It seems like no matter what business idea you think of it’s already been done by someone else to the umpteenth degree. When you do come up with an idea, you simply can’t come up with a way to monetize it. Why would anyone want this or why would anyone pay for that?
Most nurses would give up at this point and say business isn’t for them. They will say something along the lines of “I can’t think of anything ” or “I’m not the type of person who”..
These are major barriers that really quell the curiosity that true NursePreneurs have. And as such, those nurses give up and move onto other things. But this guide isn’t for most nurses.
You clearly haven’t given up searching for an idea. Your curiosity and ambition is driving you further and deeper. You know that if someone else can do it, you can do it too.
Curious people say, “How do I find ideas to make a business work. I see other nurses starting their businesses and I want to know how to do it too. How can someone like me get started? Is it even possible? I want to find out.”
It’s this difference in attitude that makes all the difference in whether
1). You actually dip your toe in the water and
2). You actually put yourself in the position to become successful.
The fact is, ideas are all around you
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They are literally falling in your lap every day.
You just don’t have the proper lens on to see them yet.
I know because I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been the person who says all the good ideas have been taken, as well as finding so many ideas that were great business concepts I didn’t know what to do with them all.
And today, I want to pull back the veil to show you how you can find business ideas every single day. Plus I want to show you that you are actually sitting on a goldmine of hundreds of ideas without even realizing it.
The Best Ideas Are Right In Front Of You
If you are wondering how to find the best, most profitable business ideas that you can pursue as a nurse, let me tell you a story. Several years ago, I was a nurse practitioner working on the neuro unit. My patients were post op neurosurgery patients, stroke patients, and patients with every crazy neurological condition you can think of and even some that haven’t been classified yet.
I had already started a business freelancing my time as first assist to the neurosurgeons, but I wanted to start a business that didn’t require my physical presence. The problem was I couldn’t think of a single business idea.
Every idea I came up either didn’t seem right or I just didn’t understand how I could monetize it. I spent a long time searching for something I could do.
Then one day, I was discharging a patient who was rather anxious. He didn’t want to go home, because, as he said, no one understood what he was going through like the nurses did.
At first, I was some what annoyed because I had a lot of things to do and coaxing this patient to leave wasn’t in my time line. But he was so distraught, that I finally realized I would need to make the time if I were ever going to get that bed vacant. I told him when his wife got there, we would sit down and have a chat.
This gave me time to tidy up a couple other pressing matters. About 2 hours later, I came back resolved to just listen to this patient and his wife and then come up with a plan.
What happened during that meeting with the patient and his wife not only changed my discharge plans, but it changed my life.
How Your Nursing Training Is Your Most Valuable Asset
You have probably heard the saying, once you stop trying so hard to get something, it just comes to you, right? I remember my mom saying that to me about finding a boyfriend, or finding a house, and then having a baby. It’s annoying to hear.
But at the same time there’s some truth in it. Because if you are trying really hard at doing something and it’s not producing the results you want, then maybe you are trying the wrong way. Maybe what you need to do is step back and reassess your situation.
For me, I had been trying so hard to find a business idea that I couldn’t see ideas when they were smacking me in the face.
I worked with neuro patients for 8 years before this meeting I had with this patient and his wife. I had discharged hundreds of patients. I have listened to thousands of complaints. And my knee jerk reaction was to think their complaints were an attack on me.
“The food here sucks, the care sucks, you suck.”
And all I could think about was finding a business idea that would transport me away from this rat race I called a job.
So I searched and searched and searched…..
Now in nursing school we are taught all the “soft skills” like therapeutic communication and how to be empathetic. And I remember when I went to nursing school, I wanted to learn “respectable” skills like hardcore advanced microbiology (despite the fact that I got a C- in micro 101) or advanced organic chemistry (C+), because I thought that taking those classes was akin to being smart and getting respect.
But in the years of working in the hospital, I appreciate the fact that I can actually talk to people like a normal human being and that I have the totally undervalued skill of empathetic listening. And empathetic listening is exactly the one skill that changed my life.
Ok, so back to my story…where was I? Yes, so this meeting was between the anxious patient I wanted to get rid of, his seemingly crazy wife who was refusing to take him home and me.
My plan? To just sit there and take it. I thought how bad could it be. I would delve deep into my empathetic listening toolbox and just listen. And that is exactly what I did. For at least 25 minutes I heard every complaint in the book:
- about how they never saw a doctor
- the tech didn’t wash his hands
- housekeeping didn’t empty the trash
- the nurse woke up the patient to ask if he wanted a sleeping pill and
- blah blah blah.
