiced their desire for new opportunities, new challenges, which they wanted to explore as a part of “a portfolio career”. Few wished to do this as a part of planning “an escape from the NHS”. Some felt strongly that they wanted to leverage their existing medical expertise to do “something different” in the medical field, while others wanted to identify transferrable skills that they could use to build a non-medical career or business.

2. Exploring startup & business opportunities

There was a hunger for sharing the “outside the box” thinking. The room was full of innovation-driven medics who were looking to set up a business and to make a difference on a bigger scale while doing so on own terms. In the same room, there were also doctors who have already succeeded in this and were passionate about supporting the budding entrepreneurial talent.

Many doctors felt strongly about challenging the status quo and unlearning unhelpful beliefs acquired in medical school: fear of failure, stigma around alternative careers, a ‘must-have’ linear career path, and a lack of encouragement to pursue “something different”. Most attendees voiced their desire for greater autonomy, flexibility, and finding an outlet for creativity. They were eager to hear the stories, practical tips and advice from successful entrepreneurial doctors who defied the status quo in the pursuit of life’s fulfilment and happiness.

3. Looking for direction, guidance and practical advice

Several doctors expressed disappointment that they know what they don’t want, but they are less sure of what they do want. Some said they didn’t know how to find their passion, what to do next and what practical skills are needed to move forward. Many of our attendees were at a life or career crossroads. While some had many ideas, others had none and felt very stuck. Most people found it difficult to motivate themselves to make a start because of fear of uncertainty, fear of stepping outside of comfort zone and not knowing “how”.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” ~Mark Twain

4. Self-exploration

There was a theme of wanting to do something about “unrealised potential”, with many delegates describing a feeling that they “still had so much more to give”. Several doctors voiced concern about impending burnout and wanted to take a proactive approach to steer their career towards opportunities that would allow better balance, self-care and more time to do the things they love.

“The grass is greener where you water it.” ~Neil Barringham

5. Networking

Most delegates viewed the workshop as an opportunity to meet and connect with other doctors who have similar interests, challenges and an outlook on life. They wanted to inspire and be inspired and to be a part of an exciting community of likeminded people.

What doctors learnt

Dr Charlie Easmon talked about entrepreneurial myths and shared his lessons of entrepreneurial failure and success.

In his fast-paced and engaging talk, Prof Mark Whiteley explained what it means to be an owner of a private clinic, as well as the associated benefits and challenges. Dr Amanda Penny spoke about her journey from being an anaesthetist to becoming a pastry chef who now creates high-end bespoke cakes and teaches cake decorating classes.

I taught the group about factors that contribute to career dissatisfaction and mentioned the blocks doctors have when it comes to exploring alternatives. I also shared my top secret for successful career development. I warned guests and delegates about the dangers of finding themselves in unfulfilling roles if they do not get to know themselves first. There was a great buzz when the attendees were invited to do a hands-on exercise to uncover their work values – their first practical step towards creating a fulfilling career or business.

Together with Dr Abeyna Jones, I shared tips for creating successful personal and business brands. We highlighted how social media and smart networking can take your career and business to the next level. The delegates also learnt about the practicalities of starting a business in the UK, how to ensure cash flow and to optimise tax.

There were opportunities for informal as well as structured networking. While the former enabled lively interaction between the delegates, the facilitated “mastermind” session encouraged guests to share their career or business challenges within small groups while relying on the crowdsourcing of ideas and solutions from peers.

What doctors thought

We were humbled to receive fantastic feedback and to hear the delegates describe the event as “informative, “inclusive” and “very inspirational”. Many commented on how much they enjoyed being a part of a supportive community of likeminded medics and sharing their career dreams, business ideas, useful knowledge and relevant resources with each other. One doctor said “it was an empowering experience for me to see doctors in the same position as me trying out different things and being happy”.

I want to congratulate all those who attended for taking the first step to create greater clarity and focus in their life and career. As Zig Zagler said: You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great.

Networking opportunities were highly valued by the doctors, and we are looking to organise further events for medics to facilitate this on a regular basis. In the meantime, you can download a “Networking for medics” mini-guide HERE. In this mini-guide, you will find some ideas and tips for building a network of meaningful connections, which can further your career in medicine and beyond.

You are welcome to join Other Options for Doctors and ask questions, share your ideas and useful resources, challenges and stories of career transition via Linkedin group, Facebook page, and Twitter (@options4doctors).

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