Dr. Una from EntreMD has the lofty goal of helping 80,000 doctors build profitable businesses. That’s why I sat down with her to learn exactly why so many physicians are well-suited for entrepreneurship. In our conversation, we explore these traits, and we also talk about some of the common pitfalls physician entrepreneurs may face. Plus, we dive into the concept of intrapreneurship.
Some of the traits that transfer into entrepreneurship include our ability to problem solve and our persistence. As physicians, we solve problems for people daily. In a single day, we solve sometimes dozens and sometimes hundreds of problems. That means that we are often in the perfect position to identify a common issue and offer a solution on a larger scale through entrepreneurship.
Moreover, physicians are persistent. Not only do we persist through medical school where we learn and apply vast amounts of knowledge, we weather so many challenges tirelessly as we practice medicine. This same grit and determination makes physicians well-suited to deal with many of the challenges that face new and seasoned entrepreneurs alike.
However, there are some traits and tendencies of physicians that also need to be overcome. Perfectionism serves us well in the medical practice. All throughout med school, we pursue excellence. That pursuit of excellence stays with us as we practice medicine. However, perfectionism can really impede progress in entrepreneurship. Many times, entrepreneurship means learning how to get out of your own way and being comfortable with mistakes.
As you wrestle with perfectionism, you also want to make sure that you start to get comfortable with the idea of selling. Oftentimes, we think of selling as something scammy or unsavory. That’s simply not the case. Physicians sell all the time. We sell our patients on our expertise and treatment options. In our personal lives, we sell to friends and family alike. That is why entices people to want to maintain relationships with us. Selling is really about offering solutions to possible problems. By doing that, you are providing an invaluable service, not unlike when you practice medicine.
In addition to entrepreneurship, physicians may also consider being an intrapreneur. In this day and age, job security might seem like a distant memory. The news is full of reports of job cuts, furloughs, and more. By becoming an intrapreneur who creates incredible value within your company, you position yourself into having real staying power. Plus, if you do find yourself looking for new work--either out of necessity or choice--you will find many more doors open to you.
Ultimately, entrepreneurship may not be the right move for every physician. But it is definitely something worth considering, especially for people who are interested in really having freedom and control over their earning and their day-to-day lives.
In this episode, we also explore:
- A dive into why entrepreneurship is the great leveler
- A case study of a female physician intrapreneur
- How entrepreneurship can be the ultimate motivator in the face of storms
- Takeaways from Apple in terms of their marketing budget and all the different versions of the iPhone
- Why it’s impossible to be taken advantage of when you’re cultivating the right skills
- What Dr. Una’s life looks like now as a physician and an entrepreneur
Featured on this episode:
Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast—a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast, you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to uplevel your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.
Welcome back. I am super excited for today's episode. I have a very special guest. I have Dr. Una today. I have Dr. Una because we are going to talk about entrepreneurship. This is a money podcast, but entrepreneurship is definitely about money. And we're going to specifically talk about the traits that physicians have that actually set them up to win as an entrepreneur. And we're going to talk about some of the common pitfalls that Dr. Una and I see over and over again.
So back in an earlier episode, I think it was Episode Four, I talk about thinking beyond your clinical income. Now, more than ever, it's so important for physicians to arm themselves and to embrace entrepreneurship. One thing I love about this episode with Dr. Una is that we're not just talking about doctors getting side gigs, but how important it is for employed physicians to also embrace entrepreneurship and become an intrapreneur. I think you're really going to love this episode, so let's get going. All right. So here's Dr. Una.
- UNA: Thank you for having me. I'm super excited to be on today.
BONNIE: Yeah, I'm super excited about this topic. I love talking about entrepreneurship and generally on this podcast, I'm talking about personal finance, but I know a lot of my listeners either have a side gig or they're interested in starting one, and most of my listeners are physicians. So I thought it'd be really fun to do an episode to kind of talk about why doctors make great entrepreneurs and also why doctors don't make good entrepreneurs. Because it's kind of a double edged sword. I think we have some amazing skills, but then we have some skills that work against us, right?
