The healthcare industry is huge and will only continue to get bigger in the next coming years. Nurses have a very valuable set of skills that can translate into a successful career as a nurse entrepreneur.
If you’ve been working the floor for a while and want to enjoy more freedom, then being a nurse entrepreneur could be a good option. You have to know some of the challenges that come with being one, however, as not everyone is built to run a successful business. You may also realize that you prefer the stability a regular nursing position provides and will have to ask yourself a few important questions before you start. Here’s how you can make the transition from nurse to nurse entrepreneur successfully.
Assess if You Have the Skills and Disposition to be an Entrepreneur
Transitioning from being a salaried employee to having to hunt for your food is something not everyone is prepared to do. Being an entrepreneur means that you’ll always be living with a sense of uncertainty. You’re the one who’ll have to market your business and may have to deal with failure after failure at the beginning. You have to be driven and resilient to survive in any business, and if you feel like you get easily discouraged in the face of adversity, then you might struggle as a nurse entrepreneur.
The main difference between being a worker and an entrepreneur is the element of risk. Not only is starting a business a risk, but you will have to take tons of other risks while running one. For example, you will be taking risks when choosing which suppliers you should work with or whether buying a brand new piece of equipment is worth it. You’ll be taking risks when bringing partners in or expanding to a new location. The ability to take calculated risks at the right time is what separates successful nurse entrepreneurs from the rest.
Moving from a worker position to an executive one is not something everyone is prepared for either. You might be a great team player and appreciated by your peers, but things become different when you have to manage people and give orders. Some people realize too late that they lack assertiveness or the leadership skills needed to give directions and make sure that people follow through. Some find out that they’re terrified of confrontation and scared to hold people accountable. This is something you will need to observe in your everyday life right now.
If you notice that you tend to shy away from conflict, then you’ll have a hard time as an entrepreneur. You’ll have to deal with people disagreeing and sometimes being hostile all the time, may it be employees, clients, or service providers. Some of your employees may get in your face from time to time if you point out something they did wrong. You will also have to put your foot down if they’re constantly ignoring procedures or show unacceptable behavior. If you’re too consilient or tend to avoid confrontation, you won’t be able to implement rules correctly and your business and employees will lack direction.
You also need to be a great communicator and judge of character to be a successful nurse entrepreneur. Being able to quickly identify people’s strengths and weaknesses will allow you to delegate better and know what you can expect from your employees.
Having a great sense of observation and attention to detail will also be very useful. This is what will allow you to identify when there’s trouble brewing quickly. You’ll also be able to tell who’s telling the truth if there’s a conflict between employees. Or you may notice when one or multiple of your employees are starting to get disengaged. These are all things that will allow you to run a tighter ship and get the best out of your team.
Be Ready for the Challenges that Come with Entrepreneurial Life
You also have to know that things are not all roses when you’re an entrepreneur, and even if you get to enjoy more freedom and possibly more money, you may have to make some sacrifices. Being a business owner is a 24/7 job, and you might not be able to enjoy some of the perks of a regular job like vacations and having weekends off. Being an entrepreneur is also very tough if you have a family to attend to, especially if you’re single.
If you have a family, you will need to look at how you’re managing your workload now. If you’re barely making it, then becoming an entrepreneur now would be a bad idea. The only solution here would be to partner with someone who would handle most of the administrative load. But you might also have to give up majority control over your business, which is not something everyone is willing to do.
Another challenge of being an entrepreneur is that you’ll have to handle taxes yourself. It’s very easy to get in trouble with the IRS in a highly regulated industry like healthcare, and if you don’t stay on top of your taxes and new rules, they might come knocking on your door when you least expect it. Being on your own also means that you will have to plan for retirement yourself. You will need to start looking at things like IRAs to see which retirement plans would work the best for you.
One more thing you’ll have to get ready for is lawsuits. Lawsuits can be serious enough to ruin your business, and you’ll need to hire a business lawyer before you do anything. You could get sued by someone who claims that your advice ended in injury, but also for seemingly minor things like using a copyrighted picture on your website. So, make sure that you know about all the sides of being a business owner and surround yourself with the right people.
