Expedite Your Online Success

In this week's episode, I'll be talking about three of the dumb mistakes I made while building an online business.

Why focus on developing an online buisness in this episode? There are two primary reasons to do so:

  1. There is a group of you who do NOT want to get into a traditional nonclinical job, such as UM physician advisor, CDI specialist, or pharmaceutical medical director. You want something more entrepreneurial; a business that can be started slowly with limited financial investment; that can be run from anywhere; or run part time while still practicing. In other words, an online business.
  2. That is exactly what I have been doing for the past year or so. And while I can’t say I’m an overnight success, I’m making progress. And I want to share my successes and failures with you, so that you can achieve success much faster than I have.
dumb mistakes business

Examples of Physician-Owned Online Businesses

Here are a few examples of the type of physician-run online businesses I'm talking about today:

  • David Geier has created an online business serving those with sports injuries and other orthopedic problems while still running a busy practice. In fact, his side hustle helps promote and support his practice. He was featured in Episode 049.
  • Larry Earl founded UrgentCareMentor to help physicians manage the business side of urgent care and occupational medicine services. He was featured in a this blog post,
  • NegotiationMD, run by Robert Felberg, helps physicians negotiate better employment contracts.
  • Katrina Ubell runs Weight Loss for Busy Physicians, a coaching service for women physicians that uses online video courses as part of her services, and a podcast to support it. She was featured in Episode 035.
  • Rebecca Kempton provides consultation services to parents of children with sleep problems at Baby Sleep Pro.
  • Rupy Aujla, based in the UK, writes, podcasts, speaks and sells an online course about health and diet at The Doctor's Kitchen. He has also published 2 books.
  • Jason Ryan founded Boards and Beyond to prepare medical students for the USMLE Step 1 exam. He still practices and teaches cardiology. And he was featured in Episode 081
  • Most of us are familiar with the White Coat Investor, who started as a blog and a book, and related financial sites like Passive Income MD and the Physician Philosopher.

Our Sponsor

We're proud to have the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program, offered by the Haslam College of Business, as the sponsor of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country, with over 650 graduates. Unlike other programs, which typically run 1 – 1/2 to 2 years, this program only takes a year to complete. And Economist Magazine recently ranked the business school #1 in the world for the Most Relevant Executive MBA.

University of Tennessee PEMBA students bring exceptional value to their organizations. While in the program, you'll participate in a company project, thereby contributing to your organization.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations. And they've become entrepreneurs and business owners.

By joining the University of Tennessee physician executive MBA, you will develop the business and management skills you need to advance your career. To find out more, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office by calling (865) 974-6526 or go to vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

Mistake Number 1

In discussing mistake or lesson number one, let me say this:

Don't build an online business the way I did!


Why do I say that?

Because if your primary goal is to create a business, starting out as a hobby can work, but it's NOT the most efficient and effective way to do it.

Let's start on the right foot by getting very clear on what our ultimate goal is. When I started blogging, I was mostly interested in learning how to write better, trying something new, and helping to promote physician leadership. And I wasn’t focused on creating a business.

When I transitioned to podcast producer, I had the idea that it could turn into a business, yet I did not approach it that way.

And I should know better. I’ve started an independent practice. I’ve helped my wife open a franchise. And I partnered with a group of investors to establish a free-standing urgent care center.

Where to Start

When starting a new business, there are four requirements that must be met. They relate to the nature of the consumer and of the business owner.

Visualize a Venn diagram. Your product or service must exist at the overlapping section of these four characteristics.

venn diagram business dumb mistakes

Identify Your Expertise

The first important factor is that you have expertise in that interest. As a physician, you have expertise in many areas – it’s not just “medicine.” It’s biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, studying, taking tests, presenting lectures, running teams, teaching, running a practice, reducing liability… You get the idea. Yes, you’re an expert when it comes to treating and teaching patients. But, consider all the other areas in which you’ve accrued expertise.

