I never set out to be an entrepreneur, but they say necessity is the mother of invention and for me, that’s true.
When our family entered the world of rare diagnoses, my husband and I did so with the objective of learning as much as we could about the treatment for our daughter’s rare disease and nothing more.
For myself, I never dreamed that foray would lead me into entrepreneurship and my passion for helping families better manage their health and medical care.
When life throws you a curveball, you swing
In 2009, my four-month-old daughter, Cambria, was diagnosed with a rare disease called Panhypopituitarism with secondary Adrenal Insufficiency.
After her diagnosis, we were tasked with monitoring a number of important aspects of her medical care. Since little was known about her diagnosis, I threw myself into researching her disease, cataloging every medical detail.
Along the way, I met scores of other parents in the same boat. We were all searching for a way to be better organized, to provide better feedback to our child’s medical team and to provide better continuity of care.
Sometimes, that means creating your own bat first
Every search had left us empty handed, so I began creating my own tracking forms and spreadsheets, a throwback to the days when I would work with spreadsheets for hours on end as a corporate payroll tax accountant.
I began sharing these tools with other parents across the country and My Med Buddy was born.
When I first began toying with the idea of writing a medical journal for children, launching a business wasn’t a high priority on my list. I was teaching online college courses at the time and developing curriculum for universities.
I enjoyed watching the subtle and obvious changes students would undergo as they pursued knowledge and earned degrees. But as an educator and a mom, I wanted to effect greater change. I wanted to solve a very real problem for families coping with a diagnosis. Thus another entrepreneur was born.
Six lessons I’ve learned as being my own boss
1. You’re never off the clock. You might begin work on a project at 8:30 in the morning after dropping off the kids and return to it later after they’ve gone to bed. Try to make the best use of your productive hours and know when it’s time to quit. Stephen Covey always reminds us that highly successful people “sharpen the saw” – that includes rest.
2. You’ll have to do some things that aren’t your favorite. One of my favorite parts of my job is interacting with the families that use My Med Buddy products. I love hearing their feedback because it allows me to hone our product line even more.
My other favorite? Working with nonprofits, hospitals, and other medical professionals to advance our efforts. I actually get to enjoy these parts maybe 10% of the time. The other 90% is made up of planning, administrative tasks, product development and the other necessary evils that keep my business running.
3. You must learn to say no. That’s it. “No” is a sentence all by itself. You don’t have to justify your “no.” At some point, your schedule will become an overwhelming cluster of to-do lists, post-it notes, and appointments.
When this happens, clear every single thing off your desk and calendar, then add back the non-negotiables (family time, workouts, work) one at a time. If an offer or request comes your way and it doesn’t fit with your goals and schedules, gracefully decline.
4. You cannot do everything alone, but you can be creative. You might not be able to hire staff right away. That’s okay. You can take advantage of low-cost, high-impact resources in the meantime.
Check out Fiverr for low-cost contractors specializing in everything from press releases to logo design. Have a friend with mad Wordpress skills? Trade your accounting skills for their coding prowess. It’s a win-win.
5. Your building will crumble without a solid foundation. This begins not just with planning, but with your daily schedule. There is a saying that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Truer words were never spoken.
Block off time for housework, schedule a single day to run all of your errands and make sure you plan for a workout. Time for family and friends is a must. Don’t be afraid to block out these times, as they will help fuel you and your mission.
6. Make it easy. Steve Jobs was known for his black turtleneck. Was he itching to impact the fashion industry with his wardrobe selection? No. He was trying to make things easy.
Many entrepreneurs follow the same routine every day, selecting what’s familiar and easy so they can focus 100% on more challenging decisions. Make it easy where you can in your own life.
When working on the entrepreneurial certification program for Grantham, I was constantly reminded of all the extras that go into being an entrepreneur. Being prepared with the right skillset will help you become not only a passionate entrepreneur, but a successful one, too.
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