10 Ways to Strengthen your Strategy

A strategic plan is not just a document written by physicians and managers and then filed away for safekeeping. It is a vision for the practice, owned by the practice. For the practice to succeed, everyone must engage with and live and breathe the plan. Strategy should inform your operations, your structure, and how you go about practicing medicine. Your strategic plan should be the pillar against which you assess your priorities, your actions and performance. As such, it’s mission critical that your plan is comprehensive and up-to-date. Here are 10 questions to assess your strategic plan:

1. Will your strategy beat the market?

Each year, perform a thorough analysis to get a clear picture of how the competing practices’ forces in your specialty are likely to play out. To grow at an accelerated pace, you will need a meaningful point of difference that can’t be easily copied or nullified. Mindlessly copying another practice’s business model is not a strategy — it is a recipe for mediocrity. Do you really have a winning strategy?

2. Do you have a sustainable competitive advantage?

How will you make money in the future? Do you have a unique strategic position, a concept that you “own” in the minds of your target patients? Do you have special capabilities that can’t be easily copied? Remember that nothing lasts forever, so you need to focus on both today and tomorrow.

3. Are you focused on a clearly defined target market patient or referring physician?

Push for the narrowest possible segmentation of your target market. You need to aim for the bull’s eye to hit the target. Clearly defining and understanding your target market patient or referring physician is one of the most powerful things a physician practice can do to improve its strategy.

4. Does your strategy put you ahead of the trends?

Many strategies place too much weight on current trends. But as the founder of modern management Peter Drucker said, it is not the trends, but “the changes in the trends” that leaders must stay current with. These changes creep up so slowly that most practices fail to act until it is too late to mount an effective response, let alone take advantage of it. They are held back by sunk costs, an unwillingness to cannibalize a legacy business or an attachment to yesterday’s formula for success. Instead, you should always look to the edges. How are your patients shopping for healthcare? What are the innovative new entrant competitors doing? What innovations could change your entire specialty?

5. Does your data give you privileged insights?

It is easy to be overwhelmed with data. The key is to make sense of it all and obtain actionable insights. Do you really understand your patients? Your referring physicians? Your competition? Practices that go out of their way to experience the world from their patients’ perspective will develop better strategies. The same exercise in perspective applies to your referring physicians and competitors, too.

6. Does your strategy embrace uncertainty?

Prioritize all your current threats, things that could derail your strategy, as part of your annual SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Consider what action you would take if these worst-case scenarios came to fruition. Could you handle it? Do you have a contingency plan ready to implement?

7. Does your strategy require commitment and tradeoffs?

Hedging your bets is not a strategy. A full commitment to a defined course of action is the only path to a sustainable competitive advantage. This requires tradeoffs, as you can’t be all things to all people. Remember to consider what you are NOT going to do, and accept those self-imposed limitations to stay focused on long-term success.

8. Is your strategy contaminated by bias?

Confirmation bias refers to a tendency to cherry-pick information that confirms existing beliefs or ideas. The best way to avoid this is to ask an outside consultant to facilitate your strategy discussions. That individual has no emotional ties to your practice and will instead lead a rational discussion on your strategic plan’s viability.

9. Is your leadership team fully committed?

Many good strategies and change initiatives fail to be executed because of a lack of commitment among the owners and practice administrators. Just one or two non-believers can strangle a strategic change at birth. Sell leadership on the plan early on so they can help sell the mission to other employees.

10. Have you translated your strategy into a one- or two-page summary?

Capture your key decisions on a very short document so that everyone in the practice can clearly see where your practice is going, how you plan to get there and what specific actions they need to take to play their part.

Strategic planning provides a physician practice with a real and lasting competitive advantage when treated as a work in progress rather than as a binder on a shelf or a file in a computer. A living strategic plan will help direct the business to where you and your partners or advisers desire it to go. Spending time to invest in the future will result in a clear focus, a sense of joint purpose and agreed-upon priorities, consensus among stakeholders, and a basis for measuring progress and impact. Strategic planning is your practice’s road map to that shared vision. Are you ready to prepare a strategic plan?


