You’re like me. Hopefully just a better version 😉
You’ve got passion. You think different. You’re willing to work hard. And you’ve got some level of frustration with life around you. Something’s not quite good enough yet, and your business idea might just fix it. At least that’s the plan.
I love you already. And for what it’s worth, I’m here to help you.
I don’t have all the answers – in fact I strive (successfully) to have more questions than answers. But…I’ve been around the block. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve found success and failure, and I’ve been blessed by both.
2017 marks my 10th year as president of Vantage, a company I started over coffee in a shop that no longer exists (fast forward to business tip #1: outlast the coffee shop!).
I’ll share with you a bit about Vantage, and then we’ll get to the meat.
In the past 10 years, I’ve created something I love. Dearly. I love it enough to fight with it. And enough to say some things under my breath that I dare not repeat. But when you’re creating something amazing, it’s gonna happen.
Most importantly, I’ve created an amazing team that through no other vehicle would have found themselves together under one roof. They are my work family, and most days I see them more than my own.
Our team serves physical therapists in nearly all 50 states, and the relationships I’ve created with others across the country is beyond anything I could have imagined when I decided to embark on a profession as a physical therapist.
We serve the physical therapy profession through three brands: VantageRCM™, a comprehensive revenue cycle management solution; BuildPT™, purveyor of the finest available digital and content marketing for physical therapists; and PT Pub Night®, the coolest thing in physical therapy since…physical therapy. (I’m biased. Shoot me.)
And it’s been hard.
It’s been … a ride. And if you’re planning to start your own business, then you’ll be on one, too. So let’s make sure that’s right for you.
And that’s the purpose of this article: to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
I can’t share with you everything you need to know (I don’t know it all myself, remember?), but I can share with you a few things that I would liked to have known when I started out 10 years ago.
Consider these as prerequisites, of sorts. With all confidence, I can assure you this list is correct.
If one of these points causes an eyebrow to raise, pay attention. Safer waters are within reach, but they are in the other direction.
#1: You’ll need nerve.
A lot of it. Starting a business requires that you change course in a big way. It’s putting yourself out there to promote an idea. It’s reaching outside your comfort zone in many respects. It’s taking a chance armed with the knowledge that many in your shoes experience failure.
If you don’t have the nerve, get out now. You won’t stomach the risk. The heartache. The doubt.
Whether in times good or bad, you’ll be required to make moves that others around you won’t understand. You’ll need to reach for opportunity that’s just a wee bit out of reach. You’ll find yourself behind in the count (baseball reference), and you’ll still need to swing for the fences.
Because that’s the only way to win.
Nerve, tenacity, confidence, courage … whatever you call this prerequisite #1, it is required.
#2: You’ll need smarts.
Put simply, you can’t run a business if you’re a fool.
Wait, you say. You have plenty – if not just one gigantic – example(s) of doorknobs who are in business.
OK, let me clarify.
By smarts, I’m referring to your ability to think beyond what you already know. You have to be quick. Agile. Able to extrapolate and apply what you know (or just learned) to new situations. I’m not talking textbooks, I’m talking smarts.
As a physical therapist, you’re definitely smart – especially you young ones. But don’t get ahead of yourself. Challenge yourself to continually learn. Read books. Take classes. Exercise your business muscles by working with people who are smarter than you and who challenge your status quo.
Be smart enough to know that you know very little, and always will. Because if you’re not willing to redesign smart, look out There are sharks out there.
#3: You’ll need humility.
Looking back on the past 10 years, some of my then-most glorious days are my now-most scariest moments. Because these days were exactly when I was most prone to screwing things up royally. It’s where my planning fell most short. Where I lacked the most vision.
It’s easy to do. Getting cocky is a natural tendency. It feels good, and it’s natural to want to rest your ambition and drive at times. But to make it in business you need to constantly remind yourself that you’re always 90 days away from bankruptcy. Let that fact keep you sharp.
Staying humble, hungry for information, quick to remind yourself that you don’t have all the answers, is key to long term viability.
You’re going to be humbled one way or another. It might as well be on your terms.
#4: You’ll need help.
As physical therapists, we’ve sorta selected ourselves into a “helping” profession, so the concept isn’t necessarily foreign – but you still need to hear this loud and clear.
YOU WILL NOT SUCCEED ALONE. PERIOD.
You will need help if you want to grow, and you’ll need it when you need to stay afloat.
The cool thing about help is that it is literally everywhere, and it feels good to get it.
You can self-help by reading, researching stuff online, and by attending educational sessions and webinars. Good, but not good enough.
You’re going to need human help too. Lots of it. You’ll need eople who will support you emotionally – sometimes financially – and who just plain do stuff better than you and who know things you don’t.
It’s OK. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. By getting it you improve your odds, keep yourself humble, and you help the helper by providing them an opportunity to play a role in your dream come true.
#5: You’ll need perseverance.
A lot of what you’ll be doing as a business owner is simply trying to outlast your competition. Remember the coffee shop that birthed Vantage? No longer here. But others are.
Perseverance is all about endurance.
You’re in a marathon – one that will hopefully be around 10 years or more. A lot of competitors are going to come and go during that time.
Why? Because they didn’t persevere. They didn’t outlast the challenges that are guaranteed to happen. They lacked the energy and strength to continue when the going got tough.
If you’re not willing to keep on keeping on when you’re tired and frustrated, get out now. Your competition will outlast you.
In closing, your business is something you need to love. But like any relationship, it’s going to have its ups and downs, and the five prerequisites above hopefully help you to do a gut check before going all in.