Saturday, January 06, 2007

Going Solo? The first 5 steps

Congratulations for making your move and taking the plunge, whether it was voluntary or not. It's great. Now, while the task ahead of you may seem enormous, it is actually quite doable; just break it up into pieces. Here are what I would consider the 5 most important first steps.

  1. Burn your last bridge: By this I don't mean to offend people, at least not on purpose, but instead I mean you need to close off any opportunities to "run back" to the "safety" of employeeship. You will have many periods of stress and doubt early on, but if you make success your only option, you'll find it. If you give yourself a "safety" option, you'll find that. In the words of Eminem, "Success is my only motherfucken option. Failures not. . ." Success is your only option too.
  2. Get a computer: Preferrably a notebook. Notebooks today offer speed, connectivity, RAM and ROM comparable to desktops, but they offer flexibility and mobility that you'll rely upon heavily in your first few weeks. You can actually run your entire office from a notebook computer with off the shelf software, all for < $1500.
  3. Get a phone number: In the past, you would have needed an office first, but not any more. You can get a VOIP phone, SKYPE phone, cell phone, or all of the above within hours after burning your bridge, or even before you burn it. And these numbers port easily, meaning they go where you go. Once you have a phone you can start booking patients, scheduling meetings and deliveries, and dealing with insurance companies and vendors.
  4. Get a PO Box: This is easier than finding an office and lets you start conducting business that requires the US mail. You can use your home address too, but I think that the PO Box is better, if only because of style points. Plus, you get enough junk mail at home. PO Boxes care cheap as well.
  5. Get a box: You are quickly going to start to get tons of papers that you'll need to save and file, but you won't have a place to file them yet, nor will you have established your system for filing. Just get a good box, a big one, and throw the papers into it. Organize later, but don't worry; what you need is in the box.
  6. Get an office: Yes, I know I said 5 things. But number 6 is important as well, just not in the first few weeks. You will ultimately need an office. This does not necessarilly mean your own office with multiple rooms, including a waiting room and reception area and consult room etc. You can take a more temporary, and less costly approach, and sublease as little as 1 exam room. Take your time before you pick an office, especially if you are going to sign a multi-year lease. That is why "get an office" is number 6. While you are doing 1-5, you are looking for #6.

That's it. The first 5 and the rest will fall into place, with a lot of effort.