a sonographer's guide to entrepreneurship

Talking tech

Episode 16: Scheduling your Business Startup Timeframe to Meet your Goals

Most people have a hard time figuring out what steps to take to start this business, and what must go on behind the scenes to be ready to actually get out there and market this business to your potential physician clients. Do you just buy a machine and talk to a couple docs? Do you spend your time and money on certain things? How can I save and start my business as efficiently as possible – both monetarily and time-wise?

In this episode we are chatting ALL THE THINGS when it comes to tracking and scheduling out your business startup.


Jen (00:01):
Hello and welcome to the Talking Tech podcast, a sonographer’s Guide to entrepreneurship. I am your host, Jennifer Lindsey. Wow. We are already on episode 15. I cannot believe it. I’m so excited. This has been so fun. And as always, please let me know what you think if you have podcast ideas. I do all of this specifically for this amazing community of sonographers who are either considering starting their business or have their own business and need some guidance. So I love putting these together, and I really hope that they are speaking to you and you guys are getting some great information out of them. I’ve had so much good feedback from the people I have talked to about it, which makes me so happy. Anyway, get off my little tangent here. I am excited to chat a bit about scheduling your business startup today.

This is something that I think confuses many people and the many techs I talk to regularly that are thinking about starting their own businesses. I think this is one of the things that gets confusing or is just something you don’t think about the timeframe for. So when you’re thinking about starting a business, one of the questions I always ask on our decision support calls when I’m talking to people about our Ultrasound Business Academy they’re looking to join as a student is when do you want to be out scanning at your first account? Now, I have some people telling me tomorrow, and I have some people say I’m not looking to be out scanning for another year, but they don’t realize when. Then I ask them, okay, well, how long do you think it’s going to take to do all of the backend work?

Then get out there and start marketing, get your first account, and step foot in that first account for your very first day. And people just have no idea. And so I think this is something that’s important because I think A, it’s confusing. B, it’s something that some people don’t even think about in the first place. Or C, people think they have to quit their job right away and jump into this full-time when that’s not the case. So today, I want to chat with you a little bit about kind of walking you through the steps to that business inception and that way, how long it’s going to take on average and kind of when you need to start thinking about, we’re going to backtrack when you need to start thinking about actually putting those first steps together.

So I want to make sure I can help you answer the questions, how can I save money and start my business as efficiently as possible, obviously both monetarily and time-wise? And how long is all of that going to take me? So today on the podcast, we are talking about everything regarding tracking and scheduling out that business inception business startup. Okay? So first things first, you need to decide that this is what you want to do, and you need to be all in. Now, this doesn’t mean quitting your job. This means deciding, yes, I want to be in business for myself and give yourself permission to be excited, scared, whatever those emotions are. But do not let yourself or someone else talk you out of this dream and this goal for yourself. This is so important, and I see this happen so many times.

And what? I love this quote and want to share it with you guys today. I’ve posted it on my social media before, but I love this quote so much. Its “fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.” I’m going to say it one more time for the people in the back, “fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.” It’s so true. I think people are so scared either that they don’t know what to do; they don’t know how to get started; they’re going, going to fail. And then what happens if they fail? There are so many things I can say about failure in business, and I know you guys can’t see me, but I’m doing air quotes over here for failure because there have been a thousand things that I wish, looking back, I had done differently or modified or whatever that was.

And if you look at them, you could say, gosh, this particular thing I did was a failure in air quotes. But no, it wasn’t. It was something that, hey, let’s try this. See if it works. Okay, it doesn’t. Well, that is a learning experience. Hey, we’re not going to do this particular thing again. We are going to modify it because these are the points out of this particular thing that didn’t work. Let’s modify that and try it again or let’s scrap the whole thing and say this is not something we want to do. And that’s why I love it so much. Just to kind of go off on a little bit of a side rant here, that’s why I love that we have our own mobile ultrasound business because we are not only coaching our students on starting theirs and growing theirs, we have our own business.

And so we were at that stage. It has, at this point, been 16 years ago, but I remember very vividly being so scared to start and afraid to fail. We had no idea what we were doing because we had no coaches to tell us how to set up mobile ultrasound, how that needed to work, and what needed to happen. The best way to market this, we were on our own. And those of you who have started your business on your own understand what I’m talking about; it is nerve-wracking and scary. And you have to come up with what you think are the best plans and best ideas, and you have to execute those with confidence until you realize they were a good idea or a bad idea. And so we can’t take those bad ideas and call them failures. We have to take those bad ideas and say, at the time, we didn’t know it wasn’t going to work.

