Solopreneurship is Still a Team Sport

by Arlen Meyers

Solopreneurship is Still a Team Sport

Despite rumors to the contrary, private medical practice is not dead. Yes, the numbers of employed physicians are growing, but, according to a recent AMA survey, 60% of physicians work in physician-owned practices. In addition, the report revealed that eighteen percent of physicians were in solo practice, down 6 percentage points over 5 years.

Some define a solopreneur as a business owner who works and runs their business alone. Going by this definition of solopreneur, about a third of the American workforce comprising freelancers and consultants fit under category. Here are 20 of the top self-employed business opportunities right now.

However, if you define physician solopreneurs as those who create patient-customer defined value through the deployment of clinical innovation working , primarily, on their own, then the universe of solopreneurs gets much bigger.

Solopreneurs have an inherently entrepreneurial mindset, and they prefer single-handedly managing their business. The entrepreneurial mindset, in some ways, is similar to the clinical mindset but , many ways, is different. That’s important because innovation starts with your mindset.

There are many different kinds of physician solopreneurs. Some, like solo private practitioners, run small to medium sized professional services businesses. Some are technopreneurs, trying to get a product to patients. Others are social entrepreneurs, striving to improve the human condition, or intrapreneurs, acting like entrepreneurs in their organizations. Others are freelancers,consultants, independents, or contractors, offering services in many different realms including financial services, marketing, revenue cycle management, executive recruiting and coaching and many more. Solopreneurship, however, is a contradiction in terms, since entrepreneurship is a team sport and requires many people and moving parts to succeed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2020, about 65 million Americans will be freelancers, temps, independent contractors and solopreneurs, making up about 40% of the workforce. The result has been an explosion of co-working spaces to meet the demand for flexible, imaginative offices that catalyze creative thinking, collaboration and innovation. Some are not sold on the idea, and , in fact think it inhibits productivity and is a fad.

There is another way to view solopreneurs-those who are trying to address the loneliness public health crisis. Baby boomers are aging alone more than any generation in U.S. history, and the resulting loneliness is a looming public-health threat. About one in 11 Americans age 50 and older lacks a spouse, partner or living child, and that portion is projected to grow. It adds up to about eight million people in the U.S. without close kin, the main source of companionship in old age.

Solopreneurship comes with some hazards:

  1. Thinking that solopreneurship is about just creating a business
  2. Social and emotional isolation
  3. Lack of robust internal and external networks
  4. Faulty social support mechanisms
  5. Lack of divergent thinking informed by interdisciplinary and edge technology thinking
  6. Failure to see around corners
  7. Not creating a product that anyone wants to buy
  8. Not having a VAST business model
  9. Playing in the wrong part of the novelty-value innovation matrix
  10. Not finding the right mentors, coaches and sponsors

The rise of portfolio careers, encore careers, independents and structural changes in the part-time economy is changing the face of work. Doctors are undergoing this kind of facial plastic surgery just like everyone else.

 
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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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