Brad McCarty • October 18, 2018

In one of our recent articles, we focused on the problem of “I have an idea…so now what?” For the physician entrepreneur, navigating the waters building a business while practicing medicine can be a challenge. You’re being pulled from all sides — your family, your patients, your company or idea — which leaves very little time for yourself. With all that said, the appeal of entrepreneurship is something that can’t be ignored. So let’s talk about what it takes to make it happen.

Set Your Schedule

The pundits will tell you that you have to do whatever it takes to succeed, even if that means neglecting yourself. Any physician will tell you, however, that proper rest is critical to health. So instead of starting this talk by focusing on the idea and the execution, let’s instead begin with setting a schedule.

In his 2016 book The 10% Entrepreneur, Patrick J. McGinnis posits that there are several types of entrepreneurship, and you can be successful at any of them by dedicating as little as ten percent of your spare time. To put these numbers into perspective, if you dedicate from 8 until 10 pm daily to “recreation”, that’s a mere twelve minutes each day that you’d need to put toward building your idea.

Plausible? McGinnis has studies in the book that argue his case. That said, the specific amount of time isn’t as important as the practice of setting a schedule and sticking to it. This practice makes sure that not only are your responsibilities getting the time that they should, but you’re taking care of yourself as well.

Get Educated

Medical school is designed to teach you how to become a physician, not an entrepreneur. That education is better left up to a combination of those who have come before you, and your own experiences. Part of that experience comes from being a practicing physician. This is where you will find the problems that you want to solve.

The next step of education comes in learning how to run a business. After all, that’s what you’re creating. This education can come in many forms, but one of the most widely-recognized is the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs. SoPE offers opportunities for collaboration, education, and help at every stage of the commercialization process.

Events like The Physician Entrepreneur Summit are also prime opportunities for education. They can help both the newcomer and the veteran understand the fine points of business and entrepreneurship while highlighting upcoming areas in medicine that offer strong opportunities for innovation.

Whether it’s a society, an event, or a discussion over coffee, never pass up the opportunity to learn. There may not be a degree involved, but the payoff is greater than any college program could provide.

Embrace Opportunity

Opportunity as an entrepreneur takes on many forms. For some, it will be serving as an advisor. For others it will be as an investor. Look for open doors that will allow you to get involved with companies in your area of expertise, and then walk through them.

But opportunity in entrepreneurship has a less-familiar face as well — one that looks a lot like failure.

As a physician, failure is has the potential to be devastating. As an entrepreneur, failure is part of what makes you great. As Thomas Edison famously said, ” I have not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Every failure as an entrepreneur is an opportunity for you to learn. These lessons can be about your product, about your market, or about yourself. Your ability to judge in a clinical setting comes from experience. The same is true for your ability to judge opportunities and challenges in the business world.


Navigating the waters as a physician entrepreneur can be daunting. But if you know what you’re looking for, then finding it becomes a lot easier. By setting a schedule for yourself, seeking out help, and dedicating yourself to learning at every step, you will be better situated for success.

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