What can an entrepreneur teach me as a Private Practice Clinician?

In case you didn't get a chance to attend, but felt like you were missing out, I want to share with you some of the highlights of the Youpreneur summit that I recently attended, and what on earth these learnings could mean for you and your practice.

Whilst you might be thinking “Why would anyone attend a conference that isn't clinical? Surely you should be going on the next rib-tickling-scapular-balancing course?” My answer would be…

You all need to spend some time, effort and maybe a little dosh, on the business side of your practice if you want it to blossom.

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We are not taught business in the clinical world, let alone entrepreneurialism, but entrepreneurs are, by definition, fantastic at growing better businesses. We can learn what works, from them.

The Youpreneur summit was the first big UK event put on by Chris Ducker. If you listen to any business podcasts, chances are you have heard of him. He brought together a motley crew of fantastic speakers, and what they had to say can really help you in the growth of your practice.

There were two overriding themes or “take-home messages” of the conference.

The first was – and to quote Pat Flynn – “It's not about you, it's about who you serve”. In other words, when we are reaching out to referrers and future patients, we need to focus on their needs and problems. We should resist banging on about our amazing Da Vinci robot, the 3,500 respiratory publications we have first-authored, or the fact that we are the best darn Osteo in the known universe.

To achieve this, we need to be actively promoting how we can help people and answering their questions – online. And this means being found online. Which means consistently creating content online.

When we are first starting out with a bit of blogging or putting some noise up there on the internet, chances are, we’ll write something we think that is a relevant topic or something that we think people will be interested in. You might decide to write about “endometriosis” or “seasonal affective disorder”. Now whilst that is a fantastic way to get started with building an audience, you mustn't make assumptions that your chosen topic is what your audience wants to read about.

So, what’s our best move?

We need to ask them, and ask what their concerns or difficulties are.

Without pointing out the bleedin obvious, we could ping them an email, we could have a chat with them during a consultation, or, if you are particularly enthusiastic, you could even send out a little e-mail survey.

You might want to ask four or five brief questions, and these could be very open-ended.

For example…

What are your most burning questions about Lupus?

What is your biggest challenge when returning to running after an injury?

What info is not out there for you? And what would you like to read more about?

Chances are, you will be surprised at the results.

If you want to reach out to referrers, then Chris Ducker recommended starting with those you already know.

So literally, pick up the phone and ring them! Ask for five minutes of their precious time, and have a little natter about what they struggle with and where they need help.

Here's the really important part; write down exactly what they say in their words. You can then make that into the title of your blog, literally using the words that someone would put into Google if they were searching for an answer.

An awesome tool to try is www.answerthepublic.com. If you put a keyword in such as “sprained ankle”, it will provide you with a whole list of articles that can be found online, that relates to questions surrounding the topic of sprained ankles. It will give you food for thought when it comes to writing articles that answer questions.

Now all you need to do is get writing on that topic area.

But… it's is not just about the online world…

Let's say you really want to be known as the go-to person when it comes to treating piles (humour me). To achieve a rock star equivalent, household name in the world of treating piles, you need to be…

A. More than a just little bit good at helping bottoms.

B. Be known to people.

Janet Murray, who has previously spent years in journalism and is an expert at advising on PR for business, had some fab words of advice, particularly if you want to get your words of expertise quoted in the printed press.

Think what it could do for your practice if you were to be featured in the Guardian or the Daily Mail (but just try to stay out of Viz).

Journalists are busy people, but like your patients, they are also looking for answers to their questions. You could be their “on tap, go-to clinical advisor”, once they know who you are.

Thankfully, there are some useful tools for this too.

A quick and easy free tool is to get on Twitter and search for #journorequests. (You can also follow the Twitter handle, @journo_request ). There you will find a stream of Twitter feed, consisting of journalists hunting for opinions and expert advice on a ton of different topic areas.

I had a quick nosey this afternoon, and saw that a journalist was looking to speak with a physiotherapist about the dangers of using a step counter app, someone else wanted to speak with someone who had experience with treating oesophageal strictures, and a popular magazine was wanting to hear from people who had opinions on women who deliberately try to keep their weight down during pregnancy. You’ll almost certainly find a request that applies to your clinical niche if you hunt their daily, too.

The beauty of using Journorequest, is that you can quickly find twitter handles regularly used by journalists, and that means that you can also alert them to anything fascinating going on in your clinical world. Do remember that journalists aren't interested in you (sorry about that). They are interested in the story. When you contact them, try to keep it as simple, straightforward and direct as possible.

The other major theme at the summit was video.

We all need to be producing video if we want to have an online presence that doesn't sink into obscurity.

FACT: 1/3 of online activity is watching Video.

FACT: 1/2 of all video views are on a mobile device.

FACT: YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google.

Patients and referrers are always searching for solutions to their problems and issues on YouTube. Let's face it, we have all used it at some time or another, and it can come in pretty handy. Want to know how to get a plaster cast off a child and don’t want to look like a twit? You look on YouTube.

The current Queen of online video content in the social media world, is the lovely Amy Schmittauer.

I had a tête-à-tête with Amy, and she had a word of advice about cameras: To quote her – “The best camera to use, is the one nearest to you”. Which is almost certainly your shiny new iPhone X! In other words, don’t let the fear of the gear put you off from making your camera debut.

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For most of us, the idea of producing video is either daunting or even nausea-inducing. But we must embrace that it's time to get over ourselves, and get onto Facebook live, or start embedding video links into our websites. If you fail to do this, you risk being left behind.

Fretting about your appearance? Fear not!
You don't have to be red carpet ready or have perfectly straight teeth to do this. If you need a little encouragement from someone who is killing it online, (but isn’t an Angelina Jolie look-alike), go to YouTube and search “Antonella the uncensored reviewer”. Once you stop laughing, you’ll appreciate the significance of the scale of her on-line reach. She pulls in some pretty significant numbers – most of her videos are viewed by audiences of least 50 to 60,000.

Imagine if you could do the equivalent in your clinical sphere!

So, fire up that smart phone, get your boat-race online, and get ahead.

Sometimes, we all need a little extra help in building our practices – from a business perspective, as well as a clinical one.

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