Sitting with personal overwhelm and uncertainty in times of business entrepreneurship

Wow what a ride the last couple of months have been. I have some very exciting news!  Ubuntu Medical (where my rooms are located) is finally getting a facelift and I’m taking 50% ownership of the Medical Centre, which I’m extremely excited about.  We have been here for 8 years now—and we thought that it was time to modernise it!

So what’s happening?
Between 22nd December and 30th January, 2017 we are closed to give the whole place a facelift.  We are taking additional space from the shop next door and creating additional rooms, which will be soundproofed; we’re adding more toilets, and concreting out the back to create 5 additional car parks! All this, with of course: a fresh lick of paint. Wow, I’m exhausted just writing about it.

Once complete—along with new branding, website, signage, shop front and reception area—the practice will look to recruit GPs, other allied health practitioners, and pathology; all very exciting stuff. We aim to be a one-stop shop for your entire healthcare needs.

I’ll see clients for most of January, but from a new location in the Grange (details to come).

Personally, the whole process has been a massive learning curve. I was attracted to the idea because I’ve always been interested in running a small business and thought that this was the right opportunity—at the right time.  I have learnt about negotiating leases, dealing with staff and change (and recruiting the right people), Internet, data, computer systems, commercial financing and long-term strategic thinking.  If that wasn’t enough, I’ve learnt about  interior design and fit out as well.


Key learning’s (so far)
(1) Dealing with overwhelm and uncertainty is probably the main psychological skill required.  I truly believe that this is true for any entrepreneurial activity.  There are times when it all feels too much, or too many people think that the idea is a bad one.  The key is to stay in the feeling of anxiety or overwhelm and not try to get rid of it.  If you stay in the feeling long enough and resist the temptation to run away—it eventually passes and your comfort zone expands.  Overwhelm is not a sign that the project is a bad one.

(2) Secondly, you can’t do it by yourself and you need the right people around you. For this project, I knew a great builder and associated tradespeople from renovating properties in my personal life.  I also found 2 really great people who could do the practice’s accreditation, business plan and marketing.  I had to find the right mortgage broker to obtain the correct commercial funding (difficult to navigate in this noisy space) to make the project happen, sustainably.  Literally 10s of people are involved in the project. Conversely, I learnt how to avoid the wrong people i.e. those who would hold the project back, which was equally important as finding the right people.

(3) It has really got me thinking about how bigger projects in life (I would also call them dreams) get completed. Firstly, they do take time and can’t be rushed.  More specifically people can’t be rushed; they need time to emotionally process the change.  We can process intellectual things very quickly but take longer when strong emotions are present.  Any change, especially to someone’s working environment is always going to be emotional.  It probably took me 6 months of planning, talking it through with people, before everyone was ready to commit to doing it.

(4) Developing a good gut feel and sense of optimism goes a very long way. I would have loved to have made every decision with 100% of all the available information.  The reality was—this wasn’t always possible.  I relied on a mixture of gut feeling and rationality to make decisions.  Importantly, a project like this is not possible without a general feeling of optimism and vision of what you want to create.

(5) If you going to do something, then you need to do it properly. This is what I learnt renovating houses and renting them out to students.  I learnt that I sometimes needed to go a little over budget to make a house nice to not only appeal to renters, but to maximize its re-sale value.  I really see the same principle applying to running a successful business.  Different components— good staff, marketing, good location, fit out—are factors that must be properly executed, otherwise the business won’t work properly, which this saying sums up nicely:

“More than this is not necessary but less than this is insufficient”.

Again, this will probably mean going a little over budget. However, in the medium to long term, provided you have a good product—this will be of little consequence.

I shall keep you all updated as I continue learning and feeling my way through entrepreneurship.