“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
Maximizing Your Efficiency
I work all the time. I have been working all the time since I helped start our home care agency in 2011. Creating your own business is a business itself of fits and spurts – at the beginning you spend a considerable amount of time on paperwork, creating policies and processes, and getting your name out there. But then you hit a bit of a lull while you still continue to market yourself, all while anxiously awaiting your first client.
Once you get going, you occasionally still have the lulls, during which you learn to tighten up procedures, pursue education, and shine up those marketing tactics which may have dulled over time. When you finally get comfortable with what you are doing, you start to dread and crave those lulls. Lulls are bad for business, but allow you a moment to breathe and make improvements. This difficult lesson is what I have learned – lulls are uncomfortable and scary, but if you are patient and persistent, you can use these times to shore up your resources and re-charge for the inevitable turn around.
Focus on Learning
Much of nursing is learned in school and then executed in practice, however, there is no possible way to perform every skill prior to graduation. Sometimes you are lucky enough to have seen the task performed prior to doing it, but other times you just have to read through the procedure in a book (sometimes a thousand times), which still does not offer the critical learning process of actually having hands-on experience. Building your own business is just like being a nurse – sometimes you do not have the luxury of pre-preparedness and have to learn it on the fly. It may not be perfect the first time around, but the execution of new skills builds confidence, and confidence allows for better execution of future skills!
Use Solid Data to Drive Change
Case studies are great because they allow for the collection of information in unusual cases. Take, for example, the vast knowledge about neuropsychology gained from the tragedy of Phineas Gage and his traumatic blow to the brain. Not something you would ever inflict on human, but valuable information nonetheless. However, the downside to case studies is that they are seldom scientific in manner, cannot be generalized to the rest of the population, and are extremely prone to bias. Many of us are prone to “case studying” our experiences, which is important to keep in mind when making occupational and business decisions. Just because you experienced one thing one time, it does not mean that it will occur in the exact same manner in the future.
As a nurse, you would never assume that a treatment will be 100% effective for all patients and as a business owner you cannot frame successes or failures just on one past experience. Track your efforts using a diary, goal tracker, or spreadsheet – the effort will pay off operationally and financially and you cannot argue with growth!
Set the Example by Giving Back
Sometimes the best marketing is not perceived as marketing at all – donating your time to worthy causes can be a great way to get exposure in your community. It also helps you to the raise the bar and set the example for being a great business owner. People who “ask” all the time (click here! call now! buy this today!) have a tendency to be ignored – how much value could you have when you demonstrate no interest in your consumer? But think about those businesses that you enjoy hearing about – are they after you like a used car ad or are they providing valuable information, concepts, and services in conjunction with what you can purchase?
Take Google – they are the go-to for searches, which create a trust in the brand. But then they offer email, photo uploading services, and even online payment options. Because you trust what they offer for free, you may be more willing to pay for perks as add-ons to already existing services. Or Zappos – they do not charge for their fantastic customer service, but because they excel at it, which in turn creates its own buzz. Because of this, many people who may be hesitant to buy shoes online will turn to Zappos for their footwear needs.
All of these skills are what it takes to be an entrepreneur and can be summarized up in one of my favorite concepts from nursing school: lean into the discomfort (aka perseverance – which I talked about in a previous blog!). This does not mean step on a tack and really enjoy it in a masochistic manner. What it means is get comfortable with being uncomfortable – continuing to only seek out situations that are safe or familiar do not readily allow for growth. And do not allow terrible experiences in which you feel like you have failed horribly to stop you from moving forward. Failures are the best experiences to learn from, and talk about motivating – you will definitely want to figure out how you can avoid those mistakes in the future.
In closing, I work all the time because I am working on the above skills all the time. Just this year I have learned how to run Facebook ads and streamlined processes by changing over to new software for payroll. I have gotten comfortable with video blogs (check out NursesWithHeart.com for our weekly home health hint), of which I was previously terrified. I have created formalized spreadsheets for tracking our new online marketing data from Facebook, which allows us to easily compare these results to other marketing activities. And I am actively pursuing opportunities to get involved in public health in our community – because an educated community is a healthier community!
So spread your wings and jump off that cliff – you never know what you’ll learn on the way down and an entrepreneur never passes up the opportunity to fly!