By Dr. Peter Kim of Passive Income MD, WCI Network Partner
As a part of our community, you may already be familiar with my love for sharing these inspiring stories of physicians who have made the transition from medicine to entrepreneurship. These individuals have encountered various challenges, in their personal or professional lives, and have approached them with unparalleled passion and creativity. Through their tenacity and problem-solving mindset, they were able to establish successful businesses that addressed critical issues within the healthcare industry.
Perhaps you've heard about pediatricians, anesthesiologists, or radiologists who recognized specific problems within their fields and took it upon themselves to develop groundbreaking solutions. These solutions range from inventive medical devices to consumer products, applications, and more. By channeling their passion for medicine into entrepreneurial endeavors, they have achieved remarkable outcomes.
While these stories can be awe-inspiring, you may find yourself thinking, “How could I ever do something like that? It seems out of reach for me.” It's essential to recognize that the path to success isn't always apparent when we only see the end results. We may overlook the hurdles and the transformative process that these physician-entrepreneurs undertook.
The truth is that transitioning from medicine to entrepreneurship requires a fundamental shift in mindset, and it is a journey that unfolds gradually.
In this article, we will explore four key strategies that can guide you through this transition, equipping you with the necessary tools to excel as an entrepreneurial innovator. Each strategy can serve as a stepping stone toward embracing the world of entrepreneurship, allowing you to navigate the challenges and seize new opportunities.
Identify What Drives You Toward Entrepreneurship
To embark on the journey of entrepreneurship as a physician, it is crucial to first identify the driving force behind this career addition, transition, or shift.
What is the underlying force propelling you to explore entrepreneurship alongside medicine? Is it the yearning for financial freedom and the flexibility it brings? Do you dream of living in another country for a few months and crave the freedom to do so? Does your current job not live up to your expectations, and now you desire the flexibility to spend more quality time with your family?
Is there a deep-seated desire to make a more significant impact beyond the one-on-one patient care you currently provide? Do you have a vision to create a global or community-wide effect that goes beyond the boundaries of your current practice? Do you have a passion for inventing or developing new products, but the rigorous demands of your medical career prevented you from exploring those avenues fully? Have you found the constraints of the medical track limit your time, energy, and opportunities to bring your big ideas to fruition?
These are a few of the questions that I struggled with for years. Here is a short-form story of my transition into entrepreneurship . . .
Desire for Financial Freedom and Flexibility
From early on, I found myself drawn to the idea of financial freedom and flexibility. While I loved practicing medicine, I recognized that relying solely on it for income limited my financial independence and career options. I craved the ability to have more control over my financial future and the flexibility to spend time with my family or pursue other interests. Entrepreneurship became a means to achieve these goals, allowing me to create multiple income streams and design a lifestyle that aligned with my aspirations.
Aspirations for Making a Greater Impact
Treating patients one-on-one was incredibly fulfilling, but I yearned to make a more significant impact. I wanted to extend my reach beyond the confines of my local community and impact a larger population. Through entrepreneurship, I discovered the opportunity to create innovative solutions that could positively influence healthcare on a broader scale. It was the chance to combine my medical expertise with business acumen to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and healthcare professionals.
Urge to Create Something New
Since childhood, I've had an innate desire to create and innovate. Whether it was selling golf balls I found in the woods when I was a kid or later developing a college coupon book, I derived joy from transforming ideas into tangible products or services. However, the demands of a medical career left me with limited time and energy to explore my entrepreneurial inclinations fully. It wasn't until later, as I matured in medicine, that I recognized the need to pursue these passions. Entrepreneurship became a channel for me to bring forth new ideas, develop products, and contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Need for Additional Streams of Income and Career Independence
A pivotal moment in my journey was when I realized that relying solely on medicine made me vulnerable to external factors beyond my control. I desired the independence to make choices on my terms and have a safety net that would provide financial security regardless of the fluctuations in the healthcare industry. By creating other income streams through wise investments and entrepreneurial ventures, I established a hedge against any unforeseen circumstances, allowing me to chart my own professional course and embrace a career with diverse opportunities.
Identifying What Drives You Will Aid You in the Transition to Entrepreneurship
As a physician-entrepreneur, understanding what drives you toward entrepreneurship is the foundation of your success. Reflecting on my personal journey, I discovered that a combination of financial freedom, the desire for a greater impact, the urge to create, and the need for career independence were the driving forces behind my pursuit of entrepreneurship.
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Build a Network Around You
The second crucial step on your journey from physician to entrepreneurial innovator is building a network of like-minded individuals. As the saying goes, “Your network is your net worth,” and this holds true when venturing into entrepreneurship. By surrounding yourself with individuals who share your entrepreneurial spirit, you open yourself up to a world of opportunities and connections that can propel your business forward.
Networking is not just about attending events or collecting business cards; it's about creating genuine connections and putting your intentions out into the universe. By expressing what you're looking to achieve or the type of business you want to create, you allow others to latch onto your vision. These connections will remember your aspirations and actively seek ways to support and connect with you in the future. It's a powerful concept—what you put out there often comes back to you in unexpected and beneficial ways.
