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How a Career in Medical Research turned me into an Entrepreneur

Learn how I was able to transfer my skills into Entrepreneurship and how you can too.

Feature for Entrepreneur Blog

I’ve always had a passion for things “Medical” and always had a passion for “helping people” so merging both passions made sense to me. Like with any passion the first thing is to become educated in your area of interest, so I studied a Degree in Medical Science graduating with Honours.

 I knew in order to have a greater impact for helping people, and at the same time creating credibility and authority in my field, I studied a Masters of Science graduating with Honours yet again. I’ve never been the type to do things half assed, it’s either all or nothing with me!

I was reflecting about my path into Entrepreneurship and realized that although on the surface it may appear that it was a divergent path in my Career, it actually made perfect sense for me to move into the space of Leadership Mentoring, Coaching and Behavioural Science. It wasn’t haphazard or by chance or shear luck, every choice/decision I made brought me exactly where I needed to be today. Let me explain.

Grounding my Career in Research has equipped me with the attitudes and motivations for being an Entrepreneur. We are both Crazy! We have crazy ideas/concepts that we think “Hey, it sounds good this could have the potential to improve people’s lives, fill a gap in the market”. People look at us thinking we’re nuts! But that’s ok, as I know that is where all the good stuff comes from. Earlier on in my Career I used to jokingly say I was a “Mad Scientist!” That was the stereotype right? Hopefully I’ve broken that one…or at least slightly.

Next we start creating Hypothesis/Questions around our idea. As a Researcher you start doing your background research on your idea. You conduct your Literature Searches/Reviews see what’s been done in the past, who’s conducted similar research, are they major players in your field of expertise – meaning do they have credibility or are they just full of you-know-what? Where did they publish their findings was it in a highly prestigious Medical Journal or something that fell off the back of a truck, that’s full of air with no substance! 

You start to Network with those “Thought Leaders”, attend conferences; connect with them through various Networks. I love to Model Excellence, I always have and always will. I love the feeling of learning, growing and taking myself to a level that is almost out of my reach but bloody hell, when I achieve it there is no other great feeling. Success!

If you’re fortunate perhaps someone will Mentor you because they see something within you and want to give back part of their success and give you a hand up. I’m fortunate that I have a Leadership Advisory Board that does just that!

Then the fun and games really begin. How do you take your idea to Market? How do you get Investors to INVEST in your cause?

Having worked in Research and within Pharmaceutical Industry which are HUGE Entrepreneurs turned successful BIG Businesses. Like a lot of Researchers will tell you, you must test your concept and you want to FAIL FAST! Idea’s cost money and lots of it! No point creating something and then no one wants it or believes in it. So you start a Clinical Trial or Pilot Study to test your theory. In Research the trick is, that you’re always trying to fail your hypothesis, disprove it! The thing in Research is that success comes in two forms, either you confirm or un-confirm your idea.

In the past I’ve worked in Research conducted by Prominent “Thought Leaders” Clinicians, and have seen firsthand how Research has a very large Entrepreneurial component. Competing for Government Funding for Research is highly competitive. Regardless of your Experience, published papers, standing in the Medical Community, the Governing Body controlling the money will pick your proposal to pieces. So as an Entrepreneur trying to Woo the Investor to believe in their concept and how it will benefit the investor’s ROI long term is not easy.  Especially if the only person that can see your vision is YOU! This is why crafting your Pitch to Perfection is Critical.

So if there is a glimmer of hope in your idea, the investor may start off “low risk” give you a small percentage of your original investment request. You think CRAP! How am I supposed to get results from that? And yet you move forward.

You make do with the money, you think ok may be just enough to get this thing off the ground, try and prove some benefit, gain some results, before you go back to your investor and ask for more cash! Resources are tight, you may have to do many things yourself because you can’t hire the right people with the right skills to do the work or take out personal loans to pay for your idea. And yet you move forward.

As my background is in Project Management there are 3 things that affect the outcome of a Project:

1/ Budget

2/ Timelines

3/ Quality of work. 

When any of these levers are pulled, it changes the game of the entire Project. Budget affects timelines and quality of work! If you’re planning to test your idea and want to request for more funding then you ramp up the timelines to test your idea to point of failure fast (if need be).

Failing is a good thing! The more you fail, the more you move closer to the Perfect Product/Service. Failure leads to experience, experience leads to lessons learned, lessons learned leads to improvement of innovation and paves the way for creation of new ideas, new ideas leads to SUCCESS!

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