- UNA: Yeah, we'd definitely do.
BONNIE: So for those who don't know you, can you just tell us a bit about yourself and what you do, et cetera?
- UNA: My full name is Nneka Unachukwu and everybody calls me Una for obvious reasons. Even my sister calls me Una, but I'm a pediatrician by training and I did the traditional thing a doctor would do. So I went to med school, then went to residency and then got a job and I was supposed to work my amazing job until I retired. And this series of events happened and I ended up starting my own practice, which is proof that ignorance is bliss because knowing what I now know, maybe I wouldn't have done it. And I started my practice and realized that I had enrolled in the school of hard knocks because I didn't know anything about entrepreneurship. And I was an introvert who was shy and socially awkward. So everything that would make a business work was something that I was scared of doing. So I didn't want to put myself out there. I didn't want to market it. I didn't want to do any of that, but the business is here now. What am I going to do?
So I had to enroll in the school of entrepreneurship and learn how to become a business person, which is a completely different skill from being a physician. And I eventually got to that point where I had an aha moment. I was like, “Wait a minute. This is a learnable skill.” Business skills are learnable skills, just like clinical skills are. And I was like, “I wonder how many Dr. Unas are out there who have started businesses who can’t make it work just because they don't know what to do?” And I was like, “I'm going to help them figure it out.” And that's why I founded EntreMD. Then I started helping doctors learn how to build profitable businesses. So here we are.
BONNIE: First of all, I love that you're a pediatrician and you're an entrepreneur because I don't mean to pick on my pediatrician friends, but I feel like pediatricians and some other specialties that are traditionally lower paying, have big money hangups and feel like they can't have the money they want or the wealth that they want because of their specialty. And I feel like you're such a great example of thinking outside the box and using your knowledge because personally, as I think you're a parent too, I think pediatricians have some of the highest value knowledge because there's no parent who won't pay whatever they should pay to help their kids.
- UNA: Right. And that's the beautiful thing about entrepreneurship is the great leveler. So all of a sudden it doesn't matter what your specialty is. Once you put those business skills around, whatever you do, you can choose what you earn.
BONNIE: Let's start with the good stuff. Well, I think you kind of actually sort of said it already. I think one of the reasons why doctors make great entrepreneurs is because we naturally want to help people.
- UNA: And at the end of the day, that is all a business is about. It's about helping people. Now making the money is the financial reward, or it's actually the thank you note for helping people. But at our core, the reason why we do the medical track is not to make money, but it's because we want to help people. I actually did a poll in a Facebook group that I'm a part of: “Why did you go to medical school?” And 90% of the people gave some variation of “I saw this problem and I wanted to help solve it and that's why I became a physician.” So naturally we're helpers. So we can literally come out with a hundred business ideas because we love to help. That makes this so easy.
BONNIE: And then this actually ties in perfectly with the next thing I see is because of the nature of our jobs, at least for most physicians, I guess pathologists don't necessarily talk to people all day, but we are literally talking to people all day long. And so I think that makes us naturally good at communication. And also we're sort of doing, in some ways, market research. Now I know not all doctors are going to create businesses that relate to their specialty, but a lot of us do. And so we just start hearing the sort of thing over and over and we're like, “Huh!” and we're also natural problem solvers. So I feel like every physician has probably thousands of business ideas already inside their head.
- UNA: Yeah. And you know, I love that you said we're natural problem solvers because that's what we do. Think about the family medicine doctor who is seeing 25 patients per day. Those people are not coming into the office except to have their problem solved. So literally we solved those 25 problems. Well, not really 25 for 25 people because they could have come with three problems each, but were used to solving problems. And again, a business is designed to solve a problem and you get paid for doing it. And we're really trained. We're really good at doing that.
I think one of the other things though is we have an extraordinary capacity to learn. Extraordinary. I mean think about the size of our books, right? And then think about the skills we had to learn. And every stage you have a new skill thrown at you. Figure this out. It’s a spinal tap on a newborn. Figure it out. You have to intubate this 24 week. I mean, we're so good at acquiring skills. So yes, the business world is different. Yes, we have to learn new things, but they're skills and we're great at learning them.
