So, you’re working at a clinic where you’re not completely happy.
I’ve been there, and well… it sucks. There’s no simpler way to put it.
As a result, you might be thinking you’d like to kickstart your practice into high gear.
Worst of all, you’ve got this burning desire to do something special that won’t go away. You’ve had a great practice idea for a couple of years but haven’t done anything with it. You’re concerned it won’t make enough money and it will end up being an expensive hobby. Your mom thinks it’s a good idea but she’s doesn’t really count because you’re not going to charge her.
You might afraid that you’re going to be stuck in factory-like therapy jobs churning out patients for the rest of your life.
So where do you turn to for sustainable practice growth?
Large brands like PepsiCo and McDonalds have turned to crowdsourcing strategies to help their businesses win in the marketplace. It can be an effective way to test out ideas while keeping costs low. Some of you may have participated in a Kickstarter or GoFundMe crowdfunding to help bring a creative project to life.
In today’s world, it seems like crowdsourcing an idea, product, or cause is everywhere. But to traditional healthcare professionals, using crowdsourcing as a growth strategy probably means you need to have your head examined. Afterall we’re the experts, we know what our patients need, isn’t that what we get paid for–diagnose problems and deliver solutions.
Hold your horses, not so fast kemosabe!
Why not use the power of crowdsourcing in healthcare? Sites like PatientsLikeMe, a personalized health network has more than 500,00 members is helping people learn treatment options not directly from medical experts but from other people with similiar conditions.
PatientsLikeMe helps people connect with others who know firsthand what they are going through. Members can learn from the aggregated data of a crowd to make treatment decisions and receive support from others just like them.
Why not use the power of crowdsourcing to validate your practice ideas before you invest boatloads of money and time?
What could be wrong with engaging with people in meaningful conversations to learn what’s accessible, convenient and affordable– TO THEM?
Before you walk away from that job you can hardly stand or experiment with the latest treatment fad. Here are three ways you can use crowdsourcing to kickstart your practice for sustainable growth.
1. Kickstart Your Practice Idea
Crowdsourcing is a process of engaging a group of people for a common goal– innovative ideas, outsourcing work or funding a cause or product.
The basic idea is to tap into the collective resources of a number of people for your project or business.
As an experienced professional, it’s predictable that you have preconceived ideas about what people need. But before you run off and start a private practice you need to at least validate your ideas through meaningful conversations.
Marketers call this target market research but I rather frame it as– helpful conversations between two people who care about what each other has to say.
Instead of going into your secret ‘bat cave’ to solve the world’s problems. Engage with a variety of people during the early stages of forming your practice. Listen, really listen to what people are struggling with and the solutions they are willing to pay for.
Watch out for imposing your viewpoint on the conversation. You’re looking to test your assumptions and learn the exact words and phrases people use to describe their problems.
Start by having helpful conversations with people and record what you learn. Use this Kickstarter Excel spreadsheet to collect and organize all the information you obtain. Listen to previous and prospective patients will describe their healthcare experience. Look for gaps in service where you can provide what people want and are willing to buy.
If you don’t like spreadsheets, use a blank sheet of paper to take notes on the EXACT statements that expresses a problem you’re able to solve.
Ask for permission to email them about your practice startup. Include them in the journey. Most people like to be a part of something new and like to be helpful. Collaborating with them will increase loyalty and effectiveness of the services you’ll eventually provide.
2. Kickstart New Core Services
Once you’ve gathered all this information about what people want and what they are willing to open up their purses for, what do you do next?
Now is the time to define the value you provide to patients. In other words, how you will make their lives better. Let’s face it prospective clients go to your website or come to your workshops to find a solution to their most pressing problem.
Clarifying how you provide value is the most important way to think about your practice.
Think of client feedback, not as criticism but as valuable insights that help you provide a remarkable patient experience. Individual clients may have unrealistic expectations or may not have the best ideas but as a whole, their suggestions will lead you to develop services that are in demand.
