a sonographer's guide to entrepreneurship

Talking tech

Episode 3: The Beauty of the Side Hustle

Many people are scared to jump in and start their own business because they think they’ll need to quit their job, and all the security that brings to go out on their own and that’s simply not the case! In fact, we suggest to our students that they start this business as a side hustle so that they can start and begin growing their business WHILE they still have the security of a paycheck and benefits. In this episode, we are chatting about the 5 ways to start your mobile ultrasound business as a side hustle.


Jen (00:00):
Hello and welcome to the Talking Tech Podcast, the sonographer’s guide to entrepreneurship. I’m your host, Jennifer Lindsey, and today in episode three, we are chatting about the beauty of the side hustle. So many people are so scared to jump in and start their own business because they think they’ll need to quit their job and all the security that it brings to go out on their own. And that’s just simply not the case. And in fact, we suggest to our students that they start this business as a side hustle so that they can start and begin growing their business while they still have the security of a paycheck and benefits. So today, we are going to chat about five different things to think about when you start your mobile ultrasound business as a side hustle. So let’s do this. All right, first things first, you have to have time to go out and meet with physicians.

So getting out there and hitting the pavement is an absolute must. If chatting on the phone or emailing or messaging on LinkedIn or other social media was all it took to gain business in the medical industry, pharmaceutical and medical reps would be out of a job. And we all know there seems to be more and more of them every single day. Some businesses work in an online environment, but this is not one of them. So we have to set aside some time during normal business hours to get out there and get into those physician offices. Now, a lot of behind-the-scenes work can be done in the evenings and on the weekends, but your IPAs, or your income-producing activities, need to be done during office hours. So how do we do that? Each of our students is a little different.

So we have some that already have a day or two off because maybe they work 10-hour shifts, for example. Perhaps they do weekend work, or maybe they have PRN stuff that they do, and they can optimize their schedule a bit. That’s a perfect setup because they don’t need to change anything. They can hit the ground running with their schedule already adaptable to get things moving. Those of you working five days a week, Monday through Friday, are going to have to look at some options to alter that. So some employers may give you the option to do four tens, as I talked about before, maybe do weekend work, or maybe it’s time to start looking at other employment options while you’re building your business, as that might be your best choice. So if you’re listening to me kind of freaking out over here, remember that change is hard.

It’s work; it’s out of your comfort zone. So if you’re listening to this thinking, Ugh, I don’t want to deal with that, seems like a lot of work or a lot of effort, you’re right. And what you have to remember is having your own business brings you out of that comfort zone a lot more than being an employee. But the benefits can outweigh the discomfort. So if you’re looking at the opportunity of making $20,000 a month in gross revenue with your own business, it’s going to take some discomfort to get you there. If you win the lottery or your parents leave you millions, rich quick doesn’t work. Nobody gets rich quick. We get rich slowly by putting in the work, right? All right, so number two, wait to buy your ultrasound machine. Okay, guys, I always say this, but I have to say it again: As ultrasound techs, this is the most fun.

I think getting your logo and getting your ultrasound machine are probably the coolest parts of going into business For yourself, as a mobile ultrasound provider, seeing your business come to life in a professional logo is one of the best feelings. And then, of course, getting your ultrasound system is so exciting because, at that point, you are official; you’re ready to go scan your patients with your own business. Big deal. But a lot of people I talk to think that one of the first things they need to do is get their system, and we suggest the exact opposite. Okay, think about this. It’s going to take you some time to gain that first account. We’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, and we know it takes about 90 days from when you start marketing until you grab that first account. Now, side note, I’ve had students get their first account within two weeks.

I’ve had others. It takes a lot longer than 90 days. So everybody is going to be different. And, of course, it’s going to depend on your amount of marketing effort. You’re able to put in work ethic, of course, and honestly, just plain luck of the draw sometimes on which of those offices pulls the trigger first. But if you’re in that 90-day average, why would you want to pay for your ultrasound machine while it is collecting dust? Because you haven’t started your first account yet. It only takes about seven to 10 days to turn over a system. So once you purchase it to get it with our students anyway, through our vendor side, it only takes seven to 10 business days. So it can be turned around really quickly. And I don’t want to get off on a tangent here, but this is why we teach our students to start their business on a service fee basis.

So quickly this is important for those who haven’t heard me talk about this. Setting things up on a service fee setup is where your physician client bills insurance for the ultrasound because they are already credentialed with insurance, right? And you, as the ultrasound provider, simply charge the physician a fee for utilizing your services. You invoice them once a month for everything you did the previous month. You’re good to go. You don’t have to worry about any of that. This way, you don’t have to wait the agonizing months. It takes, I know this from personal experience, for insurance to either accept or decline you because they can decline you. They can say, Hey, we don’t need any more imaging providers in your area. Thank you very much. And when you do set your business up this way, when you’re waiting for insurance credentialing, you have to buy your machine ahead of time and have it collect dust for months while you’re paying on it because you have to put the serial number of the machine that you’re going to be using on your insurance credentialing paperwork.