BONNIE: Yeah. Oh my God. If you want to see these dermatology books, I mean, I still don't understand some of the words to be honest. It’s so much information, but it's such a good point because even like when it comes to personal finances, you know, money, I hear so many women say it's too hard or it's too much, but they forget that they are physicians and the amount of knowledge to become a physician in whatever specialty is nowhere near as hard as money. And actually feel like maybe the same for business as well. Business, I don't think is as hard. It's definitely a different skill. What do you think?
- UNA: I don't think it's nearly as hard. I think there's just the confusion. So let me explain what I think this confusion is. When I was done with my medical training, I did what a lot of people do. I'm done. I am done with having to throw myself at learning new stuff. Right? So I'm going to maintain certification and do all this stuff, but I'm done. So there's this rude shock. Like everything you did in your clinical training gave you zero training for the business world. In fact, it may have hurt your ability to do well in business a little bit, not intentionally, but a little bit.
So it's just this rude thing of “Wait a minute. I have to go learn a new thing?” So I think that throws us off. So we think, “Oh, this was supposed to come so easily. I'm just supposed to start a practice for instance. And I'll just know how to run it.” I'm like, “Nah, I mean, it will be somewhat easy for you to learn what you need to do, but you aren't going to have to commit to learn.”
This is not by osmosis. You know what I'm saying? So I think there's just that “I think I got it all.” And yeah, no, no, no, not yet.
BONNIE: Doctors are actually notoriously known for thinking we know everything, unfortunately.
- UNA: You know a lot but not everything. Yeah.
BONNIE: And then I think it's crazy--and you probably agree with me--that medical school doesn't prepare doctors to start their own practices.
- UNA: Actually, if I may say this and I'll start off by saying, I love the medical training. I think it's a really great profession. And I think the schools do their best. But I do think that we learn how not to do private practice. And the reason why I say that is because we have no exposure to anything but the clinical side.
So think about it. As a resident, you go in, you go to the clinic, you walk into the room, you see the patient, you leave, and you're done. But it doesn't occur to you that the hospital had to pay a PR person to go to all the private practices and say, “Hey, you guys need to come over here. We are a new site, we just started.” You're protected from that. You're protected from the hiring and firing process. You're protected from, “Oh, you have to pay a copay.” We have no money conversations, which once you to start a private practice, you will have to have a lot of those conversations. At the back end, we don't know what it's like to fight with insurances to get paid and all of that stuff.
So it's almost like you have a seventh of the process that you've touched. And then when you start in private practice, like, “Wait a minute, what is all this?”
BONNIE: Yeah. A few sort of forward thinking medical schools that I know of are starting to incorporate some sort of business and money curriculum. I mean, it's so needed. And especially, I feel like in this day and age, because I feel like I'm not a historian by any means, but I think 20 years ago it was just a different time in terms of a physician can hang up their own shingle and these days it is harder. I think there's just more challenges with the insurance landscape. And unfortunately, I think there's a big push for physicians to just become employees and not start their own practice. But that's a whole other conversation.
- UNA: Sure is.
BONNIE: Yeah. Any other traits that you think make doctors well suited for being an entrepreneur? So far we've talked about the fact that we are great learners and have a great capacity to learn. I mentioned how we talk to people all day. We're natural problem solvers. We're sort of already doing some market research. What else?
- UNA: We have the ability to persist in the face of challenges. Think about our training. It is hard and long. And you invariably come up against storms. Maybe you were sick, but you still had to figure it out. Maybe you had family challenges. You still have to figure it out. Maybe you thought this great attendee will write you a great letter and you got a crappy letter. Or you took the MCAT and you didn't pass it. I mean, there's so many things that go on, but you see physicians were a decade at it and we're still like, “I'm going to get there.” We weather storms.
