Doctors make bad entrepreneurs

Doctors make bad entrepreneurs. I know I told you they make great entrepreneurs. But there are always exceptions. There are a couple of reasons why:

  1. They are all perfectionists
  2. They often haven’t learned skills outside of medicine
  3. They don’t have any time for anything outside of medicine 

Perfection stagnation

Our GPAs had to be perfect. It was better to drop a class than get a B. Try a new extracurricular? Only do them if you can get an award.

We got into medicine with a singular focus on medicine and not failing. They went hand in hand. It worked. We got into medical school and residency. 

But it didn’t create healthy habits.

Then we got into a profession where sometimes we do make choices between life and death. Split-second choices. Failure is definitely not an option then. 

Unfortunately, it carries over to the rest of our life. We’re scared of trying new things. Or picking up a hobby or side hustle. Well, unless we know we will be good at it.

That’s different than Silicon Valley. The land of the startups. Where their mantra is to fail early and fail often. We have to re-wire our brains. It’s okay to fail outside of medicine. We can try something new. 

I still have that fear. When we launched our course. I thought, “I shouldn’t have done this.” What if no one bought it? It was painful to think about it. But I did. I forced myself to think, what if? Well, I still had my livelihood. I wouldn’t be put on the street.

I would have wasted my time, but at least I’d learn something in the process. I could always launch the course again. I decided to launch. It wasn’t perfect. Far from it. There were a few typos. I had mispronounced a few words. 

Nothing bad happened. I even had some sales.  Had I just strived for perfection, I would still be in the same spot. 

Few skills outside of medicine

We only learned medicine in medical school. Seems kind of common sense, right? Well, there’s so much more to practicing medicine than medicine. 

How do we talk to patients? How do we set up a practice? How do you negotiate with insurances? It’s hard to see patients if you can’t keep the lights on at your office. 

We come out of residency with so few ancillary skills of medicine that the first few years are tough. Fortunately, now there are online communities of doctors out there supporting each other.

There are also websites such as KevinMD that help give voices to physicians and the ability to help each other. 

Many of us have gone back to school and gotten an executive MBA or another type of master’s degree. An entrepreneur has to wear many hats, and very few of those skills are taught in medical school. 

Lack of time

Medicine is a full-time job with enveloped in another full-time job. A few of us are lucky to work shift work where our hours are capped. However, most other docs take their work home. 

Work a full day and write notes at home. All in all, most doctors easily work past a normal 40 hour workweek. That doesn’t even include the many extra stuff we have to do, such as CME, admin work, or other trainings.

That leaves little time for family and exercise. Now you want to do something as time intensive as becoming an entrepreneur. How is that even possible? 

Well, countless docs have done just that. I still work full time. Actually, 1.25 FTE. Down from about 1.75 FTE last year. There’s plenty of time in the day. 

In our physician entrepreneur incubator called Leverage & Growth Accelerators, we have physicians of all types. They are also in all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. The one thing that is consistent around them is that they don’t have any extra time.

But they make time. 

Make time for their futures. 

Now more than ever, doctors need financial security outside of medicine. Becoming an entrepreneur is a great pathway for financial freedom. Many of us have the same reasons why we can’t become an entrepreneur. 

But those reasons are able to be overcome. And have been by hundreds of other physicians. 

They’ve paved the way for you. Now all you have to do is start. 

Pranay Parikh is a hospitalist and can be reached at his self-titled site, Pranay Parikh.

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