Now we do. So how do we modify or change this to move forward? And so I think that’s so important to note is that when you’re looking at starting your own business, you have to understand that some of the decisions you make are not going to work out, and you have to pivot and keep moving forward. So fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. And I stand by that quote wholeheartedly from lots of experience. So if you’re feeling that fear creeping in as I’m talking about this, I need to help you out a little here. Okay, so I’m, I, let me talk a little bit about this business because it has immensely low overhead. Okay? We’re mobile; you guys can do this out of your home. You don’t need a building. We are not marketing through radio and TV and tons of money on social media.

That’s not how marketing to physicians works. We are taking time to go meet with these physicians and walk them through the sales process. So the actual monetary side of the marketing is not expensive. It is the time you’re taking out to do that. And I’m going to tell you a few things about how to make that work best when you’re first starting up. But the business itself has such low overhead. Now you can look this up on Google, but the average small business in America generally costs about $30,000 to start up. In the grand scheme of things, is not a ton of money. If you’re getting a loan out for something, that amount of money for a business startup is pretty average in the US, and that’s usually what you’re looking at. Now I have to have a shameless plug here because our ultrasound business academy saves our students about 70% of those normal startup costs.

And that’s so important because that’s one of the reasons we love putting this stuff together so much is it’s a tried and true step-by-step plan. So you take a lot of that, what if, and wonder out of how to put all this together, plus save a ton of money. So we absolutely love what we do, and that’s one of the reasons, two of the reasons startup costs and time that it takes putting all of it together. So let’s talk briefly about what it takes to run the business. So I’m talking about business expenses here because I want to kind of quell those fears of putting a ton of money out, putting a ton of time out, and it not working because there, there is not a lot of, business expenses that go into this besides your ultrasound equipment.

That is the biggest main expense that you’re going to have for your mobile ultrasound business now because we suggest waiting until you’re ready to start that first account before you purchase or lease the equipment. This way, your business revenue is covering your machine. So that makes the most business sense to wait until you’re ready to start that first account before you grab your ultrasound machine because it doesn’t make a whole lot of business sense to get your machine first and then have it collecting dust for months while you’re getting all the backend business stuff going. And that’s another thing that I’ll mention because so many techs will; I mean, that’s the fun part is getting your own, your very own ultrasound machine, in your hands, that’s yours, and you can set all the settings up exactly how you like them.

No one else is going to touch it is your machine, right? That’s the exciting part. When you think a lot of times, and I hear this across the board, people think that’s the first thing I need to get. I have to get my machine and be ready to go. I have to do all these things. Getting that machine is not the first thing you want to do. And that is one of the reasons I wanted this as a podcast topic because I think people get either, like I said, A, confused or B, don’t realize or think about the time it takes to do all of the backend business stuff so that you’re ready to get out there and market. Then once you’re marketing, you have to walk these physicians through the sales process. That takes a little bit of time too. So I want you guys to come away from this podcast episode with an idea of how long it’s going to take to get this moving so that you can decide when you want to be out there marketing to your doctors and backtrack that out so when you need to start that actual business inception.

Okay? So you have other minor costs, like supplies for your offices, getting your marketing materials printed, business insurance, and marketing costs for going out and marketing the services. Like I said, we’re not doing radio, TV advertising, or anything that costs a ton of money. You can really kind of put this budget together based on the money you want to be putting out because a lot of times, what’s going to cost us going out marketing is gas, driving around to these offices our time. So we’re going to have to have some time set aside to be able to do this. And I’ll talk a little bit about that here in a second too. But the main like cost you’ll have going out and marketing to your physician offices is if your practices require you to provide lunch for the office to give your spiel and talk about your services.

So that is your marketing budget is these lunch and learn meetings that you’ll have with your physician practices. And so, like I said, you can really kind of come up with your preferred monthly budget for this and stick to that, and you can see if that’s going to work. You may have some bigger offices that, of course, are going to be a little bit more expensive than the smaller offices you’re going into, but that’s why we go through that kind of sales process with our students to try to keep as much getting that face-to-face time with the physicians. If we can get that first before we have to set up before we’re, we are required to set up a lunch appointment; that’s the best way to do it. Get in there for free, rather than going in there and having to provide lunches if we don’t have to.