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When Physicians Consider Succession Planning

You might feel a little uneasy about starting the discussion about selling your medical practice. Your practice is your baby, and the thought of letting go can be overwhelming. However, the truth is that failing to plan is a plan to fail when it comes to your practice exit strategy. Everyone thinks of their future, but they don’t always take active steps in the present to prepare for what they want tomorrow. But the time will come when you must step away. You need to have a plan to leave your practice — regardless of your age, experience, or long-term career goals — out of respect to your employees, in an effort to prioritize patient care, and to ensure your family’s well-being. Here are several reasons why you should start the succession planning conversation today.

You have increasing family obligations

Owners can run medical practices and have families. Depending on the size of your practice and the size of your family, balancing the two can be difficult. If obligations, such as an ill family member, or your children’s educational or extracurricular commitments are taking time away from your practice, you could experience a negative shift in the dynamic of your practice. If you don’t have a team in place that can run the practice without you for a few days, consider bringing in reinforcements. Bringing in a physician partner or strategic partners, such as a management services organization or private equity firm, can help free up time for your family while still allowing you to actively contribute to your practice’s growth. These types of partnerships don’t require you to immediately exit from your practice and allow you to discuss future end goals with your new partner(s).

You have personal health issues

Personal health issues are pulling you way from the practice. When your personal health is in decline, it can be difficult to continue business as usual. As the practice owner, you don’t need the undue stress caused by juggling an illness and the medical practice. Furthermore, your priorities might change if you find your health or the health of a loved one declining.

Your view on where your time needs to be spent might shift from a focus on growing your practice to your personal relationships. Spending time away from the practice may be best for you personally, but it will have a direct negative effect on your practice’s revenue and daily operations. This makes the goal of achieving maximum value more challenging. Therefore, having a succession plan is essential.

You don’t have a successor

You’re a great leader, and you run your practice like a well-oiled machine. But what happens when you’re gone? If you find your employed physicians aren’t interested in taking over, or if you don’t have any employed physicians, you need to know what you will do when it’s time to leave your practice.

You’re feeling burnt out

Running a practice takes a lot of tenacity. Burnout can creep in slowly and take hold in what feels like an instant. It’s important to balance your work life and home life, and that takes commitment and constant fine tuning. You need to set boundaries to make it effective. If you don’t have a good handle on taking time for yourself, and you are just barely keeping things afloat, exiting partially (such as by bringing on a physician partner, engaging private equity, or joining a management services group) might be a good option to help you reclaim time to yourself while still maintaining, and hopefully growing, your practice.

You aren’t doing what you love

You had an ambitious view of starting your own practice. You intended to bring outstanding patient care to a community. You were excited and ready to go. Everything starts strong and innovative ideas are flowing. Then, you hit a wall or find yourself working on administrative tasks. It’s time to take a step back and reflect on what you are doing what you would like to be doing, then see who can help pick up the slack.

You’re having growing problems

Your practice has grown a great deal, but now you’ve hit a plateau. You aren’t implementing new ideas and performing patient outreach like you used to. You don’t have time to research your competitors. You aren’t bringing new ideas to your practice because all your time is tied up in making sure the practice stays where it is and doesn’t fall behind. How can you continue to experience growth when you can barely keep up with your practice as it is? It might be time to consider bringing in a partner who can develop a synergistic platform to help take your practice to the next level.

We all know that anything can happen at any time. What will you do if something happens that requires you to step down from your practice sooner than anticipated? As a business owner who is responsible to your employees and patients, it’s important that you consider succession planning before it becomes necessary.

Remember, there are ways to plan so that you can continue doing what your love. Succession planning doesn’t necessarily mean leaving entirely, but it does mean being prepared for the future. Spend some time in thoughtful reflection about your goals, reality, and any changes that you wish to make. Bring your ideas and concerns to a financial adviser or other trusted expert who can help you find the work-life balance you need, both now and in the future.


