Growing as an Entrepreneur


Looking outside the realm of physical therapy to other businesses can offer solutions in our own field of expertise.

By Sandra Norby, PT

Last night, my business partner and husband, Kim, and I attended an event, “DMStartUpDrinks.” This organization brings Des Moines, Iowa, entrepreneurs and start-up enthusiasts together. We like to attend events such as this one for a couple of reasons. The first being my assumption that an entrepreneur in any field faces similar challenges, and the second being that Kim is an idea guy and needs a network of like-minded people to help guide him to turn his ideas into reality.

The event was amazing. The entrepreneurs were passionate, open, and helpful. Networking was accomplished and business cards exchanged. But the best part was that we were among people who got us—who understood the insanity of being an entrepreneur. They, like us, live and breathe their dreams every moment of every day.

The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” Writer Brett Nelson stated in June 2012 on that “Entrepreneurs, in the purest sense, are those who identify a need—any need—and fill it. It’s a primordial urge, independent of product, service, industry, or market. This is the true essence of entrepreneurship: Define, invest, build, repeat.”1

The PPS Annual Conference is where I satisfy my need to be around physical therapy entrepreneurs. Every year, I have a topic on which I need advice. I pose the question to as many of my peers at the conference as I can. By starting the conversation, the door opens and knowledge begins to flow. I have grown exponentially as an entrepreneur through these interactions. But when things are bad—like payment challenges—I also feel that we can focus too much of our conversation around this topic, which limits our ability to work toward solutions to problems we actually can control.

Last night, I learned that failed attempts do not stop the entrepreneur from trying again. I asked one attendee, “What do you do?” He said that he was between start-ups. I asked him what he meant by between start-ups. He explained his first start-up was a video animation company that lasted six years. His second start-up company lasted 10 years before it folded due to lack of capital. He asked me about my business and was curious about my business challenges. I explained that gaining market share is a challenge because of the lack of physician or hospital ownership in our company. He shared with me his next start-up idea related to context marketing for small, privately-owned medical businesses. His idea was brilliant, and I told him that I would be happy to test drive his concept. The night progressed much the same with relevant ideas and perspectives that could enhance my business and opened my eyes to the perspective of non–physical therapy business experts.

Combining PPS opportunities, such as networking and the plethora of tools in all media formats, with local to national entrepreneur networking and knowledge groups is the right approach for me to learn and grow as an entrepreneur. Hearing the stories of the non–physical therapy entrepreneurs helps me to think outside the box of physical therapy ownership and opens my eyes to creative solutions to my business challenges. I follow many social media groups such as,,, and I encourage you to find a local group in which to participate. Last night, I also explained what a physical therapist does, which will benefit our entire profession in Iowa.


1. Nelson Brett. “The Real Definition of Entrepreneur and Why It Matters.” Website. Posted June 5, 2012. Accessed May 2014.

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