Entrepreneurs (and Intrapreneurs alike) are the source of positive change. Without you, anything made or conceived by humans would have remained, at most, an idea.
Over the past few months, I’ve been running a 90-day challenge for Entrepreneurs new to the health sector. By going live on YouTube, as well as on my podcast (available on Spotify, Apple, & Google, or your preferred podcast player), I’ve been sharing my journey into the world of innovation and entrepreneurship due to my personal experience with health. I’ve also been highlighting the stories of Entrepreneurs, perhaps like you, who come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, but feel inspired to pivot into the world of health after their own personal experience.
Hearing your ideas & success is music to my ears. We need you and the solutions you bring to the many problems within the health and care space. However, even the seasoned serial Entrepreneurs make some common mistakes when entering the health sector. Today I’m going to cover 10 of these mistakes, which I feel actually apply to any sector. Ignore these at your discretion, but you may be risking the scalability, sustainability, and success of your business or startup.
As The Entrepreneur’s Doctor, my mission is to help you, the Entrepreneur, create a healthier, happier world through your ventures. This often starts with our own health.
Let’s dive right in:
Mistake 1 – Creating a solution, looking for a problem
This may seem obvious, but it still happens more often than you may think. Nevertheless, I’d like to challenge this a little. While it may be more appropriate to first identify problems, and only then to look for solutions, there are times when innovators create new products or services that are worth sharing with the health sector for consideration about potential use cases. You’ll be surprised how this alone stirs creativity and sometimes unexpected innovation.
Mistake 2 – Not being specific enough
You may have been inspired to enter the health space after your own experience, or perhaps after caring for a loved one and seeing a problem that you could solve. However, when it comes to health, the more specific we become, the better. Often, I see pitches that state the goal of improving “mental health”. This is just an example, but what does that mean? Are you preventing or treating a specific mental health disorder? If so, which one? If on the prevention side, what level of prevention do you mean? Who are you helping? Where are they? I could go on…
Mistake 3 – Missing the public health perspective
As an Entrepreneur new to the health sector, your natural approach is to find subject matter experts to serve as board advisors. You may even hire a Chief Medical Officer (CMO). Think again… while they are highly valuable, there is tremendous value in bringing a public health perspective. This offers a holistic angle on both prevention and treatment, alongside the strategic insight on assessing needs, designing research, selecting appropriate solutions, and optimising the health system.
Mistake 4 – Focusing on the wrong thing!
Most Entrepreneurs are merely focusing on the symptoms affecting healthcare, which is responsible for only about 10% of what makes us healthy. On the other hand, 90% of our health is outside healthcare, whether it is the food we eat, the air we breathe, the work we do, the homes we live in, and how we live our lives. About 50% is determined by our lifestyle, but here’s where we often go wrong; many solutions are targeting lifestyles when it is often too late. The best solutions take a life-course approach.
Mistake 5 – Ignoring the sector’s needs & priorities
You may very well have identified a very specific problem, and have the perfect solution, but did you ask your target audience about their needs? Where does your problem rank in their priorities? By identifying and listening to your stakeholders, you’ll prevent one of the most common reasons for the failure of many ventures; poor product-market fit. The question remains though, who do you ask, and what questions do you ask them, and how do you approach them as an Entrepreneur from a non-health background? Make sure to take a look at a checklist I put together, a prescription if you like, which you’ll receive when you sign up for my masterclass on how to launch a health venture even if you have no medical expertise (both the masterclass and checklist are available free and on-demand: https://www.entrepreneurs.doctor).
Mistake 6 – Not establishing ongoing evaluation from the start
Imagine going for a drive without a known destination. Now I agree that would be fun, and sometimes even therapeutic. However, for our business to grow and add value, we need key performance indicators, or KPIs. Think of it as a combination of the indicators on your dashboard and GPS device. KPIs, if correctly identified and used, can serve to tell you if you’re going in the right direction, getting closer to your destination, what you may need to do to get there faster, while letting you know if you’re running low on fuel, or your engine needs a check.
Mistake 7 – Marketing & brand strategy is an after-thought
Entrepreneurs often create a product or service, and only then recruit a marketing & brand team. What would happen if your marketing began while you’re developing your solution? Could it help with your market research, perhaps find partners and champions to aid with adoption, and raise awareness of the problem and need for your product or service before you deliver the solution?
Mistake 8 – Poor product-entrepreneur fit
The early days of any new business or startup, as stressful as they may be at times, are often the most fun. This honeymoon phase can quickly reach a tipping point when we start to feel overwhelmed with all the responsibilities, particularly if we haven’t put systems in place for resilience and optimal performance. For some, Entrepreneurs find that they’ve created a business that actually isn’t aligned with their preferred lifestyle. The consequences range from chronic stress and mental health disorders (e.g., anxiety and depression), through to physical diseases (e.g., high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke) and indeed more significant problems like suicide.
For me, it manifested as burnout and I speak about it in Episode 1 of The Entrepreneur’s Doctor podcast. Burnout prevention and mental health has been one of the core themes of this 90-day challenge. As Entrepreneurs, we can be particularly at-risk due to our passion for our vision, mission, and the work that we do. However, there are two types of passion, the first of which can work against us:
Mistake 9 – Sacrificing your health
The health & wellbeing of the Entrepreneur is at the core of all successful, scalable, and sustainable businesses. Make sure your business plan also has a health plan.
Mistake 10 – Not prioritising the health of your team
I’ll keep it simple, your most important customers are your fellow team members. I’ll leave that there, I think you know what I mean!
I’d love to hear from you. If you’re looking to launch your first or next health startup / business, remember to grab my checklist, which I’ll email over to when you sign up to watch my free masterclass available here. Take some time out as it will be an hour well spent. It’ll help you overcome the obstacles you’ll face in what is a very challenging space to navigate. In fact, Entrepreneurs often tell me that had they known how hard the health sector would be, they may not have pivoted. However, after quizzing them further, they feel that it is extremely rewarding. Their insights helped me create the free checklist and masterclass.
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