This did sound irritating, but it really wasn’t the main issue.
I would have to continue listening to hear the real story. Finally, as the patient and his wife exhausted all their complaints about how horrible the hospital was, I asked them why they wanted to stay if it was so bad.
And this is what the patient said: “I can always tell by the look on the nurse’s face that every ache and pain I have is NOT going to cause me to die in the next second. I won’t have that security at home”.
And bam… there it was.
The patient has just been through a life-threatening experience. For the us, it was a normal everyday experience for patients to come in with some neurological condition. All the patients were in the same boat.
But for each individual patient, the experience was new, life-altering and he was literally afraid that every symptom he had might be a catastrophic end to his life.
In the hospital system, if the nurse pooh pooh’ed him or ignored him or whatever, there was a sense of relief. The impending sense of doom dissipated. At home he would be forced to deal with it, then call the office to speak to someone, only to wait 3 days to get a callback..
All he needed was a little reassurance that he wasn’t going to die from whatever symptom du jour arose at any given moment.
It seemed completely obvious to me right in that moment what my next business idea would be – and Coordinated Care was born.
I decided to set up a transitional care service for patients with neurological diseases being discharged to home who wanted to be able to call or talk to someone about what was normal/abnormal, what needed immediate attention, and what could wait.
Patients wanted reassurance. They wanted to be able to get a hold of someone quickly, not an irritated staff member 3 days later. And they just wanted someone to listen. From my years of experience and talking with patients, I knew this was a compelling problem they would happily pay for. Come to find out, it was something even insurance companies would pay for.
Your Veritable Goldmine
If you have been searching and searching for potential business ideas, or wondering what you can do as a nurse, then my advice to you is to stop searching. Instead of searching for business ideas, you need to simply listen for ideas. Every patient encounter you have is an opportunity for you to provide a solution.
Your future business needs to be a solution to a problem, but you can’t provide a solution unless you understand the problem. The only way to understand the problem is to find people with problems.
Now as a nurse, the hospital or clinic IS your veritable goldmine. What are people doing in the healthcare system? They are looking for solutions. The thing is, the solution they are getting seems to only come in tablets, capsules and pills.
Real issues are not being addressed. Real problems aren’t being solved. There is no cure for cancer or most diseases for that matter, yet people have to live with it everyday. And they have problems.
LOTS of problems.
You as the nurse have the trust factor with the patient. Patients tell us stories and fears and issues that they would never tell anyone else. We know when the married patient has a girlfriend or boyfriend, we know the father is a drunk, we know the sister is psychotic, we know that their mother just died, or they started doing drugs after their child was killed. When know when they are happy, sad, suicidal, or motivated to change.
Nurses hear everything. We hear problems all day long. We hear compelling problems all day long. Yet we are still searching for business ideas. There is a massive incongruency here.
If you can listen, and stick around through the inane, superficial complaints, to the real core issue, you can find a business idea that you can provide a solution to as a nurse.
And not a nurse with a doctorate or MBA. Any nurse can find a way to solve problems within his/her scope of practice.
You can provide solutions to the problems you hear about. The way you solve problems may depend on your scope of practice, but to say you can’t solve problems because you don’t have XYZ degree is an excuse. It’s a mental barrier.
Yes you can start a nursing business, even if….
- You have an associates degree
- You don’t have an advanced degree/MBA/Doctorate in something
- You have no business skills
- You don’t have years of experience
Advanced degrees won’t help you start a business, they won’t help you find ideas.
Ideas are right in front of you but you haven’t trained yourself to listen to them. What if you could hear the ideas and use them strategically to solve problems for your patients? What if every patient encounter you have becomes a business meeting that could leapfrog you into an entrepreneurial success?
How Your Patients Can Help You
Your patients are your ultimate source of inspiration. And if you don’t want to work with patients in your business, your nursing colleagues could be the source of inspiration or whomever. Either way, you need to find out what the core problem is.
There is a simple formula that you can use to generate ideas for a potential business with every patient encounter you have. You can have as many ideas as you possible could dream of and then some more…
Let me show you how this works.
But before I give this formula to get ideas from your patients, I want to be crystal clear about two things.
1. Creating a profitable business is not always easy and glamorous. It takes time and sometimes your initial great idea turns out to be a fluke or a patient anomaly that is a direct result of bad systems in your place of employment (an idea should generalize across your target audience and not be a result of a specific, isolated location or simply bad management).