It just doesn’t make as much business sense to set it up that way. Now can always look at adding on insurance credentialing later. We did that for our own mobile ultrasound business, but for 99.9% of people, I would suggest setting it up where you are providing the service through a contract with a physician first. This can be one of your biggest initial expenses, and that’s why we include these contracts for our students—such a huge cost saver. We’re so excited to be able to do that. Okay, guys, let’s move on to number three. Have a plan in place before you start the business. This can be one of the most difficult things because you don’t know what you don’t know, right? So we are prime examples of this. We started our business 16 years ago. As I say, we migrated from a clinic in a mobile ultrasound on a wing and a prayer.

We had no idea what we were doing. We put our brains together and came up with a plan we thought would work. Some of the stuff did, a lot of it didn’t. And we found ourselves shifting and molding along the way was a great learning experience, of course, but those experiences come at a big cost of time and money that we could have saved had we followed a plan someone else had already put in place. Now at the time, there wasn’t anything like that out there. So we created it, and that’s where our courses evolved from. Think about it this way. This is why franchises work so well, right? Franchise owners get the huge benefit of a literal step-by-step plan. They know exactly how to start the business because every detail is given to them. They know exactly how to market their business because they have all of that information at their fingertips.

They know how to deal with clients and customers because it’s all been done before, and they get a duplicatable plan. They’ve got a manual; they’re good to go. When you start on your own without that amount of minute details, you start just like we did on a wing and a prayer, right? So thank the Lord in heaven. We stuck through it with all the tough times we had because we are at a place today that has totally transformed so far beyond where we started. Thank goodness. I think every business owner has those internal struggles when times get tough, and they will. You will have those internal struggles and tough times no matter what type of plan you have in place because who fixes the problem when it arises for you, right? You don’t have a boss, an HR rep, or your hospital administrator swooping in to deal with the stuff they deal with because it’s all on you.

It’s your business. So you wonder, geez, am I cut out for this? Can I handle this? You have got to put that negativity inside. Realize that feeling is normal. You’re going to have those feelings, acknowledge them and then restructure your thoughts to; I am cut out for this. So what do I need to do to fix it? Who can I ask for help? What can I research to help me find the answers? Let me also say it doesn’t matter if you have a tried and true step-by-step plan or if you’re winging it on your own; tough times are ahead. There are going

To be trials and tribulations, just like everything in life. But man, having a tried and true plan in place makes those trials fewer and more far between for sure. And that’s really why I love what I do. I do. We are able to work with our students and give them that franchise plan without all the franchise costs, which is so cool. And really, being in the business of helping others succeed is the most rewarding thing I’ve done. And if you need a little help, as a side note coming up with the basics of that plan, make sure to grab my freebie that we’ve got on our website. It’s called Six Things to Consider When Starting Your Mobile Ultrasound Business. If you haven’t grabbed that yet, go get it. It’s great basic info to have on hand. I will put a link for it in the show notes, but you can also grab it directly on our website in a couple of places.

But I’ll have a back page that I’ll post for you guys. It’s going to be at aic-ultrasound.com/3. Like I said, it’s just great basic info to have on hand, and it can help you start putting that basic plan together. All right, guys, let’s move on to number four. You need to be able to figure out how to use your time wisely. So this can be one of the hardest things you have to do because you’re going to have so many things to do, and if you’re starting out in a scenario where you have your regular job too, it’s hard to figure out where to fit in all of this extra stuff that you now have to get done. So my suggestion is that during the days that you have availability during office hours, you focus on those IPAs.

Now remember, as I mentioned, IPAs are income-producing activities. So you’ll have a ton on your to-do list, and most are going to be backend items that have to get done. But the IPAs are the activities that move the needle for you. So these would include things like meeting with physicians, checking in on potential contracts, and following up with offices who had an interest in your service, those types of things. Now an example of a non-IPA item would include something like putting together a list of doctors to call on, you know, researching, figuring out who’s close to you, what their addresses are, what their phone numbers are, so that you can start that sales and marketing process with them. Now that is something that can be done in the evening or on a weekend so that when it is business hours, and those offices are open, you’ve got that done already.

So you can focus on the actual meeting part of the task or the follow-up part of the task because that’s the IPA. You want to be doing those IPAs during open office hours. We have to have a mindset like a business owner here, right? We can’t think like an employee any longer. We have to realize that all the tasks fall on us. So like I said before, there isn’t an admin person, a boss, or anyone like that. If it’s going to get done, we, the business owner, are going to have to do it. You guys, I still go through this after almost 20 years on a regular basis. When I’m creating new courses like I’ve been doing lately or working on something new for our business, I have to batch my time. And so, the best way that I found to do this is to figure out your non-negotiables.

So for me, the non-negotiable things that I have to do every single day for me are spending time with my son and my husband and then also having some time during the week to maybe grab dinner with a friend or get a pedicure or just something fun for me, or I’m not doing any business work, I’m just focusing on kind of letting go and having a good time, right? So I schedule those out. So right now, as I’m recording this, my son is two and a half. He goes to preschool three days a week so that Mama can put on her hustle hat and get to work. My mother-in-law also comes over once a week to help me out, and I love that. So I pick him up at about 4:30 pm from preschool every day, and that way, I have hours of quality time with him before his bedtime.