And as entrepreneurs, I mean, you're an entrepreneur. You're probably already laughing because it's all about challenges. It's all about how much pain are you willing to take? It's all about are you going to stand in the midst of a setback in the midst of a storm? Because it's all about obstacles, but we're great at doing that. We're amazing at doing that. So that trait alone is something that puts us in a position where we could be very successful as entrepreneurs.
BONNIE: Yeah. That's such a good point. We are masters at delayed gratification, right?
- UNA: We are.
BONNIE: I think what I find though, is some people are sick of this delayed gratification and they can't do it anymore or they kind of forgot that they were able to endure that. And the thought of doing it again, kind of like what you're saying earlier about the whole, “Oh, I thought I was done with learning.”
- UNA: And you know, I think we had a solid vision. Right? Think about someone in high school saying, “I'm going to be a surgeon.” That's the lofty dream. Right? You know, high school and I'm going to be this person. I'm going to be doing knee replacements in a decade and stuff like that. I think after we're done with that, we don't set lofty goals anymore. Right? It's kind of like, we don't mean to think that way, but I've arrived. I've done what I wanted to do. I'll also kind of sort of do this business, right?
So that's the issue there. Well, what if we had another lofty goal? So for instance, my goal is to help 80,000 doctors build profitable businesses. And that is what keeps me going. Even when there are setbacks because I have this lofty thing that I'm trying to do. So I'm not letting one itty bitty storm upset me. I'm not letting the storm get me off track because I'm going somewhere. You know what I mean? So I think for physicians, we have to reconnect with what it is that we're trying to do. We need to set another vision that's big enough to drive us in the face of storms. Because if I'm kind of just doing this thing, then every storm becomes annoying because you're like, I don't have time for this. You know what I'm saying?
BONNIE: Basically, really get clear as to why you're starting a business. It's definitely not a thing you just kind of do just for the hell of it.
- UNA: No, no, no. It's too hard for that. But if you have a dream, it's not too hard.
BONNIE: Yes. That's such a great analogy. All right. So let's move on to some pitfalls, shall we?
DR. UNA: Yeah, let's do it.
BONNIE: Okay. One pitfall I sort of see is actually, this is a perfect segue to what you just said. I think because becoming an attending is like a vision. You kind of know where you're going and there's also like a set framework. Obviously every residency is different and there's different careers within medicine, academics that are, but generally speaking, there's like a pretty much direct path.
But I think with entrepreneurship there isn't, and it's kind of up to you to kind of create that vision. Like, you actually get to pick the goal. It's not like a predetermined goal, like attending, et cetera. And so I think I see people get hung up with, they don't know what to pick and even if they have picked, they don't know how to get there because there isn't like one way to get there, and then they get confused and overwhelmed.
- UNA: And I see that too. And I'd probably say I experienced that too. We're used to a roadmap, a checklist, an algorithm, a blueprint. And that's the thing with most doctors, why we make great entrepreneurs. I will do it. Just show me what to do. Right? But then the problem becomes, there's so many paths that will take you there. And for a better way to describe it, you kind of have to get comfortable with chaos, comfortable with not being completely clear on the steps that will take you. Comfortable taking the next step and figuring the next step after that is very weird for a doctor because we're used to complete order and entrepreneurship is not quite like that.
BONNIE: You just gave me an idea. I wonder if there's been a poll of like, cause I know they've studied, like which personality types generally gravitate towards certain specialties. So I'm sure we can extrapolate that data to see which ones are, I don't want to say best suited, but more likely to pursue entrepreneurs. I'm sure there's like some specialties that are more suited for them.
- UNA: Well, I mean, from what I see, maybe it's not so much the personality, but it's just the nature of what they do. Like if you're a plastic surgeon or you're a dermatologist, if you're going to grow what you do regardless, you're going to have to engage some kind of business principles as opposed to if you're in primary care, especially if you're in a hospital setting or so where everything's kind of laid out for you in a certain way.
I think some specialties, you just have to do a lot more like marketing and promotion and stuff like that, which is cool if you have to.
