“At some point, you gotta change gears from thinking about your plan to living your plan”
How many times have you heard a friend or family member talk about their grand plans for personal wealth, or success? Happens all the time right? But how many of those individuals do you see take that final leap and actually PURSUE their dream or goal? Taylor Pearson in his book “The End Of Jobs” describes the difference between people who talk about their goals as WANT-trepreneurs, while people who go after their goals as true entrepreneurs. What they do not talk about in all the start-up books is HOW SCARY IT IS to actually go off on your own! It feels reminiscent of standing on top of the high dive as a kid!
You stand up there, all alone and seemingly thousands of feet above the water, waiting for some magical sign that it is time to take the plunge; some assurance from the universe that you will survive your leap! As many of you know however, we rarely get a giant neon sign telling us it’s time to jump. Instead, you dig down deep inside yourself, and find the courage to leap. You push yourself to jump into the air, into that point of no return. Once you are airborne, gravity takes care of the rest, and before you know it you are in the pool, looking up with a smile at what you just accomplished.
I had been searching for a way to start my own business for years, but never was quite sure how to achieve the first few steps. I (like many of us) had an end result in mind for what I wanted, but had no idea how to connect the dots. I knew that one day I wanted to own a veterinary practice. However, the task of actually acquiring a clinic, staffing it, and running seemed almost insurmountable! Believe it or not, you are not alone when you feel intimidated by starting a business! In order to achieve this goal, I made a list on what I thought I needed to learn in order to run a successful business. While these goals are specific to my dream, you can use these as a template for almost ANY BUSINESS.
- I knew that in order to be successful in this endeavor, I would need to have a strong understanding of business and practice management. I needed to learn from the bottom up what keeps a business ticking.
- I would need to understand how to work with a large variety of people and backgrounds, in regards to both employees and clients. No matter what kind of business you are looking to start, chances are you are not going to be serving people who are identical to you. Learning to communicate with people, understand the stake holders in a given situation, and deal with difficult situations is paramount to any business.
- Lastly (and most importantly) I would need a strong understanding of veterinary medicine that comes from hard work and experience. In other words, I needed to pursue mastery in my field. Whatever you do, work to be the very best at it.
Once I had these goals outlined, the next step was: How am I going to pursue these skills that I need? I could work at the same hospital for years in order to get general experience, but I was concerned that working at just one clinic was going to give me a one sided perspective. If I stay at one place, I am only going to see one way of running a practice. I want to see as many ways as possible to help me find what I think works best. And while I am at it, I want to see as much high level medicine and technique as possible.
At this point in time I was working full time as a new graduate at one practice. However, being the ambitious individual I am, I figured hey whats a couple more shifts. I contacted some other local clinics, and found an emergency practice that was short on people and needed some relief help. I eagerly dove in and before you knew it, I was happily working 6 days a week, learning as much as possible, and was totally loving it! I got to see how two very different but equally excellent clinics ran, see a larger variety of cases and techniques, and learn the business component for different demographics.
That lifestyle continued for me for the next half a year or so. I was still mulling over starting my own business, with the big questions of where, how, when, etc all still floating through my head. During this time, my reputation for excellent relief work was beginning to spread, and I was starting to get calls and emails from people, asking for shift coverage.
To be totally honest, I am not sure at what exact moment the idea hit me, but all at once I realized that I could be a relief veterinarian full time, and get all of the goals from my above list at once. It seemed like the perfect role to me: I could see how numerous businesses ran from the inside, see as much hospital and case variety as I wanted, and be responsible for setting my own schedule. I was essentially starting my own business, with only 1 employee!
I started reaching out to more clinics in a wider range to evaluate how much business I could find. The most terrifying part of this path is that I had no guaranteed income. If no one needed shifts covered, then I have no work until that changes! I could go for weeks, or even months (hopefully never ever months) without work. Needless to say, this line of work takes some extended planning and confidence. However, where one person sees a problem, another sees opportunity. If I wanted to ensure that I had work for the coming weeks, I needed to be aggressive about meeting potential clinics, and making a strong impression. I visited countless clinics and developed a rapport with them. All signs were looking good for starting my own business. All of my ducks were in a line as much as they could be. All that was left was the leap….
So there I was, on the edge of the business high dive. Waiting to take the plunge ( or quietly get off the ladder). I had potential clinics at the waiting for at least the next 3 weeks. After that it was anyone’s guess. So I pulled up my calendar, and picked a semi-random date, and wrote down that it was my opening business day. This may seem like a small, meaningless moment for some, but for me, it was that first step. That very first, real step. This was that moment to me which I jumped up into the air and off of the board! I had picked a date, and I was going to go forward with this crazy idea. I kept my momentum going, and put in my notice at my full time job. After doing this, I contacted the local clinics to let them know that I was going full time relief as of my selected date, and from there on out I started scheduling! I started off by booking a day at a time, and making sure I had enough work to cover me for the next week.
Since that day, I am proud to say things are going excellent. I have certainly hit a few snags and road bumps, but thus far it has been an amazing experience. I am getting all of the goals achieved from my list on a regular basis, have control of my own schedule, and have the satisfaction in knowing that I jumped out and started something, however small it may be. Each week and even each day is a new adventure, and I cannot wait to see where I grow from here.
Readers: What are some goals you need to set to help you reach your goal? What is stopping you from jumping out?