Engage Your Passion

The second requirement is identifying a subject that you’re passionate about. It's important because you won’t be able to persevere when challenges arise if you’re not. And selling your service or product will be very difficult if you’re not.

This can be one of those clinical or nonclinical interests. For example, you might be very passionate about a particular subset of clinical care in your specialty. Or, you might have a passion for something nonmedical, such as real estate, or documentation and coding.

One word about your passion… people often don’t develop real passion until they experience success. Sometimes it’s sufficient to get into something you enjoy, or might become passionate about over time.

I started with a basic level of interest in nonclinical careers for physicians. As I have been writing about nonclinical careers, networking with others in this field, and interviewing physicians about their successful career pivots, I have become MORE passionate about nonclinical careers over time.

The next two aspects of your new business relate to your customer.

Find Customers with a Clear Problem to Solve

You must confirm that there are customers with a problem who are seeking a solution. It could be a clinical issue, like obesity, fitness, children with sleeping disorders, chronic pain, or an elderly parent with dementia.

Or, it might be a nonclinical subject, such as a need to negotiate a contract, pursue a nonclinical career, or run a practice. Having an audience that has a need that you can easily identify is necessary, but not sufficient. The customers must also exhibit another attribute.

Find Customers Who Can Afford Your Solution

Customers must be willing and able to pay for your service or product. There are many needs that are best met by a charity or governmental agency that don’t make for a good business. It’s going to be difficult to build a successful business for a group of potential customers who either don't have financial resources, or are unwilling to part with them.

Perhaps you can develop a list of three or four skillsets that meet all four of those requirements.



My Second Big Mistake

Looking back, I should have spent more time growing my email list from the very beginning. Almost every online business depends on an email list.

There may have been a time when a social media site could substitute for an email list. But there have been too many examples of entrepreneurs creating a business based on social media, only to have the site change the rules, and shut down a business overnight.

Your email list represents your tribe. It’s a collection of listeners, readers, students, or customers that have demonstrated that they like what you’re doing. They resonate with your message. They're willing to hear about what you’re selling.

Your tribe is what some call a warm audience, prepped to buy from you, unlike a generic Facebook or Instagram audience, or someone looking at Google ads.

You need a list!

My Third Big Mistake

The final mistake I want to talk about today is my failure to quickly and aggressively network with peers in the online physician career “space.”

Almost any business you pursue will have “veterans” already doing it. That’s good. To enter a niche where you’re the first is awful. It takes forever to build demand for a brand-new product or service.

If you have so-called competitors, they have already validated the concept, or the businesses in those fields would not exist.

I like to look at this from an abundance outlook, rather than scarcity outlook. There is almost always room for another expert, coach, teacher, consultant or speaker in any field. You will attract a slightly different audience that resonates with your personal approach or perspective.

I wish I had actively reached out to these peers sooner, and developed ways to collaborate. What I’m experiencing now, is that as we collaborate, we all benefit.

It’s important to grow and support your network. It can lead to opportunities that you may have never imagined. I’ve had many colleagues share my podcast episodes, and I’ve been interviewed by some of them.

I’ve promoted their products. I was a speaker at Michelle Mudge-Riley’s conference, last April. And, I’m hoping to participate in Mike Woo-Ming’s conference in October of this year.

I just wish I had focused on networking sooner.


To summarize today’s message about quickly developing your online location-independent business, try to avoid these three mistakes I made:

  1. Not spending enough time identifying and validating a product or service that builds on your expertise and passion, and simultaneously serves as a solution to problem that customers are willing to pay for;
  2. Not aggressively building your email list from the get-go; and,
  3. Not taking advantage of opportunities to network and collaborate more aggressively.

Links for today's episode:

See text for links.

Thanks to our sponsor…

Thanks to the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It might be just what you need to prepare for that joyful, well-paying career. You can find out more at vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

I hope to see you next time on the PNC Podcast.

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Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton.


The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business. 

Many of the links that I refer you to, and that you’ll find in the show notes, are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you, that I have personally used or am very familiar with.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counsellor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career. 

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