BONNIE: It's definitely learnable skill actually. Perfect segue into the next thing. I think a lot of doctors are uncomfortable with selling and marketing.
- UNA: You have to say that, right? Yeah. And again, I think it's because we are not exposed to it. So we have this feeling, this is what I hear a lot of doctors say. “I started this service. I created this course and I know it will help a lot of people, but I can get clients and I'm not going to market it because if it's good enough, people will come.” And I'm like, Apple spent $1.8 billion in digital advertising alone, and they're a great company. So if they need to market, we all have to do that.
So we're so far away from it. So you hear a lot of people say, “I hate being sold to, I hate selling.” And I'm like, “You're always selling.” If you got someone to marry you, you sold them on it. If you got your two year old to stop having a temper tantrum in the middle of Walmart, you sold them on it. If you got someone to give you a job, what's the job interview? It’s you selling them why I'm the person for the job. So it’s just when we bring in money, then everybody kind of gets weird about it. I tell doctors, you want to embrace selling, okay? So you can have a best written book or a best selling book. Some of the best written books, we will never read because they were not sold. So if you do not add selling to your great skill, then you end up being the world's best kept secret.
If you truly want to help people, then you owe them to sell. Now, when we think selling, we think weird things like this, manipulation, pressure, right? Sleazy car salesman. That's what we think about when we hear selling. But the truth of the matter is that if you're selling, what you're doing is you're helping someone who has a problem see that this is the answer to their problem, right?
There's someone out there crying, going, “Man, I started this business. It's not working. I'm not able to make money from it. I'm having to take locum shifts to pay the expenses of the business.” I'm here and I help people build profitable businesses. Right? So selling is telling this person who's looking for help for their problem, “Hey, I have the answer and I'm here.” It's really a service. It's not a bad thing.
BONNIE: Yeah. Such a beautiful way to describe it. And actually maybe we've read the same book, but you just reminded me of something when you said best written versus best-selling because Robert Kiyosaki talks about that. Is that where you heard that from too?
- UNA: Yeah. Yeah. That's where I heard it from the first time.
BONNIE: Yes. For those who are listening who have no idea what we were talking about, Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad--which is an amazing book about money--he talks about how some, I forget the exact scenario, but he was talking to some woman who I think wants to write a book or something. And she had a problem with selling and he pointed out that his book was not the number one best written book, but it was the number one bestselling book. And then she got really upset. She got really mad.
I think that is definitely a challenge for a lot of us to get over. What helps me, Dr. Una, is whenever I get stuck in my mind about selling or et cetera, I always try to remember that I'm providing a service and to really think about the person I'm helping, because it's like, if you don't get out there and sell whatever you're selling the solution to someone's problem, then I think of it as like there's someone out there who can't get help because you're too afraid to sell.
Dr. UNA: Yeah. You're in your own way. And like, what you do is amazing. I mean, think of the number of doctors who have financial pressures and you haven't quite figured that out. And they're like, “I wish someone could just show me what to do.” You know what I mean? So like, what you're saying is me selling is serving them, you know? Because they're already looking for that. They're already having a hard time, you know? So that's great.
BONNIE: Your turn, another pitfall that you see among doctors when it comes to business.
- UNA: My favorite one: perfectionism. Oh my goodness. Right? I'll tell you a funny story. I knew that I should start doing video for my practice because I'm like, it's low hanging fruit. Nobody's doing it. Come out here. I'm the pediatrician and blah, blah, blah. And this was years ago. It took me two years, two years from when I knew that I should to when I did it. And the reason was because I don't have the perfect camera. I don't have perfect lighting. I can't talk like these other people. Long story short. I saw someone do the crappiest video ever, but she had over 300 people watching her video live as she was growing her business with this really crappy video. And I said, “You know what? Forget it.” I called my daughter. I pulled up a chair, put it by the wall called her, said hit that red button. She was eight or nine years at the time. And I recorded my first video. I had found some hair. It wasn't perfect. My lighting was awful. I mean it’s an eight year old is a, you know, shaky hand and all that stuff. And I took that video, uploaded it to YouTube, to Facebook. I was like, “There you go. My worst video ever is done. My only job from here is to get better. Right?”