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Managing Cultures During Physician Practice Mergers

There are many reasons why physician practices merge or acquire other practices: increased market share, gaining new capabilities, diversifying a product offering, and more. It’s also no secret that mergers and acquisitions sometimes don’t go as planned. The most common reason mergers and acquisitions fail: culture. A merger or acquisition may look perfect on paper, but it’s the people who ultimately guarantee its success — or failure.

In my experience, the largest contributor to merger and acquisition failure has to do not with the business but with the people. More specifically, how we handle (or fail to address) the cultural differences between organizations, which are exacerbated by a lack of effective communication. Leadership did account for the culture or anticipate a potential culture clash.

To ensure your merger or acquisition has the greatest chance of success, it’s critical to make your employees’ experience painless (or at least less painful). Consider what’s at risk during such a transition, how you communicate with employees, and how to support them. It’s especially important to focus on people and culture during an acquisition or merger. Be sure to communicate with employees, collect feedback to take targeted action for retention, and provide ongoing support.

Anticipate potential roadblocks

There are a few things at risk during a merger or acquisition: losing talented employees, disrupting the culture of your practice, and missing opportunities to communicate with newly-acquired employees.

To avoid having employees jump ship, speak with them, ideally before the deal closes. This will give you a better understanding of which parts of the business are at highest risk of turnover. The goal here is to reassure employees of job security and to thus reduce the risk of a mass exodus.

It’s inevitable that your physician practice culture will change after a merger or acquisition. There are three common ways to thoughtfully develop and shape a culture post-merger:

1.     Choose one business’ culture to be carried on,

2.     Create a new culture that combines the best from both physician practices, or

3.     Create a completely new culture.

Each path has its pros and cons. Whichever you choose, it’s important to communicate your decision, and your rationale, with employees. During times of transition, communication often becomes increasingly siloed to top-level decision makers, leaving the majority of employees in the dark. This disconnect causes rumors to spread and breeds distrust of leadership. Devise a communication plan before the deal is finalized and exercise it throughout the process.

Prepare employees

Concerns about job security are top of mind for employees. They want to know if their role will still be relevant, if their past successes going to be recognized, and how they will be accepted as members of the new team. Address their concerns and keep them updated on the process and timeline as much as possible.

Also communicate how and when benefits will transition, what their election options are, time off polices, how you conduct performance reviews, and when and how you review compensation,. Addressing employees’ basic needs is crucial to establishing a foundation of trust and building confidence in leadership.

Offering career path training pre- or post-merger is a great way to prepare and support employees. This way, even if there are layoffs or they opt to leave, they have an understanding of what their next step should be and where their strengths lie.

Once the acquisition is complete, it’s a good idea to conduct onboarding for acquired employees, same as you would for a new hire. This is a great way to make them feel integrated and welcomed as well as establish expectations. Is there an actual orientation process? Do they need to participate in any training or watch any videos? Is there written material for them to read on their own? Is there welcome swag? Treat them like members of the team, because they are. Remember, you don’t need to wait until things feel settled to collect feedback post-merger or acquisition. Soliciting employee feedback during times of transition will give you the data you need to take action, and ensure employees’ voices are heard both now and in the future.

 By adhering to these pointers, you raise the likelihood of immediate and long-term success for your merger or acquisition. You will also likely significantly reduce the inevitable anxiety that comes with such a significant effort. That’s a win/win for all involved!


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4 Steps to a Successful Integration Process

In order to be successful, a merger must be followed up with a detailed course of action. Here are several specific places where physician groups routinely stub their toes when merging. But, if you get them right, your success rate will soar.