2. Building a serious business does not happen overnight. You could very well spend weeks or months investigating ideas that are compelling. If you are simply looking to make as much money as quickly as you possibly can, then my stuff is not for you. I cannot show you how to make money in record time. I can only show you how to properly invest in yourself and your ideas to build a predictably successful business.
When you change your mentality about what a business really is, understanding that what you are doing is adding value and not being a sleazy salesman, you’ll see massive change in how you get started. I won’t just tell you this — I’ll show you.
I recently asked my students what they’ve learned about finding ideas to start their business – and the results they’ve gotten from using my material on generating ideas.
“It never occurred to me that there were so many possibilities to get started in a nursing business. I thought the only option open to me was starting an NP clinic, and I definitely didn’t want to do that.” — Lori, P.
“I had a bunch of ideas of what I wanted to do, but I didn’t really know if any of them had potential to be profitable. And then after I went through Catie’s stuff, I wasn’t convinced any of them were worth pursuing. I also realized that all my ideas came from me and what I thought people needed. Listening to what people wanted from me was a completely novel approach, that made so much sense.” — Tracy F.
“Completely natural and honest. I feel like I helped so many people by just really listening to them. I had a patient apologize for talking to me so much, and I was like, no really, you helped me. It was such a mutually satisfying conversation.” — Delphina P.
Notice how these are win-win for everyone. You’re not taking advantage of anyone. You’re not scamming people. What you will be doing is providing value first.
By letting people vent and tell you what their problems, you provide a HUGE service. Think about it, nobody has time to listen to anyone anymore. Almost nobody gives full attention. When you listen to people talk about their innermost fears and problems, you allow them to decompress. You don’t always have to provide a solution to be helpful, sometimes just listening is more therapeutic.
This is Nursing 101.
Introducing The “FIRE” Formula
I realized when I had my epiphany about Coordinated Care, that it could be a one-hit wonder. But what I came to realize after that, was that I had tons of ideas.
In contrast none of my nursing friends could come up with even a single idea. I wanted to help them discover a way to see business ideas everywhere as well, so I started thinking about how I could simplify and articulate the method I seemed to be using.
And what I came up with is this simple, easy to use formula that you can use today and get powerful results FAST.
Why am I giving you this formula?
Even though I’ve helped hundreds of students with finding clarity in their ideas, and I could keep my best material locked behind my paid courses, I wanted to give you this powerful nugget. I know that when I invest in you, and you start seeing ideas, then the ball will start rolling for aspiring NursePreneurs. More and more nurses will realize that they can do this.
Sometimes we just need a little nudge. And this is it, I want to show you that finding a business idea can be so easy. Really, it’s harder to narrow down all the great business ideas that are out there than to actually get the business moving.
The FIRE Formula is a 4-step process that will help you generate ideas for your nursing business quickly. The mnemonic stands for Frustration, Idealization, Repetition, Evaluation.
These are the 4 pieces of information that you need to collect in order to figure out if you have a good idea or not. Each of the 4 steps can also be assigned points on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “none” and 10 being “big time”.
Now you are looking for patterns, so make an effort to talk to 10-20 patients and really drill into their complaints. They will be so happy to let you hear them!
After each conversation you have, make sure you take notes in each of the following categories of the formula, and then we will score it.
Frustration – You first need to find out about what is frustrating your patients. Start by asking a question like “What is most frustrating about X?”. Then you would want to follow it up as in any conversation with questions such as – can you give me an example, why was it frustrating, how long has it been frustrating, and how have you tried to solve this problem?
Choose a number along the continuum regarding how frustrated you think the person was with their issue.
1 – not frustrated at all —2—3—4—5 annoyed—6—7—8—9—10 totally frustrated with issue
Idealization – Then you want to move into questions that are more in line with an idealized state. So ask questions such as “How do you wish things were? How would your life be different if your solutions worked or if the problem were solved?” These questions on the idealized state are very important, because it gives you a real indication of how compelling the frustration is to the person. If someone is frustrated by a problem, but haven’t thought about or don’t care about a world where it doesn’t bother them anymore then it’s not really a compelling problem and you should keep looking for other ideas.
Choose a number along the continuum regarding how much you think the person wants to achieve an idea state
1 – not interested —2—3—4—5 would be nice—6—7—8—9—10 must achieve
Repetition – Once you find a compelling problem, you want to discover how prevalent it is. If the problem only exists with one person or in one institution (i.e. as a result of poor management), then it’s not really a problem. But let’s say you start hearing a couple patients complain about something that has potential.