Perfectionism is something I see all the time, which by our medical training, we have to be right. We should shoot for the A+, the 100%, and all of that. So as a physician, an A is required. As an entrepreneur, we want your B work, which means do the best you can as of right now. And then your job is to keep making it better.
If you think about the iPhone, for instance, imagine if they waited for the iPhone 11 before releasing their first phone, right? That would be insane. So they released the iPhone 1, which is the best they can do at the time, put it out in the marketplace. The market was like, “Oh my God, we love it. But could you make this little change, a little change, a little change.” And the next year they make an iPhone 2 and the next year, they rinse and repeat that process. So your job as an entrepreneur, you're going to have to unlearn the A for the nonclinical stuff and start focusing on putting out your best work. And your life's journey is going to be, how do I make this better and then better and then better. You have to get rid of perfectionism. So my favorite quote is “Perfection is not required, only progress.”
BONNIE: Yeah. And I think, you know, I was at a conference and I'm going to butcher his name, Brendon Buchard. He's one of those high performance coaches. He was talking about perfectionism, and how by definition, you can't perfect something, unless it's first been released into the world. You have to release it and then perfect it. And then Brooke Castillo of the Life Coach School where I trained, you know, she says B minus work will change the world. She's like, “You know what won’t change the world? Work that you never put out there because you're so worried about it being perfect.”
But I think I like how you Bs. I think for most physicians, a B- was like cringe. Right? All right. I think that's what's really tough is I find myself in the situation because I re-recorded most of my course. And of course I want to re-record it now.
- UNA: Well, you've put out two versions.
BONNIE: Yeah. I've made some significant changes from version one, which is kind of like what you just said. I keep making changes based on feedback.
- UNA: Yeah. That's cool. That's great.
BONNIE: But my next hurdle is video. So we'll have to talk offline about doing more direct to camera work because I've shied away from that personally. One thing that can kind of trip us up is not having a blueprint in front of us or a clear goal. We talked about perfectionism and talked about selling.
- UNA: Yeah. I think part of the issue with the whole roadmap thing, this is probably a spinoff of that is we have this track, right? High school then do really well so you can get into a good premed program and then get into med school and do really well. So we can get a good residency program and then work till you retire. And it's almost like you can’t deviate from the plan, right? It's almost like we have this box that we're in and you can't come out of the box.
And I tell doctors, the lid is not real. You know what I mean? The lid is not real. You can do whatever it is you want to do. You have followed a prescription for over a decade. Now that you're an attending, now that you're done with your training, whatever it is you want to do, do that.
For instance, I don't do any cookie cutter stuff. I've had a client that's like, “I work for a practice. I just know there's more and I want to do more.” Okay. Do you want to start your own practice? No, no. I love my practice. I just want to do more. I'm like, “You're unique, but okay. Let's do it.” And she starts off her YouTube channel for the practice, which makes the practice, you know, it positions them really nicely in the community. She’s got a mailing list for the practice. She launches telemedicine for the practice. She speaks in the community. I mean, her boss is like, “I would love to make you partner, right? And let's change your workdays because this is amazing.” So she's an intrapreneur, she's working a job, but she's still doing all this other stuff and having a blast doing it.
So you can get out of the box, whatever you want to do, we can monetize it and you can do it, but we don't have to follow a prescription anymore. So you help people with finance. And that's great. That's out of the box and that's fine. I helped doctors build profitable businesses is out of the box. The others, I help doctors figure out student debts. That's out of the box. I mean, whatever, but we don't have to stay in the box.
BONNIE: Yeah. Now it's such a great thing that you said, I love that example you gave about the intrapreneur because I think that is a great example of an employee just like giving immense value to her employer, right?
- UNA: Yes.
