What factors to consider before starting a healthcare company
The most important question to ask yourself before you start a company is - “Is there a need for the product or service you are about to offer?”
But how do you find out?
Do market research – understand your competition, perform gap analysis, read medical literature, and talk to potential customers and experts in the field.
Not only does market research help solidify your idea, it also helps build your pitch for future investors. It is important for you to analyse if your target market will adopt the new healthcare innovation you are planning to build.
However, some of the barriers to adoption can be lack of the associated health infrastructure needed to implement your innovation. If there is either no “need” or “fit” for your product or service in the market you are targeting, your startup simply will not take off.
If you do a thorough market research and then build your product based on what exactly is needed in the market, your solution has a better chance of being in demand.
In the healthcare sector, complying with a whole lot of regulations is unavoidable, and it is also resource heavy in terms of both cost and manpower.
Unlike many other industries that have seen a lot of innovation and dominance of startups, healthcare is heavily regulated to ensure patients get the best possible outcome, and their privacy is protected.
The amount of verification and validation that healthcare products need to undergo can be a massive undertaking for a startup. The quality and regulatory approvals needed not only to run your business but also to give you a competitive edge, can spell difficulty for many startups. The process of knowing, navigating, and abiding by these regulations is challenging and expensive.
Having a collaborative mindset
Entering the healthcare industry is not the same as starting an IT or technology company. There are already many established companies and organisations operating in the sector. Therefore, as a startup founder, you will find that you need to work with them, and not against them. It is best to understand and implement this from the get go.
Healthcare startups that know how to work with the system are disrupting the health system as we know it. Just like no man is an island, no startup can function like one. Sometimes, you have to join the system before you can beat it.
Create a business plan and strategy document
With any idea, you must have a business plan and strategy. It can be difficult to meet your goals without this information. Here are the questions that your business plan and strategy document should answer.
- How is your product differentiated?
- How much money do you need to get started?
- What are the available sources of funding?
- What kind of team and talent do you need to build your product?
- What share of the market do you envisage capturing?
- What approaches will you use to gain your share of the marketplace?
Access to good advice and mentorship
Given the complexity of building and implementing healthcare innovations, you will need inputs from people who have experience in the field, and can advise you on a range of topics.
A mentor or advisor can also help you define your objectives and track your progress. Attend networking events and conferences related to your area of healthcare, and also use your university alumni network and other creative forums to find good mentors.
Here are some tips on how to pick a mentor:
1. Identify your needs – what is the biggest pain point that you need a mentor for? Is it to help build you through marketing strategies, or to help boost your sales, or do you want him/her to guide you with financial planning for your business?
2. Find someone from the same industry - having a mentor from the same industry translates into having a ready reckoner of what lies ahead in terms of business problems, difficulties, and challenges. This type of mentor can ideally give you the best possible solutions to avoid or overcome them. Experience in the same industry is a huge plus, especially when it comes to healthcare, which is very different from other industries.
3. Proven track record in the past – A mentor with years of experience and hands-on practical knowledge can help you in almost all the possible problems you might face while growing your business. Having someone inexperienced in healthcare or someone who has very theoretical knowledge without experience of having implemented healthcare solutions in the past might not be very helpful for your business.
4. Fills the missing skill sets - The best possible mentor profile is one that can fill in for the skills you lack. Choosing a startup mentor who has the same skill sets as you will not help you in learning the missing skills needed to run a startup. It is better to find a mentor who fits the missing pieces of the puzzle with their skill-set. The benefits of this approach are that you have the opportunity of learning new skills, access to a different viewpoint, and a better perception to scale high with your startup.
Know your opportunities and challenges
As a healthcare entrepreneur, you should be well aware of the opportunities and challenges that your startup might face, and what lies ahead. If you can identify opportunities quickly and decisively act on them, it can be a huge benefit for your startup.
If you are aware of what challenges lie ahead, you will constantly try to find a way to manage and tackle these challenges. The consequence of this is that you will improve your business rather than being caught unaware.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)