a sonographer's guide to entrepreneurship

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Episode 33: Tips to Starting your Own 3D Ultrasound Business

Join Jennifer Lindsey, your host, in an exciting episode as she delves into the intricacies of the 3D ultrasound business model. With years of experience in the ultrasound industry, Jennifer shares valuable insights and success stories to guide aspiring entrepreneurs.

Key Points:

  • Limitless Revenue Potential:
    • As CEOs of our own company, we have the advantage of unlocking endless revenue potential compared to the earnings ceiling faced by employees.
    • A client success story highlights the transformative journey from a capped role at a hospital to a thriving mobile ultrasound business.
  • Entrepreneurial Triggers:
    • Recognizing triggers that prompt individuals to take the leap into entrepreneurship.
    • Encouragement to identify those pivotal moments and overcome fears to embrace the entrepreneurial path.
  • Diversification for Growth:
    • Stressing the importance of diversifying business models for sustained and dynamic growth.
    • Lessons from Jennifer’s experience in exploring various revenue streams within the ultrasound industry.
  • Market Gaps as Opportunities:
    • Understanding market gaps, exemplified by the current staffing shortage causing delays in ultrasound appointments.
    • Advocacy for smaller companies to seize these gaps as opportunities to provide tailored services and stand out against larger competitors.
  • 3D Ultrasound Business Model:
    • