Fail it. Nail it. Scale it. Sale it

by Arlen Meyers

Fail it. Nail it. Scale it. Sale it

Q: What are the three most common questions doctors, scientists and engineers ask about their new ideas, inventions and discoveries?

A: What do I do next ? How to I find money? How do I scale my business?

The answers are to 1)set up and fail at conducting the right business model and experiment to find a profitable and scalable business and economic model (fail it), 2)fix what’s broken (nail it) and 3)then feed the machine so that when you put customers in the top, profits come out the bottom ((scale it) or you create value for more and more patients.

Whether you are a for profit or non-profit, here are the benchmarks and KPIs that will define the stage of development of your enterprise as described by your impact model, operations model, marketing and sales, management and team, and financial management and growth plan.

At this point, taking the next step means having organizational ambidexterity and having planning horizons on the now, the next and the new. That takes a different approach and means you’ll need to constantly adjust and lubricate your machine with OILS

Getting your ideas to patients is a risky, laborious process.  In the beginning, most of your time should be spent on being a problem seeker, not a problem solver. The task at had is to understand the industry, your competitors, the markets and the segments you intend to dominate with a unique selling and value proposition. Particularly with sick care ideas, we need substantial innovation, not tinkering, incremental tweaking or solutions chasing problems designed to scale and not heal. That means doing something new or something old in a very new way that generates at least 10x the user defined value of the existing competitive offering or the status quo.

One way to think of the steps along the path is to mark three steps: The 3 stages — Setup, Launch, and Scale — are successive. That means, that one must complete one stage in order to move onto the next one. It’s analogous to a stage-gate® at the end of each stage. It is also 99% about execution.

Here are some tips on how to scale your ideas:

Scaling companies is more important than starting companies, particularly for mid-sized cities trying to create opportunities for their cities. Doing it requires several steps:
1 – Quickly demonstrating new growth, not startups, using scalerators, not accelerators
2 – Broadly communicating growth i.e. marketing
3 – Training stakeholders to support growth i.e growing the ecosystem
4 – Building local capacity and getting out i.e. planning for sustainability

Here is the intrapreneur’s guide to scaling.

Scale Up Canvas

Successful startups and regional ecosystems go through three broad phases as they scale, and a startup CEO’s job changes dramatically in each phase. A CEO’s first job is to build a product users love; the second job is to build a company to maximize the opportunity that the product has surfaced; and the third is to harvest the profits of the core business to invest in transformative new product ideas. This blog post describes how to become a great Phase 2 CEO by focusing on the highest leverage tasks that only the CEO can accomplish. As YC’s Continuity team, we’ve seen many Phase 1 CEOs transition successfully into Phase 2, and some who have not. The future of your startup depends on which kind you are.

Finally, don’t forget about keeping the end in mind and planning your exit.

I continue to participate in the growth and development of several biomedical and digital health innovation ecosystems, including those that are community and academically based. Each has grown by demonstrating the aforementioned principles, and include chapters of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, Digital Health Colorado, a data science consortium at the University of Colorado and the biocluster in Colorado.

The challenges and processes are the same for non-profits.

One of the many reasons why doctors make great entrepreneurs is their training in monitoring clinical outcomes and adjusting treatment based on the results. Do the same for your idea, invention or discovery and watch what happens.

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Arlen MyersArlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org and co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship

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