Look at Nurse Business Ideas
Once you’ve identified that you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, you need to start looking at options. The most common choice for nurse entrepreneurs is starting a practice, and if you feel like this is something you could do, this can be a very fulfilling and lucrative career path.
You can decide to go for either a general or specialized practice. Going for a specialized practice could allow you to fill needs in specific markets and stand apart. One of the fields to open a clinic right now is family nursing. But you first need to have a genuine passion for the field and know what the work of a family nurse practitioner entails.
If you want to learn more about what the job of a family nurse practitioner is like, we suggest you check this page from Marymount University. It explores the laws governing the family nurse practitioner scope of practice and in which states nurses are allowed to run their clinics. You’ll also get to see outlook numbers if you decide to continue your career as a nurse instead of as an entrepreneur.
If you feel like running a clinic is too much for you, there are tons of options that would be less work extensive. Many of them could be started from home. If you’re more of an introvert and don’t want to manage a big team, you can always start working as a nurse blogger. If you like sales, then you could work as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company.
If you don’t mind the challenge, however, know that you can go bigger as well. You could get into manufacturing, for instance, and manufacture medical equipment and supplies. The field offers so many different opportunities, so look at as many options as possible and find those that fit your skills and disposition the best.
Speak with Other Nurses Who Became Entrepreneurs
It would also be nice to speak with nurses who started businesses in the field you’re interested in. This will give you more information on what it’s truly like to run a business and some of the challenges that come with it. Organizations like the NNBA will allow you to connect with nurse entrepreneurs from all over the country. They could even help you find someone who will be willing to mentor you through your journey. Having someone looking over your shoulder who’s already been there and done that can be a very valuable asset to have. They will be able to see possible issues before they come up and allow you to learn from their mistakes. They could also be able to tell you if being a nurse entrepreneur is something you should pursue in your situation.
Start with a Side Business
You should also start small to see if you like the idea of being an entrepreneur. Starting a side business is a great way to tell if you can handle the administrative side. It’s always better to have a safety net. Not having a plan B to fall back on can cause additional stress, which can be counter-productive.
Start a side-hustle that is close to what you want to do. If you want to start a clinic, for instance, then you could start by providing some home care service first. If you’re struggling with logistics or respecting engagements, then this is a clear sign that you might have trouble running a full-size business. This will also allow you to learn through trial and error.
If you decide to jump in head first, however, you have to make sure that you have a solid nest egg. We would suggest that you have at least six months of living expenses saved up before you start so you’ll be able to get back on your feet in case anything happens.
Get a Business Education
You should also consider getting some sort of business education before you get started. You don’t need to get a business degree, but you still need to have some sort of business background if you want to run your business efficiently.
If you decide to run a business with many moving parts and employees, you’ll need to know how to manage human resources properly. This is not something you can learn on the fly. You will need to learn how to recruit, screen, onboard, and train employees. You will also need to learn how to build a company culture and what can build or destroy a team’s morale.
Another area where having a business education will help is when trying to gauge certain markets. Being able to understand and perform market analysis will allow you to avoid some of the major mistakes nurse entrepreneurs make when they start. You’ll be able to tell if a certain niche is profitable, or to determine the level of competition in that niche. You’ll also be able to assess the needs of a market or choose the best location for a clinic. These are all things that will significantly increase your chances of success.
Don’t Burn Bridges with Your Current Employer
You should also be careful to leave on good terms with your current employer. They may actually be one of your greatest allies depending on what field you decide to enter. You also never know what might happen in the future, and knowing that you have somewhere to go back to will be reassuring.
Your current place of work can also be a great place to start recruiting or finding partners. If you click with some of the other nurses on the floor and you feel like they could be great assets, maybe you should run your ideas by them. Working with a partner can make things easier for you and allow you to share risks and expenses. You could also benefit from their expertise if they are skilled in areas where you might be lacking.
This is all you need to know if you want to make a successful transition from nurse to nurse entrepreneur. It’s not for everybody, but if you feel like you have what it takes to make it, this could be a great second chapter to your career.