So I may look at emails every once in a while. During that time, I do always have my phone with me, you know, if it’s an urgent matter from our office, you know, some issue with one of our clients or something like that, you know, at their physician’s office. But that’s my time with my kiddo. It’s my non-negotiable. So non-urgent matters can wait until he’s in bed or he’s at school, right? So many nights, that means when he goes to bed, I grab my computer and get to work if I’m in a hustle mode. So if he goes to bed around seven 30 or eight and I stay up until midnight or so, that’s an additional four hours of work I can get done. That’s a whole half-workday, right? So now you can. Now I want to say, too, don’t always get into the habit of doing this.

You will completely burn yourself out. But if you realize that this is hustle time or you’re in a season of hustle, it’s going to be short-lived while you’re in a state of growth. And so you can kind of put your head down and get things done. Alright, you guys, let’s move on to the last one, number five. And this is fun, setting an exit strategy goal from your job. What do you need to be banking to quit your job and be a hundred percent your own boss? Some of you probably already know this, so stick with me here for a second because most of you who haven’t had your own business will enjoy a refresher from economics class on revenue. So first things first, to figure this out, you’ll want to figure out your gross revenue potential. So gross revenue is the total money your business brings in from the services you provide.

So let’s go over that option for this type of business. So the industry average is about $500 gross revenue for a half day, a four-hour period, or $1,000 gross revenue for a full day and an eight-hour day. Now some of you, depending on where you’re located in the country, may be able to charge a little bit more, but let’s use that amount as a good average. So at full capacity, we’re talking here about providing services eight hours a day every day, Monday through Friday; you’re at about $20,000 a month gross revenue, $20,000, not too bad right now that’s not all coming into your personal pocket. Wouldn’t that be great? We have to take it business expenses out of that. But the nice part is about this business it doesn’t have a big overhead, is a pretty low overhead type of business because you don’t need office space.

You don’t have to pay for expensive, you know, radio or TV advertising. So you’ll need to determine where your net revenue is by taking the gross revenue minus those business expenses. And we always suggest getting an accounting firm to work with kind of from the get-go. Because honestly, once you start your own business, taxes, and business accounting and what you can write off and what business expenses go where, and all of that gets confusing. So I want to find out from you guys. Would you like me to create a freebie guide on this? What business expenses are kind of an average type of revenue? You can be looking at how to kind of take a look at what your revenue versus expenses would be. I was thinking that would be a great free guide. I wanted to get your guys’ feedback before I created that.

So let me know. You can comment on our podcast or shoot me a message, whatever you’d like to do. I would love to know if that would be something you guys would like me to create. Alright, so your current salary is going to obviously vary based on where you live and your experience. But let’s say at your current job, you’re making $35 an hour, average. Okay? That’s an average of $1400 a week or $5,600 gross per month if you work 40 hours. So you’ll want to make sure you add in any benefits you have, you know, vacation time, all of those types of things, to figure out your actual pay factor in taxes. This will give you the bottom dollar you need to make from your own business to be able to quit and take that business full-time if you’re looking to completely, you know, cover your current pay.

So there are a couple of things to consider here as well. You guys are probably thinking this. So one of them is health insurance. What do I do? If I’m on my own, obviously, if you can get some on your spouse’s insurance, that’s perfect. Easy peasy, you can do that. If you have to get it on your own, there are multiple ways to do that. And you can always chat with an insurance specialist to find out your best bet, what’s going to fit within your budget, all of those types of things. We work with an insurance agent. We have Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield; we pay that out of our company. So our company pays it, not us personally. So it’s a benefit to us through our company, which is nice. We also worked with our financial planner because we wanted to have an option for a 401k since that wasn’t available through an employer any longer. And there are options for small businesses to allow you benefits similar to a 401k. So I highly suggest that. Also checking in, you know, with your financial planner, once you’ve started and you start to grow

And starting to look at that exit strategy, I don’t think this is something you need to worry about or try to put together before you start. Let’s kind of do this step by step because there are options. So it’s not like you’re going to have to do so much research; it’s going to take forever and ever. There are easy ways to find out this information. Thinking about that exit strategy, though, is so exciting, isn’t it? So there you guys have it—the five things to think about as you start your mobile ultrasound business as a side hustle. I really hope you enjoyed today’s content on the podcast. Please subscribe, and make sure you give us a review as well. And honestly, if you guys have any content suggestions, I would love to hear from you. So message me. Let me know what you’re thinking. I’d love to put it on my list. I’ve got so many things, and I’ve had multiple people reach out to me to give me ideas on things they’ve been thinking about that they’d love to hear from me. So until next week, my friends, bye for now.

your strategy-obsessed ultrasound business coach.

I'm Jennifer -

Welcome to the Talking Tech podcast, where we answer your questions about legal, marketing, admin, sales, and so much more. After nearly 20 years in the industry running our own mobile ultrasound business and helping techs across the country do the same, I'm so excited to bring you industry insight, mindset, productivity, business tips, and inspiration to help you design the business of your dreams.

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