  1. People

Mergers succeed or fail based on the quality and dedication of the people who execute them. Start with your leadership team. Determine the composition of the new management team as far ahead of time as possible. This helps mutually ensure physician owners that the integration process is beginning to unfold both smoothly and sensibly.  Then, identify those individuals (and occasionally teams) who are outside the leadership realm but still essential to retain. Develop specific strategies to keep them engaged during the transition.

Be proactive and make opportunities. If your strategic intent calls for headcount reductions, do not rely on “natural attrition.” That is just abdication in the name of kindheartedness. Similarly, even if reductions are not a big part of your plan, people expect them. Use the acquisition as a time to do a little constructive pruning if need be and consider the possibility of offering severance packages.

  1. Patients

Attention to patients should seem like a priority at all times, but it is particularly true during periods of change and uncertainty. Because mergers are times of great internally-focused thinking and activity, an outward focus on patients can suffer during this time. Competitors will seize any open opportunity to lure your patients away, and practice upheaval is one such door. They may spread misinformation and regale your key referring physicians with the dangers of your merger and the glory of their own practice. Do not let that happen.

Be proactive and convincing. Take the show on the road. All physicians must actively outreach and proactively engage referring physicians. Keep them in the loop with frequent communication. Walk them through what you are doing, if and how it will benefit them, and state clearly how they can get in contact with any questions or concerns throughout the process. In addition, provide physician liaisons clear language about what they can (and cannot) say to referring physician practices.

Keep referring physicians informed and make sure to spend time listening to their concerns. This might even be a good time to probe what they like and don’t like about your existing relationship or services you offer. If there is a weakness in their mind, it’s better to open that door proactively with an eye toward solving it in the integration/transition process than let a competitor open the door with an eye toward leveraging it.

  1. Culture

Culture is woven into the fabric of a workplace over time. That makes it difficult to see and even more difficult to change. The list of deals that have famously failed because of mismatched cultures is epic. The first, and perhaps most important, rule in dealing with culture during a post-merger integration is to compare the existing cultures and see how they will be combined. Do not downplay the culture as something that will work itself out. It won’t. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How are decisions made within your practice, unilaterally at the top or based on data and recommendations from employees? Are they made on the spot or only after thorough consideration?
  • Is senior management dictatorial or consultative? Is junior management jaded or motivated?
  • Is innovation a catchy tagline or a true religion? (Ditto collaboration.)
  • Is success seen as a team effort or the result of a few star performers?
  • Is the practice’s technology investment driven more by opportunity or obsolescence?

The second rule in merging cultures is to know thyself. It is not possible to integrate two cultures based on an understanding of only one of them. Culture assessment should begin way before staring down the path of a merger—and well before the demands of a deal set in.

  1. Communication

In medical practice mergers, good communication is by far the simplest and cheapest way of reducing uncertainty and stress—two of the biggest causes of dysfunctional deals. Good communication can:

  • ease or shorten the inevitable periods of reduced productivity;
  • build trust with stakeholders;
  • prevent the loss of key staff, patients, and valued referring physicians;
  • clarify objectives and unify focus;
  • ensure preparedness for expected changes; and
  • preempt or deflate competitive rumors and disinformation.

Start by being up-front and direct about the rationale behind the deal. Don’t assume that its logic and benefits are self-evident to employees or others. To the greatest extent possible, have clear and concise answers to the one question at the top of everyone’s mind:

“All that sounds fine, but how will the merger affect me?”

Here are some hints and guidelines for how to proceed with compassion and respect:

  • Do not be an information cheapskate. Be open and transparent. Share more than you are comfortable sharing.
  • Communicate the extent to which the practices will be integrated and how that will affect employees’ jobs, benefits, reporting lines, information flows, and culture. If integration issues or actions have yet to be decided, be clear about an expected timeline for when they will be.
  • Tailor your communications to different audiences. However, make sure all your messages are consistent by tying them back to the overall strategic intent of the deal.
  • If there is no news to report, report that there is no news.
  • Manage expectations and mood. Listen for concerns and questions, then address them straight on.
  • As responsibility for communication trickles down the hierarchy, be very clear about what people should say and not say. “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” is always a better option than just winging it.
  • Identify and engage staffers who can exert positive influence over others. Conversely, if there is a person or group who proves to be the source of recurring rumors or discontent, resolve their issue or get rid of them.
  • Do not hide or shy away from bad news. Identify problems as they occur and seek to rectify them.
  • Do what you say you will do. Nothing crushes morale and erodes productivity like a stream of empty promises.

