It’s been a common occurrence in recent years: company downsizing or restructuring has left skilled professionals looking for a job. Or, feeling constrained, they jump to a better growth opportunity.
But, with the era of lifetime jobs at a single firm or company long gone, many doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals are opting to work for themselves, becoming entrepreneurs and launching their own startups.
Some who already started small practices have expanded into several locations. As orthodontists and business partners, we can attest that the learning curve of running and growing a business in multiple offices — while still practicing our profession — can be challenging, but also rewarding. It was never our plan to run a practice, or even co-run one. But then the financial crisis of 2008 happened, and a lot of the opportunities that had been available before were now gone. But we were able to flip those circumstances on their heads and use them to our advantage.
The biggest challenge initially was finding clients. But we learned to use different resources and educate ourselves in the business side as we did in our chosen career.
Here are five tips for professionals transitioning to running their own business:
• Be passionate. Entrepreneurs tend to be extremely passionate about their work. They need to incorporate the same passion for running a business. Think about how running your own business could transform your career, send it soaring. That kind of spirit energizes you and all those around you.
• Be bothered by inefficiency. Entrepreneurs don’t have a high tolerance for inefficiency, and the bonus is they don’t have corporate red tape to cut through. You can fix problems that come up quickly because of your expertise and the freedom of not running into typical corporate obstacles. If you or your business partner are mired in work processes that are too slow, analyze the inefficiencies and consider the places you could implement solutions.
• Don’t be afraid to take on more risk. One thing that sets many entrepreneurs apart from the average professional is their appetite for risk. A business owner knows the risk-reward possibilities, and by taking well-calculated shots, bigger rewards can come. Set aside time to strategize, and listen to the best-qualified people working for you to develop a precise plan.
• Brainstorm more. Constant innovation is crucial to long-term success of a business, so entrepreneurs have to take time to let their minds be loose and creative. Set aside time each week for brainstorming sessions with your staff — and remember to have fun doing it.
• Don’t limit your dreams. The most important aspect of the entrepreneurial spirit is being limitless — the sky’s the limit. Many people are conditioned in the workforce to be realistic and practical, but dreaming big sets the mission for your company, and it’s why you became a business owner.
It can be daunting at first, performing the myriad tasks of a business owner, but if you believe in what you do and those you’ve hired around you, it’s so worth the effort.
Dr. Seth Newman and Dr. Efstathios (Steve) Giannoutsos are orthodontists and co-authors of “Giving It To You Straight: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Orthodontics But Were Afraid To Ask.” (www.asktheorthos.com).