To expand your network and tap into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, consider the following steps:
Engage with Like-Minded Entrepreneurs
Engaging with individuals who think similarly will broaden your mindset and expose you to diverse perspectives and experiences. Attend conferences and events that focus on entrepreneurship, such as PIMDCON or WCICON, where you'll find dedicated tracks and sessions designed to foster networking and learning.
Cultivate Relationships with Mentors
Their guidance and mentorship can accelerate your learning curve and help you navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Seek out mentors who have successfully transitioned from medicine to entrepreneurship or have expertise in your desired field.
Seek Out Like-Minded Communities
Join online communities, forums, or mastermind groups where you can connect with other aspiring and established physician-entrepreneurs. Communities can provide a supportive environment where you can exchange ideas, ask questions, and learn from one another's experiences.
Join our Passive Income Docs Facebook Community where you can connect with like-minded physicians who are pursuing passive income through real estate and entrepreneurship.
Remember, it's not just about figuring out what you want to do; it's equally important to determine who you want to surround yourself with. By recognizing the power of community and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who share your entrepreneurial drive, that will accelerate your progress, provide support, and open doors to valuable opportunities.
Embracing New Skills and Expanding Your Physician-Entrepreneur Expertise
Another crucial aspect of the mindset transition toward entrepreneurship is the ability to embrace new skills. As physicians, we have been continuous learners throughout our medical training, acquiring a multitude of procedures and techniques over the years. However, we often forget that we are capable of developing skill sets beyond those required solely as physicians.
This transition into entrepreneurship may involve acquiring skills, such as marketing, finance, business development, communication, and sales.
The Ability to Adapt
As ambitious and resourceful individuals, we possess the inherent ability to learn and adapt. Recognizing the importance of learning new skills is vital to the life of an entrepreneur, requiring a mindset shift that encourages us to pursue knowledge through various means such as taking courses, reading books, seeking mentorship, and engaging in mastermind groups.
Develop New Skill Sets
When speaking with physicians who have embarked on entrepreneurial ventures, whether in the form of services or online applications, many have realized the need to acquire entirely new skill sets to thrive in their chosen field. For example, they might delve into the realm of marketing, which initially might seem daunting and unfamiliar. However, as they embrace the challenge and take the first steps toward learning, they discover the excitement and fulfillment that come with acquiring new skills.
Consider Yourself Always a Student
Taking on new challenges and learning new things is undoubtedly appealing. By viewing learning as an opportunity to expand our horizons, we can embrace new skills that will carry us.
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Establish an Entrepreneur Identity
Lastly, a fundamental part of the mindset transition toward entrepreneurship is cultivating an entrepreneur identity. It may initially feel unusual for many of us who primarily identify ourselves as doctors to think of ourselves as business professionals or entrepreneurs. When someone asks us, “What do you do?” our immediate response is often, “I am a doctor” or we specify our medical field, such as an anesthesiologist.
However, it's important to recognize that we encompass multiple identities beyond our medical profession.
Your Identity Is Multifaceted
As doctors, so much of our self-worth and societal expectations are tied to our medical identity. But it's crucial to realize that we have the capacity to take on various other roles and identities. We can be exceptional entrepreneurs, devoted spouses, caring parents, and so much more.
By diversifying our identity and being comfortable with the multitude of roles we can assume, we unlock a world of possibilities and gain the confidence to explore new endeavors.
You Are Not Just a Physician
Embracing these additional identities and acknowledging that there is more to us than just being doctors is a powerful mindset shift. It allows us to approach entrepreneurship with confidence and enthusiasm without the fear of losing our medical identity. We begin to appreciate the immense diversification within ourselves and recognize the value we bring to each facet of our lives.
Establishing Your Entrepreneurial Identity
As we establish our entrepreneur identity, we start to see ourselves as individuals capable of creating innovative solutions, navigating the business world, and making a meaningful impact beyond the realm of medicine. This newfound identity empowers us to embrace entrepreneurship fully and leverage our unique blend of skills, knowledge, and experiences.
Remember, transitioning from a doctor to an entrepreneurial innovator does not diminish our medical expertise or the important role we play in healthcare. Instead, it adds a new dimension to our professional journey—one that allows us to expand our horizons, pursue our passions, and create even greater value for ourselves and others.
The Bottom Line
Cultivating the right mindset is crucial for long-term success. It enables you to adapt your attitude, behavior, and approach to overcome the challenges you will inevitably face in your entrepreneurial journey. With the right mindset, you can continually grow, evolve, and thrive in your business ventures.
The possibilities that lie ahead are vast, and it is up to you to seize them. Here's to your success as a physician-entrepreneur. Go forth, embrace the challenges, and create a lasting impact in both the medical and entrepreneurial realms.
If you've become an entrepreneur, what kind of mind shift did you have to make? Was it difficult or easier than you thought? What else should people who are interested in entrepreneurship be thinking about? Comment below!