The phases prior to a merger, e.g., strategic planning and due diligence, are indeed essential, but the integration that occurs post-merger is by far more important to the deal’s overall success—or failure.


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Getting Your Practice Back

As the owner of a physician practice, you work hard and sacrifice a great deal of time to make your business successful.  As the practice grows, so does your workload. You start on the front lines driving clinical treatments and referrals, then move to the back office supervising daily operational tasks, often obligatory, just to keep the practice afloat. You know you’re needed to keep the business running, but you want to make sure it continues to operate efficiently if you aren’t around. Here are four things you can do replace yourself in your practice and bring back some time to yourself:

Delegate Responsibilities

Responsibilities can really weigh you down as they become more detailed and more time consuming. When responsibilities start to detract from the things you love, it’s probably time to consider delegating some of those responsibilities. Being a successful leader means learning to prioritize your duties and assign those tasks to someone who you can trust to perform well.  Be aware that finding the right individuals to delegate responsibilities to can be time consuming. You need to be sure whoever is assuming those duties can perform at your own level of expertise. If you have a management team in place, reach out to your best employees and teach them how to do the tasks that take up a lot of your time. Alternatively, or in addition to training staff, considering finding a partner who can complement your business.

Outsource Help

Some tasks may be better completed by outsourcing rather than hiring and training new employees. Back office assignments, such as billing and collections, can be sourced out if you aren’t in need of full-time help. It is more important to free up your time for those heavyweight projects. If your time is spent on resubmitting denied claims rather than long-term planning, you could miss out on taking your practice to the next level of its potential.  Keep in mind if you choose this route that it can get costly, especially if a lot of duties are being replaced by outsourcing. Additionally, quality is a concern to consider as well if you choose this route. Will the quality be to your standard and will your practice be a priority for the vendor like it is for you?

Consider Bringing on a Partner

Perhaps you want to take a bigger step back than just simply passing off some tasks to someone else. You want to grow your practice, but you don’t want to do it alone. You can see the bigger picture, and you know a partner is necessary.  A physician partner can help you get to the next level by bringing a complimentary skill set to the table. Having a physician partner will allow you to spend more time doing the things you love outside the practice and focus on the things you have a passion for within the practice. A good physician partner will want to see the practice succeed because of the synergistic elements you two bring to the practice. If you do decide to add a physician partner, there are many things to consider, which I have addressed in previous articles.

Consider a Gradual Complete Exit

Maybe your aim is to retire completely from your practice. Maybe you love your practice, but you’re drained and need to get out or move on. Maybe your priorities in life have shifted but you don’t have a way to step back. This is the road to succession planning. A new owner could be your best bet. Whether that’s a physician partner or another acquiring entity, you can work to create a transitional period after the sale. Your practice is a financial investment for some buyers, so you if you can illustrate the value your employees bring to your business, you can advocate for their continued employment. After all, if you are going to leave your practice, you want to make sure you leave your employees in a good atmosphere. When it’s time to replace yourself, it’s important that you provide a secure environment for those you leave behind. Additionally, a gradual transition out of your practice will give everyone who works with you a chance to get used to the changes, and it will retain their respect for you.

Planning ahead allows you to focus on the best fit for the practice, first and foremost. Once you find the best fit that will respect the legacy of the practice and your employees, then it is very likely you will also find the greatest value.


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Thinking of buying or selling a medical practice?