And so that’s one of the things we’re really specific about with our students on that whole sales and marketing setup. So the couple other little things we, we talked about marketing your services through lunches and that type of thing, hosting your website, geez doctors, I know this is 2020, but you all know how much our doctors love their fax machines, and so we have like an Efax that come straight to our emails. I think it costs $10 or $15 a month. So there are those minor business expenses, but the main one is that machine, which is why we suggest waiting to finalize that first account before you’re looking at purchasing or leasing the equipment. Okay, going along with trying to quell that fear that you may have as you’re thinking about this is talking a little bit about how many clients it takes to get you where you need to be.

So a quick note for any newbies, any new podcast listeners, or anybody new to myself talking about all of this because we suggest, and you’ll find this on a lot of the podcasts if you want to take a listen, is setting things up initially doing a service fee model for your mobile ultrasound business as opposed to billing insurance for multiple different reasons. I have numerous podcasts where I talk about this more in-depth, but just to give you if you haven’t listened to those, just to give you a quick overview and for those of you who need that quick overview too, even if you’ve listened to it before, the best way to initially start your business up is to provide services on a service fee basis where your physician client is billing insurance directly because they’re already credentialed, they are already sending requests for reimbursement out for all the other services they’re doing in the office.

They would add this as a service option, they would bill insurance, they get paid for the ultrasound, and then you charge them a service fee for providing this in their office. There are multiple benefits to doing it this way versus billing insurance. And so, if you have questions about that, go take a listen to a few of the other podcasts that I’ve done that talk about billing insurance because there are a lot of hoops to jump through. It’s not the best way to start your business initially because it costs a lot more and is extremely time-consuming. So if you want to bill insurance, I’m not saying you can’t; I’m just saying it’s best to start up the service fee way first because you can always be getting credentialed with insurance on the backend while you are making money from these practices where you’re going in and providing things on a service fee setup.

Now, when you do a service fee setup with your physician practices, when you bring in the tech and the equipment charged by the patient, you cannot charge by the patient. It is not legal to set it up that way. It’s that per click. If you’ve seen that if you’ve tried to look anything up on stark, that per click, no-no, we can’t set it up that way. So we have to bill by the hour. And so, it makes the most sense to book half days or full days when you’re providing these service fee basis services inside your physician offices. So if you have a small client doing, let’s say, a half day a week, you only need 10 of those clients. If you have a client doing a full day a week, you only need five of those clients. So you don’t need many clients as a sole operator to book you up five days a week.

So I think people get so scared about the marketing and so scared about because that’s a lot of times not the forte of an ultrasound tech. You’ve never been a marketing person or salesperson before, so that can be a little nerve-wracking. So, I just want to remind people you’re not always in that sales mode; you’re in that sales and marketing mode until you book yourself up enough accounts where you’re ready to stop marketing service to all the clients that you have. You only need to start marketing again when you need to add on more accounts. So I have some students who are moms, and they want to have a few days a week off where they can hang out with their kiddos. So they went to physician’s offices two or three days a week, and that was their goal.

So they didn’t need as many accounts as someone who wants five days a week or five days a week with multiple machines and multiple techs. I think the cool part about this business is that you can make it whatever you want. And so you don’t need a ton of clients initially to get that going. Now I have to have a caveat to that. Of course, there’s not an easy button. You have to work hard to get your name out there, prospecting, marketing, etc. There’s no easy button for the work you have to put in; that’s where I see students fail. They hear a few no’s, and they crumble. We’ve got to work through those no’s to get to the yeses. You’re going to get no’s. That is the nature of sales. But if we are putting enough people through that sales process and you realize I only need five to 10 physician offices that will work with me, you start to realize you don’t need that many.

And so those few nos are okay because you’re moving through to those yeses, right? Okay, now that we have a little background on what you’re looking to do, what kind of those initial goals are? How many clients do I need? What does my business need to look like for me? And come up with your goals and aspirations for what you want your business to look like. Let’s figure out when and how you should get moving on that business inception. So for our students, okay, and I’m, I’m using our students as an example, we usually see that it takes about 90 days, so about three months from when they first get going through our course, okay? They sign on as a student, they start learning all the things they get their businesses incorporated, they get their marketing materials started finalized, start gathering prospects, all of those things.

