Great Ideas are Good, but Good Implementation is Great

I hear great ideas every day. One of my favorite stories is about the physician, who, during his initial Career Diagnosis™ offhandedly told me about the sports drink he and a neighbor friend, a chemist, had developed. He explained that in reality it was three sports drinks, one for before exercise, one for during exercise and one for afterward. I thought it sounded very interesting and suggested it was something he should pursue. He declined… that was about 2005. Nearly five years later Gatorade® introduced the “G” Series of performance drinks advertised as “Prime 01, Perform 02, Recover 03.” My client had nothing to do with the “G” Series.

I have other stories, some not quite so dramatic, and some that may sound very familiar to you. For example, have you ever said or heard an associate say, “I know how to help physicians have more successful practices. I’ve advised colleagues for years, but how can I make a living offering my advice?” It’s called consulting.

If you speak with successful consultant entrepreneurs what you’ll find is they split their business time among:

    1. Delivering services
    2. Selling services
    3. Performing background sales/marketing/delivery research and
    4. Managing the business of their business

And in a very successful consultancy the division of time will look something like this:

    • 50%     Delivering services
    • 30%     Selling services
    • 15%     Performing background sales/marketing research and other activities
    • 05%     Managing the business of their business

Now you know why consultants charge higher hourly rates than individuals earn performing the same working in a company. They only get paid for half their time. But, that’s another story.

The point is this, if you’re not spending at least 30% of your time selling your services, you aren’t successful. It’s that simple. And if you’re like most physicians who view sales as one step below cleaning toilets, then you really aren’t going to be successful.

My estimation is that for every great idea I hear, maybe, maybe one in ten is accompanied by good implementation. That is, running a good business. And the problem is not that clients don’t know how – after all, I provide the direction, support for business development, sales materials and more. It’s that they don’t want to commit to the 50% of an entrepreneur’s time that is not delivering services. Think about it and look at your current practice: patients call your office and speak to one staff person, they arrive for an appointment and they speak with several staff people, they are roomed by another staff person, vitals taken by another… etc, etc… On average, patients spend up to an hour engaged with your business for every 10 to 15 minutes you spend with them.

Now, ask yourself this, when you call your attorney, your accountant, or a colleague to engage in some business transaction, how much time do you spend with subordinates or associates rather than the professional whose advice you seek? I’ll bet the answer is not much, and if I’m wrong, I’ll bet even higher stakes you’re not happy with that person. Learn from your own experiences step away from your current business pattern. It will not serve you well outside clinical practice.

If your objective is to be an entrepreneur, and particularly if your entrepreneurial pursuit is to sell your knowledge, then once your idea is hatched, spend all your time on how: how to describe and define your product/idea, how to meet people who may buy your product,  how to sell. When you begin this endeavor, you will likely have no clients, which equals zero time delivering services. Take the 50% of allocated service delivery time and increase your sales time to 70% and your background sales/marketing research to 25%. Now you are focused on implementation and now you have the opportunity to not be among the 90% whose good idea becomes someone else’s good business.


Gatorade® the “G” Series of performance drinks advertised as “Prime 01, Perform 02, Recover 03.” Are the registered trademarks of Gatorade.