Medical practice acquisitions represent a challenging and risky strategic decision. There are three main legal structures for acquiring a medical practice: asset purchase, stock purchase, or merger. All three of these structures are different types of acquisitions. A merger is a type of acquisition that has a particular legal meaning.

The decision to buy, sell, or merge a medical practice is more complicated than ever, and physician owners must have a clear understanding of the legal structure of the potential transaction. Here are some of the advantages, disadvantages, and considerations for these legal structures.

Asset Purchase

In an asset purchase, the buyer purchases specific assets of the target practice that are listed within the transaction documents. Buyers may prefer an asset purchase because they can avoid buying unneeded or unwanted assets and liabilities. Generally, no liabilities are assumed unless specifically transferred under the transaction documents. Because the liabilities remain within the selling practice, buyers can eliminate or reduce the risk of assuming unknown liabilities.

Further, buyers typically receive better tax treatment when purchasing assets as opposed to stock. Buyers may also be able to reduce their taxable gain or increase their loss when they later sell or dispose of the assets.

The main risk to buyers in an asset purchase transaction is that a buyer may fail to purchase all of the assets it needs to effectively run the practice. There are also various aspects of an asset sale that can be time-consuming and drive up transaction costs, such as listing specific assets and determining their value.

For some assets, third-party consent may be required before the assets can be transferred to the buyer. The manner in which title of an asset is passed to the buyer will vary depending on each kind of asset. Finally, there is always the risk that the seller could retain sufficient assets to continue as a competing going concern. This risk is usually mitigated by requiring that the seller enters into a covenant not to compete with the buyer.

Sellers generally disfavor asset transactions because the seller is left with potential liabilities without significant assets it could otherwise use to satisfy those liabilities. Also, the tax treatment of an asset sale is generally less favorable to sellers than a stock sale. The practice and its shareholders can each potentially incur taxable income, which could result in double-taxation of the sale proceeds. Entities that have pass-through taxation such as partnerships, LLCs and S corporations can avoid the problem of double taxation and thus may be more likely to accept an asset purchase structure.

Stock Purchase

In a stock purchase, the buyer purchases the stock of the target practice directly from the target’s shareholders. The practice remains an existing going concern after the purchase, and its business, assets, and liabilities are all unaffected by the transaction. A stock purchase may be preferred if the buyer wishes to continue operating the target practice after the purchase. Further, absent unusual circumstances, consent from third parties is not needed to approve the transaction.

However, the buyer may be exposed to unknown risks by buying the entire practice, assets, and liabilities. Buyers can reduce their risk by holding back some of the purchase price in escrow to satisfy any liabilities that arise after closing.

Obtaining approval for a stock purchase can be problematic if the target has a large number of shareholders. Unless there are agreements in place before finalizing a deal, buyers cannot force shareholders to sell. Thus, a holdout shareholder could refuse to sell to the buyer. This result can be very undesirable for buyers and could ultimately cause the deal to fall apart.

Buyers may have less preferential tax treatment in a stock purchase. However, in certain circumstances, buyers can elect to treat the stock purchase as an asset purchase, thus securing a desirable tax treatment.


In a merger, two separate legal entities become one surviving entity. Under state law, the assets and liabilities of each are then owned by the new surviving legal entity. There are several structures that mergers can take. The simplest is a forward merger, whereby the selling practice merges into the purchasing practice, and the purchasing practice survives the merger.

Sometimes, buyers will wish to keep the target practice as a separate legal entity for liability reasons, so the buyer will instead merge the target into a wholly-owned subsidiary corporation of the buyer, called a forward triangular merger. When complete, the subsidiary survives the merger, holding all of the assets and liabilities of the target practice.

Both a forward and a forward triangular merger generally require consent from third parties, as the target practice ceases to exist after the merger and all of its assets are owned by the surviving entity. A reverse triangular merger is similar to a forward triangular merger, except that the target practice is the surviving entity, instead of the wholly-owned subsidiary of the buyer.