And I’ve made that list very short. It’s a lot of things to do. That’s why we love having a step-by-step Here is exactly what you need to have put together before you’re ready to get out there and start marketing to your prospects; once you’re out, marketing to your doctors, okay? So that process takes about three months or so. We’ve had, we have some people that, that do it quicker. We have other people that are more leisurely with it. So, it depends on your goals for that process and how long you want it to take. But the average, good average to give you an idea is about three months or 90 days once you’re out marketing to your doctors. So that’s getting everything ready to get out and start marketing. It usually takes another 60 days or so to get that first account.

So another couple of months to get that first account. Now that depends on many factors; it depends on how often you can get out and market. It depends on how many physicians you see when you are out. So there’s a lot of things that kind of come into that. So for our students, it’s about a five-month process from I am signing up as a student to getting that first account. So give or take, like I said, I’ve had students that have gotten their account within two weeks after starting to market. I’ve had others who it’s taken longer than that 60-day mark. Either they were super leisurely about it, maybe they only had one day a week, they could go out and market, and they wanted to stay within their current situation with their employer before they modified any timeframes or anything like that.

Obviously, if you’ve got somebody going out three or four days a week as opposed to somebody doing it one day a week. In that case, you have to be as efficient as possible when you’re doing it in less time and realize it’s going to take probably a little bit longer than somebody who has multiple days per week to do that. Again, another great thing about this business is that you don’t have to quit your job. You can do these things as a side hustle, and I have a whole podcast on that. So that’s another great one to listen to. If you’re considering doing this and you’re not going to be quitting your job. In that case, you want to do this more as a side hustle when starting out before getting everything going and switching over straight from your employer to a business owner 100%. So this is a really good average just to give you guys an I, and I always have to note that this is our students using a specific step-by-step plan.

So if you are doing this on your own, that timeframe will likely be pushed out by a few months or so because you’ll have to figure a lot of these things out on your own, right? So if you say, okay, I want to be out scanning and making money at my first account in the next six months, you need to be finalizing that business inception about five or six months before that. Okay? So this isn’t an overnight thing, and that’s why I think it’s so great being able to start out with such low overhead and do a lot of this stuff before heading out to market kind of behind the scenes, right? So we’re doing so many behind-the-scenes things that you don’t have to quit your job; you can have an evening or on the weekend is when you hustle, and you’re getting all this back in stuff done over that first three-month period as you’re working on the business inception, getting all of your marketing materials done, learning all the things so that you can be ready to hit the ground running after all of that is complete.

I think so many times people think, okay, I want to start my business in the next six months or 12 months be out at my first account, but they don’t realize there’s a timeframe before that. The marketing part, as I said too, takes a bit of time because you have to walk through those sales process steps with those physicians. And so we’re meeting with them multiple times to kind of get them through that sales process. So it’s definitely not an overnight thing. So I mean, like I said, one of the main reasons I wanted to do this podcast topic is because I do get calls from people all the time saying, Hey, I want to start next summer. Okay, that’s a year from now, as I’m recording this right now; it’s June, and I’m recording this podcast here.

Those of you wanting to do that and you want to be ready by next summer, be out. Scanning in your first physician’s office, you need to be getting things moving in November, December, and January to accomplish that goal because it will take five or six months to do that. And especially during the winter, trying to get all this stuff put together when people are out for vacation for the holidays and that type of thing, those wanting to be out in six months or less from now, you need to be moving now to meet that goal. So this is just a question I get so much, and I just think people don’t understand the ease of being, being able to do stuff, be the scenes before you even get out there to market to your physicians.

All that can be done behind the scenes while you’re still working before you even look at manipulating or setting up new hours at your current employer. So I think this is just so important because, again, you don’t know what you don’t know, and if, if it’s something that you’re looking at doing a timeframe and having that timeframe that it’s going to take you to get things accomplished so that you can get out there and start marketing to your doctors is so important. Okay? I have been working on a new startup guide for you guys. It is a combination of all the things you need to know when considering starting this business. I took a look at this as, okay, when I take a decision support call, when I’ve got somebody who’s looking at the ultrasound business academy, what do I want them to know ahead of time before we get on this call before they’re jumping into getting their business started and ready to work with us on that end. So that is what I use to put this startup guide together for you. So you can go grab it at aic-ultrasound.com/startup. So aic-ultrasound.com/startup to grab yours. I’m so excited for this one. I hope this episode helps you plan out your business inception. Take that date you’d like to be scanning, start making money in that first account, and backtrack it to see when you need to get things moving. Grab that startup guide to help you through it all, and until next time, I am over here cheering you on.

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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