Lessons from Running a Healthcare Startup
It is important that services and touch points in a business are built with this thought process
Leaving the security of a well-paying job to start an online business creates a powerful paradigm shift in one’s life. You are hitched to a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs – exhilaration one moment, dejection the other. You live a lifetime in a few short years, driven by the urge to do something beyond the proverbial 9-to-5 job.
Nothing blows cobwebs of the mind better than being on one’s own feet for daily survival. Turning into an entrepreneur triggers a sea change in one’s thinking, and reshapes the way you look at the world.
Here are some valuable lessons for healthcare startups:
It’s all about trust
Trust is the foundation of any business, more so of a startup in a critical area like healthcare. After all, decisions related to their health are the most important ones that people can make in their lives.
Consumers need to trust a business before they are willing to shell out money and become paying customers. It is important that services and touchpoints in a business are built with this thought process. Entrepreneurs need to spend a lot of time identifying and setting up value-adds for their customers.
It takes a lot of time to set up such a business, but once done, it lasts long, as it builds a momentum of its own. When a business begins, it may take months to find its first paying customer. Later, customers become their ambassadors and help spread the good word about the company. Referrals account for a huge chunk of any good business.
Challenges bring their own opportunity
Every set of business has its own set of challenges, but they also bring opportunity. Take the example of an online medical value travel business like ours. Medical tourism is a global phenomenon, with patients hailing from different countries. This creates its own set of challenges, including geography, languages, cultures, visa issues, etc. It is not easy to scale up operations. Precisely for this reason, creating a medical tourism business on a global scale is also a huge greenfield opportunity.
Consider the statistics: more than 11 million people from over 100 countries travel to about 15 countries every year for medical treatment. Technology can play a key role in organizing this sector and make it easier for patients to make informed choices. Challenges, therefore, are the flipside of opportunities – both come together.
Building business on paper is different from execution
When a new business gets started, things take time to click, despite how promising it may have looked in the business plan. Perseverance is the key. It is important to keep going, despite initial hardships. The team you put together is crucial in the success of your business. Half the battle is won if you have people in the team who can deliver better than anyone else.
While scaling a business, entrepreneurs would meet many people offering to work with them. The key learning here is to pick up only those who can give 100% to the partnership, or it will only add to inefficiencies in the company. Dropping big names, vouching about one’s network of contacts, potential business numbers – all these don’t matter if the partner is not running with you shoulder to shoulder.
Important to visualize revenue streams
People may have a strong need for a product or service like yours, but is your business the one that will be chosen by them for making a purchase? The market size may be huge out there, but what unique value proposition do you bring to the table that customers will come to you?
It is important to clearly visualize revenue streams for your business. You should know where you fit in the value chain, who is going to pay you, how much will you be paid, and what is the amount of money needed to survive, to grow or to grow fast.
Attitude is infectious
Attitude is everything, and it is infectious. As an entrepreneur and leader, your attitude affects your team too. Be optimistic and say to yourself that things are good, even if you had a bad day. It keeps you and the people around you motivated.
Manish Chandra, an IIM Lucknow alumni, is the Co-founder of Vaidam Health , a medical-tourism firm that has brought 1,200 surgeons and specialists on one single online platform from 70 best hospitals across India. It today caters to foreign patients from 60 countries.