BONNIE: And so I see a lot of doctors struggling with, they feel boxed in. Even if you and I can tell them the box, isn't even real. I think there's something safe about staying in that box, even though the box is kind of like killing them slowly if that makes sense. Like not really, obviously.
- UNA: Yeah. And the thing about that boxes before it was just, you know, okay, so maybe you don't live out your full potential and now that's actually dangerous, right? Because we have to compete in ways that we've never had to compete before. I mean, you have doctors being laid off, you have doctors being furloughed. You have doctors being replaced by nurse practitioners. You have more competition. You're talking, I don't know about you.
I never thought Minute Clinic would be my competition. Like when I was training, I didn't think CVS and Walmart, you know what I'm saying? Like it's up to us to build our brands and build businesses so we can weather whatever is coming. Because we don't know what that's going to look like. For instance, if they're going to lay off 50% of the physicians in your practice or hospital or whatever, why won’t you be laid off? Right?
But if you're the person who recognizes, I'm a brand, I work for Me Incorporated. I'm building my own brand out. There are patients who are coming just because of me. If for any reason you let me go, there'll be 10 people lined up to go who will go find that cool doctor who is now available. “I want her in my practice.” You see what I'm saying? There are doctors who have built such a community presence that if they show up in somebody's office, they're going to be busy. Like they're going to be at capacity from week one. People don't fire those kinds of doctors. You see what I'm saying?
Like we work for us. Even if you're an employed physician, you have to be an intrapreneur. You can't leave that up to chance. You can't just go in the office, see patients, not care about anything else, and leave. I think now it's dangerous. Before it used to be ehhhhh, you could get away with it. Now it is dangerous.
BONNIE: I don't think I've ever thought of it that way, but it's so true. And it's, you know, before I became an entrepreneur, I will say I was guilty of being that employee that just thought I could just show up and do my job and get paid. And you know, when the patients weren't coming, I blame the employer, which now that I know, what I know is like, it's not my employer's job to make sure that I get paid. Even though most people would say it is their job. But whatever, if you take the stance, like it's not my problem or it's not my responsibility then, you know…
- UNA: I've had people say, but what if they don't pay me for what I'm doing? I'm doing all this extra stuff. They're just taking advantage of me. The truth of the matter is if you work for You Inc., nobody can ever take advantage of you because these are portable skills that you're building. They're yours to keep. And anywhere you go, you take them like the doctor I told you about. Now she knows how to rock video. Now she knows how to build a following in the community. Now she knows how to set up a telemedicine. Those are hers. You can't take it away from her.
So what you want to do as an employee doctor, who is an intrepreneurial, is you want to create a win-win situation where you're doing things that will build your personal brand will also be of immense value to the place where you work so they treat you well. If they don't, somebody else will, but they cannot take advantage of you.
BONNIE: Oh, so good. You know, my first job out of residency was. In a residency program, I would tell my residents to purchase their domain name during residency. So they owned it because even if they became an employee, they should still build their personal brand as well.
- UNA: Good for them. Good.
BONNIE: I'm sure not all of them did, but I own Dr. Bonnie Koo.com. I don't use them, but I bought them because I don't want anyone else owning them.
- UNA: That is so cool.
BONNIE: Who knows? At some point I might open something, but it just felt like...And plus my name is pretty unique, so it'd be weird to someone like have that name, but you just never know these days. I feel like people just shop for names and just squat.
Dr. UNA: I mean, you're doing great stuff. So someone could easily go like, “Oh, I'm just going to take the name and someday she'll pay me 10 grand or 20 grand for it.”
BONNIE: Yeah. So anything else you think our physician entrepreneurs should know?
- UNA: I would say this is the best journey ever. Now when you first start off, maybe you're in the beginning phase and you're like, “I don't get it. It's hard. I don't know what I don't know.” I just want to encourage you to chase this journey, to give it the time to give it the effort to give it the investment that it deserves.
