10 ways to be a successful entrepreneur in veterinary medicine

10 ways to be a successful entrepreneur in veterinary medicine

No matter what the endeavor, don't be afraid to listen to your gut and take a leap of faith to achieve business success.
Jul 01, 2014

All of us have been or will be entrepreneurs at one time or another. Maybe we'll start a new business or veterinary practice. Perhaps we'll lead a team or a committee or even a family. As I grow older, I'm surprised by how often the opportunity for entrepreneurship presents itself. New business visions aren't limited to the young. For example, you might know the story of a man named Harlan Sanders who, in 1955, at the age of 65 started KFC and launched 100 fried chicken franchises in his first 10 years of business. Few of us will model that success, but trying to embody that entrepreneurial spirit is where it all begins.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not particularly smart. But I'm smart enough to surround myself with smart people, watch them and read what they say. A while ago I came across an article in my local island publication, The Anguillan, that discussed the skills needed to be an entrepreneur. The piece was drawn from ideas presented by American Express, and I thought they were worth sharing.

1. Be passionate. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't care what you're passionate about, but I do care that you're passionate about being excellent. Be passionate about being the best you can be, then do your best to ignite that same intensity in others.

2. Focus intensely. This is especially important in the beginning, as opportunities rarely present themselves twice. Don't worry what others are saying. Focus on the things you can control. You don't have to give 100 percent of your time, but you must be dedicated to giving 100 percent of your effort. This means being wholly invested in your commitment. When you play, play hard. When you work, work hard. And when you commit, commit entirely.

3. Enjoy the journey. There are very few shortcuts to success. Focusing on the goal is one thing, but you need to focus on and celebrate every step, every small achievement. I am a believer that if you can't enjoy the journey, you should probably consider another goal.

4. Listen to your heart. Trust your gut. Spreadsheets and financial statements are important, but listen to your amygdala, your "lizard brain" that processes emotional reactions. Pay attention when you hear yourself and others talk about their instincts, that something smells fishy or "just doesn't feel right." The line between success and failure is sometimes very thin. A big part of entrepreneurship is knowing when to step back from the ledge and when to take a leap of faith—and I don't mean tying a towel around your neck, yelling "Watch this!" and stepping off the roof.