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Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE Daring Doctors



Thinking About Becoming an Entrepreneur? 6 Keys to Success

by Philippa Kennealy, MD, MPH, CPCC, Coaching Associate with www.PhysicianLeadership.com

Do you wish your career offered more than just showing up on the job?  Are you secretly incubating an idea for a business, but don’t know where to start with it? Are you longing for a creative outlet that makes you money and frees you up from relying on your practice or organizational position for income?    

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you may be poised to join the ranks of the thousands of employees from all industries, including physicians, who are either fleeing the rigidity and frustration of working for someone else or who are brightening up their days by building a business “on the side”.

Physician as Entrepreneur - The Story of Dr. S

A client of mine, Dr. S, was a hospitalist who disliked working for a large group and had dreams of starting her own business. She nurtured the germ of an idea of offering a service to medical practices in response to a need she felt existed in her community.  

She had taken the bold step of quitting her group and launching her business, but she was stuck. She had received some “bites” for her service, but because she lacked a business plan, a source of financing and a marketing strategy, she was barely making it each month. Not the life she had envisioned for herself!  

When I started working with her as her coach, one of our first actions was to explore her approach to her business:

  • Was she using her business as an excuse to create a job and some income for herself? 

  • Or was she committed to building a thriving business by following sound business development principles?

Don't Have an "Entrepreneurial Seizure"

In the book, “The E-Myth Revisited,” Michael Gerber debunks the myth that all it takes to succeed in business is to be good at something, and be willing to work hard. He points out the rate of failure of small businesses is 40% of the more than one million businesses in the first year!  He attributes this largely to people being caught up in what he terms an “entrepreneurial seizure”.  

Entrepreneurship is the mother of all roller coaster rides. It demands passion, perseverance and purpose. It first shows up as a restlessness, a questioning of the status quo, a hungry curiosity and, if indulged, it has the capacity to thrill, tease and terrify.  

Like Dr. S, you might begin your business with a desire for escape, or more flexibility, or as an outlet for your creativity. Soon however, you may find yourself mired in a business that has you enslaved – you’re working “in your business” and it’s become the tyrannical boss you sought to flee.  

Six Keys to a Successful Venture

How do you avoid this trap as an entrepreneur? Here are the 6 keys to embarking on a successful entrepreneurial venture:

1. Get clear  

To have the tenacity and fire in the belly to develop and grow a start-up business, you need, MUST HAVE an inspiring vision of what you hope to accomplish and what your motivations are to begin charting this course.

2. Feel your passion

It’s daunting to think of changing course in your career or finding the time to build a business on the side, but it is unbridled enthusiasm for what you are doing that will enable you to move past the doubts and insecurities that plague all but the hardiest entrepreneurs.


Much of entrepreneurship is about “the inner game”! Develop self-awareness about your strong points and about those of your skills or qualities that needs bolstering. Having good insight into what gives meaning to your day, and what emotional needs an entrepreneurial adventure will satisfy, will serve you well when the ride gets bumpy.

4. Don’t go it alone

Use a trusted sounding board, find a loving devil’s advocate, hire a coach, or join a like-minded group of budding entrepreneurs - people who are willing to keep you honest, without throwing cold water on your dreams.


As physicians, we were educated to exercise clinical skills – we are what Michael Gerber terms superb “Technicians”. Begin to acquire the skills of business, which include:

  • Leadership to carry the torch of your vision

  • How to write a business plan

  • Financial planning

  • Managing systems that operationalize and support the smooth running of your business

  • Strategic partnering and planning

  • Marketing and developing a brand

  • Selling

  • Fulfilling the needs of your potential clients.

You may choose to do this with a formal education. If your passion is heating up and you don’t want to delay or invest your start-up capital in an expensive degree, find one of the many other routes to getting an on-the-job education. People do it all the time, and succeed!


Remember, this newsletter is entitled “Daring Doctors." Entrepreneurship is not for the timid, but, by way of encouragement, I can attest to the fact that it provides a greater sense of aliveness and personal accomplishment than all the other careers I have known.

Thrive, and inspire yourself with the following quote of Goethe’s: "Whatever you can do, or believe you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." 

Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC, President of Oya Consulting, is an Executive and Personal Coach who helps her healthcare executive and professional clients express their full potential as organizational or business leaders and individuals. She can be reached at pkennealy@oyaconsulting.com



Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE
15600 NE 8th Street, Suite B1-173
Bellevue, WA  98008
(206) 686-4205

Francine R. Gaillour, MD   ©2006 Ki Health, Inc.