How a merger is taxed depends on its structure. Generally, forward and forward triangle mergers are taxed as asset purchases while reverse triangular mergers are taxed as stock purchases.

In terms of required corporate approvals, mergers generally require approval only of the seller’s board of directors and a majority of its shareholders (absent other requirements in its charter documents). This lower threshold is particularly appealing when a target practice has multiple shareholders. However, shareholders who vote against the merger will generally have appraisal rights under state law. Appraisal rights, or Dissenters’ Rights, enable dissenting shareholders to petition a court to obtain the fair market value of their shares. This can complicate transactions and increase the buyer’s costs.

Clearly, medical practice transactions can be complicated. Consequently, it is imperative that physicians have an experienced and competent team consisting of a consultant, accountant, and attorney who help you review all of your options and choose the one that ensures your practice’s continued success.


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5 Key Ingredients for a Successful Startup

Physician entrepreneurs need know-how and a strategic vision to run a company. They also need to know what they don’t know so they can fill those critical knowledge gaps. I work with many physician entrepreneurs with great ideas who want them to come to fruition. These physicians are often curious as to what would make their startup successful. You could argue that many ingredients go into a successful startup, and luck is undoubtedly one of them. However, there are additional elements that are necessary for success. Here are five critical elements that are sometimes missing when beginning a startup:

No strategy

Unfortunately, most startups—like many medical practices—do not have a strategy even though many claim they do. Rather, these physician entrepreneurs often have mission statements or goals. For example: “Our strategic goal is to grow 20 percent per year in revenues and profits over the next five years.” These are not strategies; these are aspirational goals or wish lists. A strategy is a coherent set of analyses, concepts, policies, arguments, and actions that respond to a significant challenge or opportunity. A strategy should be described very simply, often with an analogy or metaphor. Arriving at this succinct conclusion, however, takes many hours of work.

No evidence-based business model

Sometimes a startup will have a “business plan” that describes the company and how it plans to reach target numbers in their five-year financial pro forma. Problem is, this narrative consists mostly of assumptions and judgment calls. Business models should first start with the idea (solution and opportunity).  Models should then show how each critical element of the business ecosystem works together with all the other elements to achieve repeatable, sustainable sales. Each significant assumption needs to be tested and verified so potential investors are confident of the startup’s success.

No compelling story

In my experience, very few physician entrepreneurs know how to craft and tailor their story to all of their audiences. Telling your story includes infographics, presentations, and most importantly, answering questions. A standard one-size-fits-all presentation does not work. Every audience has different levels of experience, expertise, and interests. I find most of the pitches are presentations with a text-filled slide deck and a rambling list of product features. They don’t show the bigger picture or how their idea will solve a problem. A persuasive story must take people from Point A (uninformed or skeptical) to Point B (knowledgeable and committed). The story must also be filled with benefits that relate to the specific persons addressed.

No fundraising plan

Most physician entrepreneurs leave fundraising until the end of the development process. Raising funds is hard work and takes lots of time away from nurturing the business. But, you have to start early and identify when you will need additional funds, how and from whom you are going to raise these funds, and outline a process to reach your goals. It is challenging to “sell” investors on a high-risk venture. It is better to get investors involved as early as possible and let them “sell themselves” along the way.


A critical component in the company’s success can be attributed to the CEO and the leadership team. For many investors, the CEO and team’s capabilities are the first, and often most important criterion, they evaluate. Founders with a great idea are not automatically great CEO’s. It takes a person with vision, know-how, focus, and a growth mindset.  The CEO must have the ability to make decisions under stress and uncertainty, and know how to keep score (revenues and profits). A great CEO knows the development phases of the business and is able to adjust herself and the team to meet the challenges of each phase. A talented CEO and team determine the success of the company.

These five elements are important, but by no means the only ingredients. Just as in baking, a successful startup requires careful calculations, precise measurements, and fine tuning. With the right guidance and structured thought process, physician entrepreneurs can run their existing medical practice and also nurture that next budding idea that they have.


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