Look for the intersection of what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about and what people want. Don’t copy someone else or try to convince the world that they need what you’re selling. Instead, ask people what they want from you and provide it for them.
Ask your ‘crowd’ to collaborate with you to design services to co-create a profitable niche in the market. Ultimately, the value of your services is determined by the people who are willing to pay for it.
Ben Muscholt PT of Beyond The Clinic in Portland, Oregon used a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publishing of his book Mad Skills. Ben turned his personal passions and professional degree into a profitable side hustle. From his blog he sells his books Parkour Strength Training and Mad Skills, BPMRx exercise software and is know internationally as the “Parkour PT”.
Email your list to ask for their feedback on the services you’re thinking about offering. Ask them if they would be willing to purchase one of your services. If not these services which ones would they be willing to buy.
Offer to get on a pro-bono phone call or out for coffee to help you provide outstanding service at an affordable price. Offer a free 15-20 minute coaching call to talk about the service they experienced regarding a pain problem, say neck pain. These conversations don’t have to be formal or in-depth. Just focus on listening well and delivering value for in exchange for their honest opinions.\
Ask questions such as:
1. Tell about your experience with getting treatment for [their problem]
2. What did you really like about your experience?
3. What did you really dislike about your experience?
4. What should have been done differently to make your experience better?
3. Kickstart Your Launch
Now that you’ve vetted your new idea and service it’s time to launch it to the world. Instead of planning your ‘grand opening’ in secret involve the members of your inner circle.
When faced with the task of generating ‘buzz’ to promote your launch the best way is to ask people to join your launch team.
A launch team is a circle of friends, family, potential clients and key influencers who will support your launch. People feel good when they are part of a team or an insider with something new.
Once your contacts have invested into your project or business, they will want to tell their friends and are more committed to helping you succeed. You’ll want to create your launch team months ahead of time and consistently communicate with them as you near the launch date.
Kickstarting a new service or practice is exciting but usually, takes a lot of work. By the time most people get to the launch date they are eager to move on to the next phase.
Avoid this temptation, it’s a perfect time to throw a launch party. Launch parties can be a lot of fun and it’s a great marketing opportunity.
A well-planned kickstart party is a fantastic way to increase awareness about your new project and get people involved.
Create a list of the people to invite to your party. Email the launch date and ask them to share it. Create a party invitation and envelopes to send 3 to 6 weeks prior to the event. Send an email reminder 2 weeks prior and the day of the event.
Create a valuable ‘bring a friend’ incentive and ask your inner circle to not come alone. Create a free screening so that people can sign up for a follow-up appointment with you. Provide free gifts and simple refreshments.
Ask someone from your group to photograph or take videos on their phone to post on social media or your website.
Public Practice vs. Private Practice
Private practices that keep practice development and growth behind closed doors are rapidly dying. Access to new ideas and solutions requires deeper consumer engagement and communication.
Practices that will be successful in the future are people-centric, all about involvement and co-creation with clients through an increasingly connected world.
Just as crowdfunding is challenging traditional banking and investing operations. Crowdsourcing is revolutionizing the healthcare industry’s methods of bringing innovative services to the public.
Kickstarting your practice is a valuable tool where you can leverage the power of collaboration to reinvent your career or business. It’s one tool we can no longer afford to ignore. To help you get started with leveraging the power of people I created a Kickstarter Checklist. Click here to get your free Kickstart Checklist
Tell us about your experience of involving people in your practice ideas and plans.
Paul Potter is a physical therapist and mentor who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, who is also a therapist. They have four daughters. For more than 35 years he successfully managed his own private practice. He now shares his knowledge and experience through teaching and mentoring therapists who want to have their own practice.
He has authored On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice and the Cash Practice From Scratch Course. His website PaulPotterpt.com is dedicated to helping therapists achieve professional and financial freedom. Connect with Paul on his website or on LinkedIn paulpotterpt. You can also get more free resources at CashPracticeFromScratch.com