Think Like an Entrepreneur, Not Like a PT

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An entrepreneur’s mindset might lead to the future of your business.

By Stephen V. Rapposelli, PT

I bet you are a great physical therapist. I bet even though you are a business owner, you still consider yourself a physical therapist forever. Am I right?

What if I told you that your “physical therapist mind” is hindering you as a business owner and as a marketer. (If the thought of you being a marketer just made your stomach tighten, I just proved my point!) All of us who are reading this need to start thinking more like an entrepreneur.

Let me explain the “physical therapist mind.” The “physical therapist mind” results in you:

  1. Being a natural giver/fixer/hero.
  2. Wanting what is right for everyone else, even if you have to suffer for it.
  3. Feeling tremendous guilt for charging for their time/service/expertise.
  4. Wanting to be liked/admired/respected

Let’s contrast this with an entrepreneur mind. The entrepreneur mind results in you:

  1. Looking for solutions to problems, some of which may not even exist yet.
  2. Seeking the right customer to your solution.
  3. Exchanging value that results in a profit.
  4. Not apologizing for success or complaining about failure.

Now, it may seem initially that physical therapists and entrepreneurs are mutually exclusive. I suggest to you that many of you either are currently entrepreneurs or have it in you to become one. Additionally, I suggest that for the good of our profession, we all better become entrepreneurs and learn how to market the solutions that we offer already in our offices. We just need to think a little differently.

You may think that I am surely not talking about you. I am. How do I know? I will prove my point. Have you ever watched a commercial or saw an ad and shouted out loud, “Oh my goodness, I thought of that darn thing years ago, and someone is now selling it!” Yes, it happens to me all the time. (In my mind, years ago, I invented a beach chair with a hole in it for pregnant women who wanted to get a tan while lying prone. Perhaps you have been imagining the same awesome chair. I saw one online and was depressed for weeks.)

My point here is that you have so many ideas in your head from your life as a physical therapist that would solve many problems in the world. It is just a matter of making that idea a reality. I bet you may have thought of the perfect exercise device to strengthen the quadratus lumborum from years of treating back pain patients. Why haven’t you started making it? Don’t you think someone would like to have that cool piece of equipment and no longer have back pain?

Have you ever seen one of those “pretty people” on Instagram touting their latest exercise program and their only qualification is looking good in a swimsuit? Does it burn you up as much as me? After all, you have lots of letters after your name, your exercise programs actually work with real people, and you don’t look THAT bad in a swimsuit. Why are we all not doing this?

To be, and market, like an entrepreneur, you only have to solve someone’s problem. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to either solve a big problem to a few people, or solve a little problem for a lot of people. To be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, you have to solve a big problem for a lot of people!

Can you think of a way to solve a big problem for a few people? (Hint: your physical therapy skills!) Can you think of using your knowledge and skills in a non-traditional way? I suggest you look up www.stretchlabs.com.

Now, looking at that business model may make you angry. I know I was when I first saw it. My first reaction was that my profession was in trouble! This company charges people cash to come into their store and get stretched. By “flexologists!” What the heck is that? I went to school for years for that!

Well, while I was busy being angry and protective of my credentials, this company served customers who wanted to feel good and get stretched, and there are very few barriers for their customers to buy. How many barriers do WE put up to our customers? How many other services do you provide that the “person on the street” would find valuable and want to use if they knew it existed and it was easy to access?

From Ryan Levesque’s book, Ask, you need to be looking for five things when looking at any market for viability like an entrepreneur:

  1. It has to be evergreen (think the opposite of fidget spinners).
  2. It has to have an enthusiastic market (think Harley Davidson owners).
  3. It has to solve an urgent need (is the problem big?).
  4. It uncovers a future problem (repeat customers).
  5. It serves PWM (people with money).

I suggest that you start thinking more like an entrepreneur and solve someone’s problem, tell them how you will solve it, and exchange that value for a profit. It is OK. Your profession will thank you. I might even buy your next invention! 

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Stephen Rapposelli

Stephen Rapposelli, PT, is the owner of Performance Physical Therapy and Fitness in Delaware. He can be reached at srapposelli@pptandfitness.com.