Physicians are born entrepreneurs. It’s not something that first comes to mind when thinking of physician success. At first, it’s easy to swallow the Kool Aid – “physicians are bad at business,” being that it is the mantra spoken from others who are “actually in business.” Although, there was some basis for their skepticism; it was born more out of the lack of physicians not knowing the language of business as opposed to their actual success or output.
Xcellerant Ventures brings a unique experience of personal entrepreneurial efforts and having been in the industry long enough to study others’ efforts at entrepreneurship. What we realized was that physicians already have all the traits commonly ascribed to successful entrepreneurs. Think of the entrepreneurs you know who are the most successful and catalogue their traits. Here are our top four:
Trait #1 – Resilience
If you are a physician reading this, you know this to be true. The premed curriculum, medical school, and residency are all things which require tenacity because this is not an easy, straight-line path. It is a grind day in and day out. Although you love most of it and would do it all again in a second, it was not without setbacks and obstacles. The point being that tenacity and resilience are simply part of physician DNA because, but for those qualities, we wouldn’t be here. After the “great, world changing idea” the most important thing looked for in an entrepreneur is resilience. They must prove to have what it takes to weather the storm. As Marcus Aurelias wrote, “Thou must be like a promontory of the sea, against which though the waves beat continually, yet it both itself stands, and about it are those swelling waves stilled and quieted.” Failing is part of the entrepreneurial process on the way to bringing a product or service to market and the ability to persevere through those storms. Those failures are essential to success.
Trait #2 – Work Ethic
Remember when the 80-hour per week rule for residents came out? Many residents remarked, “Eighty-hours, why are they working only half-time?!” Physicians are used to long hours. They are used to mind-numbing fatigue and know what it takes to press though and complete a task, no matter how tired they are. We all share this ability. Start-ups are hard, and a killer work ethic is a must-have to successfully navigate all the work necessary for starting a business.
Trait #3 – Creativity
This does not mean the ability to draw well or compose music or take beautiful pictures. It is more than that. It is the ability to look at a problem with a fresh set of eyes. To not let the past color the facts so that your response is pre-scripted. Think of all the times you had to accomplish a lot in less time than you had. Or, how you approached a patient with a confusing and complex presentation. Navigating those everyday challenges requires creativity. As an entrepreneur approaching the myriad of problems encountered, fresh eyes are absolutely integral.
Trait #4 – Intelligence
Most of us are not rocket scientists, however, physicians do have the capacity to assimilate information quickly and reasonably correct. Out of all the experience and professional schools our team has attended, medical school is by far the most daunting as far as the amount of information and the complexity of the building blocks necessary to be able to have the funds of knowledge required for taking care of someone. The point being: you don’t have to have an IQ that is off the charts to be an entrepreneur. However, you do need to be able to assimilate a large amount of disparate information to even get your start up to its MVP stage.
There are certainly other qualities important to be a successful entrepreneur, however, Xcellerant Ventures highlights these four as the “ride or die”. Among all the traits we see in young companies with the restless urge to succeed, resilience, work ethic, creativity, and intelligence rise to the top.