Patient advocacy is a new and upcoming career -- so new, in fact, that there are few rules for getting started. If you have already reviewed the possible patient advocacy career paths available, and none of them meets your wishes or needs, you may want to consider starting your own patient advocacy business as a self-employed patient advocate.
Here is some background information to help you start a patient advocate business:
When someone starts a new business, they are choosing the life of an entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs have several attributes in common. Begin by being honest with yourself as you answer these questions:
Are you a self-starter? Are you willing to do what it takes without waiting for others to tell you what to do, or relying on others to get it done? Can you self-direct your work and focus on your goals?
Are you a networker? Rare is the business person who operates successfully in a vacuum. Others, whether they are your friends or your competitors or simply other business people from the Chamber of Commerce or business tip club, will be your greatest source of new clients or new resources. The ability to schmooze, both giving and receiving, will be one of the skills you'll need most.
Do you thrive on challenges? Are you rarely intimidated and do you have a thick skin? Are you patient and balanced? Owning and running your own business means constant challenges. As a patient advocate, you'll be confronted with people who don't communicate well, people in pain, loved ones who have their own ideas, competitors, money people, medical personnel and others who will make balance and patience an important attribute for you, too.
Do you adapt to change in the marketplace easily? Can you size up the environment and make shifts to meet its needs? Being an entrepreneur means you must be able to first identify changes in your market and second, adjust quickly to those changes.
Are you a good listener? You'll need to listen to your clients, family members, medical professionals, insurance people, your financial, legal and marketing business advisors, and others. You'll need to understand their points-of-view and you'll need to know how to make sure they know they have been heard before you move forward with decisions.
Are you self-disciplined? Working for yourself means working harder and longer hours than you've ever worked for someone else. You won't have someone else telling you when to be in the office, or overseeing your schedule. You'll need to maintain your focus on your work, but you'll need to know when it's time to take a break, too.
Are you trustworthy? For some businesses, being trustworthy isn't as important as it is for a patient advocacy business. You'll be telling people they can trust you with either their health, their finances, their lives, or all three. Can they?
Do you understand your weaknesses? You may be the best advocate in the world, but if you can't handle bookkeeping, you'll need to bring in a bookkeeper. There are many people who can help you with your business, but you'll need to know for yourself when it's time to delegate and pay them for helping you. When you know where your business problem spots are, you'll know to, and to whom to reach out for help.
Do you learn well from mistakes? In business, mistakes aren't necessarily failures. Sometimes they are the best way to learn what works and what doesn't. You don't have to make your own mistakes, because you can learn from others' mistakes, too, if you're paying attention. But that's the key -- you need to pay attention and adjust accordingly.
Do you have support from those around you? Family members must be willing to cope with your long hours and business focus, too.
Start a Patient Advocacy Business:
- Part One: About You and a Patient Advocacy Business
- Part Two: The Role of Finances in Building a Patient Advocate Business
- Part Three: Patient Advocacy Customers, Clients and Services
- Part Four: The Particulars of Starting Your Patient Advocacy Business
- Part Five: Resources for Starting a Patient Advocacy Business