Because as doctors, we chase this profession, but our hearts, we wanted to help. Right? So Dr. Bonnie, I'm sure you agree with me. Like what you do, helping women physicians, it must feel like you've never worked. Like even though on the days when you have long days, the excitement of being able to help people is like a permanent high, right? And you get to get financially rewarded for it and you get to choose how much you want to earn and you get to choose how much you're going to work. I mean, it's amazing. So it's what I do. I never feel like I'm working and to see people's lives unfold with all the great things happening. It's amazing. It's worth the chase.
It’s work. It will keep you out of your comfort zone. It will make you do things you've never done before. It will make you invest in yourself in ways you've never invested before, but it is the best thing. So just do it, embrace it. And it's your ticket to live the life you want?
You know, I always said when I turned 40, I want to retire. Retire, meaning I see patients because I want to. I see patients one day a week because that's what I want to do. I have four children. So I do a lot of work from home. I hang with the kids. I focus on the business side of the practice, marketing, and all that stuff. And I'm just loving it. It's amazing. Just do it. It's so cool.
BONNIE: So good. So good. I feel exactly the same way. I had no idea that you could literally do whatever you wanted. And that sounds like I'm joking when I say that, but that's literally what's available if you're willing to do the work and step outside your comfort zone. You can carve out the day you want. You know, I live in a high rise building with a pool, and now that the weather has been nicer, I've been going outside and sitting at the pool and doing some work there. And you know..
- UNA: You do that too. That is so cool. I said my front porch outside. I'm like, my neighbors must think I'm crazy. I just pull out my computer and sit basking in the sun.
BONNIE: Yeah. And then it would always have Jack here. Someone is with his grandma, but we'll go for a little swim at lunchtime. And I can do that because I create my own hours and people, I think sometimes look at people like you and I, and think it's impossible, but it's really not. And it's nowhere near as hard as their journey. It’s a different type of challenge. Like we've sort of said earlier, but I think it's totally available to all physicians if they just kind of take a chance.
- UNA: Yeah. And actually, since you said that, let me say this to your listeners. If you feel like, “Wow, that's good for Bonnie and Dr. Una, they can do that kind of stuff. But I can't.” When I started off as an entrepreneur, I knew nothing about anything. I was so introverted that I would not have conversations with anybody. If I made the mistake of going for an event where there were people, I would corner one person so I can talk to them and nobody would go like, “Oh, I need to talk to her because she seems like she's not talking to anyone.” I mean, that's how bad it was. And I wouldn’t market my practice. I wouldn't do anything. Google was my best friend. I read 52 books a year to figure this stuff out. Like I knew nothing about nothing. So if you're thinking that, I'm proof that if you don't know anything, you can learn it. You know what I mean? And before you were a doctor, you weren't a doctor. You had to learn it. You can learn this too, and you can rock it and you can build the financial freedom that you deserve is good.
BONNIE: Yeah, same here. I had no business knowledge. And one thing I do want to say is a lot of people will look at my bio and see that I worked at Morgan Stanley before medical school. And they think that, “Oh, she's got this like business or like money background.” I was the IT person, okay? I fixed computers. I worked for Morgan Stanley. I wasn't one of their bankers. I definitely was not one of their business people. Because people think like, “Oh, but you have this background in money.” That's why I'm like, “No, actually I was horrible with money. Like up until the year before I finished residency, I was a disaster.”
So I think it just goes to show that exactly, it's a learnable skill. Every physician can learn this skill because we know that you're capable of learning. And so I totally agree. I think if you have an idea, then you just have to find some people and find the right people to surround yourself with. Definitely listen to EntreMD Podcast. We'll put links to her podcast. You specifically help physician entrepreneurs too, right?
- UNA: Yes. I help physicians build profitable businesses. That's what I do. And whether you're employed or you own a private practice or you are doing nonmedical business, as long as you identify as an entrepreneur, I'm your girl.
BONNIE: Awesome. Well, thanks so much for being on the show. This was super fun.
- UNA: Thank you for having me.
If you're a woman physician who is ready to take control of your money, you've got to check out my program Money for Women Physicians. It's part course and part group coaching and a hundred percent guaranteed to put more money in your pocket. Go to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.
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