To survive (and thrive) in healthcare, you need a pipeline of ideas
There's this myth that entrepreneurs take great risks. It may be true while starting out. But in reality, most longterm entrepreneurs methodically de-risk. Do everything to reduce risk for their companies. Not increase it.
Several startups go belly up in risking too many eggs in one product or one investor or one client. Including some very large startups.
More times than not, market forces work against you. Not for you.
You already know this.
To survive (and thrive), you need a pipeline of ideas. Particularly in healthcare. A complicated, slow-moving beast.
Sometimes in this industry, the function of one product or service is to simply lead to the next. Or, the one after that.
In such a game, your ability to acutely focus on what clients want and will pay for is key. It'll keep your lights on.
Then when something takes off, it'll get the rest of your portfolio to take off.
A "page turner" that no one cared about
Entrepreneurs (like me) often obsess about things that no one cares about. We burn time and money on those obsessions.
When we first built our enki electronic health record (EHR), the mobile version excited us. One of the doctors we interviewed indicated that he'd love for the EHR to resemble his paper charts.
We took that feedback to heart. Spent inordinate amount of resources in building that feedback into a feature in our mobile app. Each section of the patient’s chart would flip like a real page. It looked great and we loved it!
But our clients really didn’t care much for that feature. All that mattered to doctors was the ability to complete a chart quickly. Move onto the next patient. Flipping a page was lower in the order of priorities.
This “page-turner” and other features delayed our launch endlessly. We spent our time making our creation more and more beautiful (not just “good enough” to move onto the next step). It left no money or time for marketing.
Thankfully we had other sources of revenue that kept us going. Even while we learnt from these mistakes and built our next product or service. And the next.
What we now observe is one service or product often triggers our clients to buy our other products. Because they already love us and what we do. Now many of our clients use everything we've built.
Allow them take complete advantage of you
Say you wish to start a smart footwear company for senior citizens. The sensors would alert an app when there are abnormalities in mobility.
Instead of running after funding first, spend $500 online. Buy sensors and strap it to footwear. Figure out how to send basic signals to your phone. Build a prototype that your potential buyers can use.
Then just give it to your customers to use it. And watch.
Your beta users will show you what they like and dislike.
If you listen keenly, they will exactly tell you what they will pay for.
Focus on what they want versus what you want.
Observe your users (senior citizens in this example) and their environment. So closely that you know them more than they know themselves.
Ask yourself this question: How can they take complete advantage of you?
You will be surprised with the number of ideas you would get when you answer that question. Because you would be bringing the focus to them.
May be there are caregivers and doctors who have certain needs in monitoring your customer. Or, may be there’s everyday furniture that can become smarter. Or, may be there's a need for "smart" walking canes that sense movement.
May be, the footwear needs to connect with other devices giving richer analysis of data. Or, you could develop a subscription plan and offer the footwear free.
You'll arrive at endless possibilities for growth. When you bring all your attention to your customers. They will tell you what you need to build next. You simply need to listen and respond. With everything you got.
Never run out of ideas
A tree with many roots doesn't get blown away when the winds are strong.
Not only do the roots keep it grounded, they also provide renewed sources of water. If one root dries out, it can feed itself from another. Roots run long and source water from many different terrains.
Successful healthcare businesses are no different. Longevity helps in this industry. With experience, you will find many sources of revenues. One product leads to another. One service evolves into many branches.
All you have to do is listen. And respond to your sources of water.