One of the most frequent questions I get asked by other nurses about my business is, “how did you get started, or how did you get yourself out there?” Well, let me reiterate as I have before and remind you that being an entrepreneur is hard work. If you’ve met me, then you know I’m not afraid of it. Now, before I get flamed here, let me say that I’m not saying your not up for the challenge. Nurses work hard, but venturing out on your own isn’t about taking an easier path. It’s about following your passion and turning it into something that you not only feel good about, but something that you will more than likely do for the rest of your career.
The rest of your career. Sounds a little overwhelming, but not if it’s something that you really want to do. And, here’s the kicker. You’re an entrepreneur. You can always re-invent yourself and your services. A piece of advice though, if something is working, you’re helping people, and you’re making a decent living…you may want to find a way to continue those services before branching out. This innovative nurse project is a perfect example. Right now, I’m able to run my primary business, and do this. I just have to hire more capable people for my current enterprise. Need a job?
So, first thing is first. Get yourself a good business card. I embrace technology like you wouldn’t believe, but people still ask for my card, and I want it to make a statement. Out of the gate I had a professional design my logo, and I then went with a double sided (contact on the front, brief list of services on the back) card using a “heavy” card stock option. Don’t let your card feel too flimsy. I’m all about boot strapping, but some investments are worth a little more. You can visit VistaPrint if you already have a logo, upload it, and design a layout.
Now I should back up here and make a friendly suggestion. If you haven’t already picked a business name, it might be a good idea to do so, and register the URL. I personally use Name.com for my website and hosting needs. Of course I don’t really want to address the website topic here, because it may start to get a little overwhelming. Let’s just stick with the card for now. If you decide to use a personal email address as your contact, make sure it doesn’t have anything like “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Let’s keep it professional, and go with a gmail account.
Okay, business card in hand, now what? Do I need to mention that you should always carry these with you? If so, “carry them wherever you go.”
Get out there and network. How, when, where you ask? Well, do you ever find yourself among a group of people making small talk? Wether it’s a friendly gathering, your spouse’s/partner’s company party, your kid’s sporting event with all of the other parents, this is an opportunity to network. Wait! Before you take advantage of these opportunities, please remember that people don’t like spam, so don’t spam with your nice new business card. Wait for the right moment (like if they ask, or if the topic your discussing might be pertinent).
Engage in the conversation. What are they talking about? It’s interesting how a conversation can lead into some type of medical story. “My (insert family member) is dealing with (insert issue) and we just don’t know what to do…” something like this. You reciprocate with something like, “well as a nurse…wait! your a nurse? Yep…” Boom. This is your cue to walk in through that door that just opened up. Hey, I truly value the fact that once I say I’m a nurse, people just start opening up.
Even if their story doesn’t really lead into a service you particularly provide as a consultant, you never know where the conversation will lead, or where that business card they asked for will end up based on your conversation. I’ve gotten referrals from people who were somehow connected like it’s six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Read current events (yes, pop culture counts), brush up on your conversation skills, and take advantage of every opportunity to put yourself out there.
Update: Business cards are still relevant, but how about innovating by making your very own QR code? http://goqr.me/