Then start Googling the problem and see what you come up with. You might find there is a whole world out there on the topic you never knew about. And remember, if you find competition, even if it’s a Walmart sized empire in your space, there is still room for your idea, so don’t let that discourage you. In fact it should inspire you to know that your idea can be monetized!
Choose a number along the continuum regarding how frequently the person mentioned their issue during the conversation. And then use this metric to quantify how many times other patients have mentioned the issue.
1 – you brought it up —2—3—4—5 a couple times—6—7—8—9—10 nonstop
Evaluation – Then the last step is just to evaluate all the notes you have taken. Look for patterns, remember the frustration and emotion the person displayed talking about a problem. Think about how motivated they were to find a solution and what other stuff they tried to solve their own problems. Also think about other problems that your patients brought up and analyze them the same way.
Choose a number along the continuum regarding how compelling you believe this problem is.
1 – not at all —2—3—4—5 somewhat—6—7—8—9—10 must be solved
Tally up your results from each conversation. The range can be anywhere from 4-40. If your idea scores:
4-16 Trying taking your conversations a little deeper. It may be you are only hitting the surface with patients in nice conversation. What you want to experience is that moment when the patient leans into you to tell you something like a secret. If your conversations aren’t anywhere near that level of intimacy, then you need to assess what’s going on. Are you standing over the patient talking down to him/her, are you rushing in/out of the room asking questions? Try to sit down at eye level with the patient and have a real 1:1 conversation.
17-28 You are keeping warmer and warmer. Keep searching, keep up the conversations and keep prodding along. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The best part about this is it’s completely free and you are making your patients very happy by listening to all their tales of woa.
32-40 You are really onto something here! If you have found a couple ideas that are in this category, you need to get some friends interested, because you will only have time to pursue 1 good idea at a time. Also check out the action plan below to decide which one to go with..
Now it’s your turn to get started. You can implement the FIRE Formula any time you want. Remember you are not walking around handing people business cards, and you don’t whip out a recorder or pen and paper. You are just having “real” conversations with patients. So don’t be weird about it or make it awkward. Just be yourself and be real. Then after you walk away, write down as much as you can recall. Try to put down quotes or as close to quotes as you can.
There are 3 more things to think about that will complement how you choose an idea that you need to consider. Because here’s the thing, you will find multiple business ideas pretty quickly.
How do you choose the best one? You need to choose the idea that is most compelling that also fits into your lifestyle and is congruent with your interest and your expertise. The exercise below will help you make those choices.
It’s a good idea, to complete the exercises below first, before you start having “real” conversations with people so you remember what you are really striving towards. You can more easily nix good idea if it falls outside of what you think you really want.
Pick at least ONE item to do today. In fact stop what you are doing and do it right now:
1. Pick your lifestyle
Your challenge: Before you choose the most amazing idea that you will certainly come up with, you need to decide how much time and effort you want to put into building a business. 5 hours a week? 10 hours a week? You are unemployed and ready to put in 60+ hours a week? Are you looking for a side income, a little more money, the ability to work one less shift a month or go part-time? Or do you want an empire?
You also want to determine what type of lifestyle you do or don’t want. For instance, maybe you don’t want to work 5 days a week. So choosing any idea that will require your daily physical presence (such as my gig freelancing as a first assist for neurosurgeons – I had to be there and stay for the entirety of the case), then you want to rule out those type of business ideas before getting too far into it.
Lay it out. Pick your lifestyle that you want and post it somewhere that you will see it everyday.
2. Do a brain dump
Your challenge: Think of all the things you are interested in. Divi them up into broad categories like “fitness”, “nutrition”, “fashion” or “education”. Try to come up with 10-20 broad categories of things you like. Think about what you do on your days off, what would you do if didn’t have to work as a nurse, what would you do if you were given a 1-year paid sabbatical leave from your job? What do you find yourself doing that you absolutely love? It doesn’t have to be nursing related, surely you have other interests in life (and if you don’t, I would strongly suggest you start with that deficit in your life!).
Make your list of 10-20 ideas of what you are interested in and post it next to your lifestyle choices. You want business ideas that are congruent with these two factors. It’s important!
3. The friend challenge
Your challenge: In this challenge, I want you to pick a minimum of 5 people in your life (ideally 10) and I want you to ask them the following 2 questions. Be ready to write down their responses or send an email, record the responses:
1. What do you (person in your life) think I am good at?
2. What do you see as my natural talents?
The interesting thing about this exercise is that people will tell you things that might contradict your self view or even surprise you. I’ve discovered quite a few things about myself through the perspective of other people. Also having certain skill sets reinforced is a strong motivator.
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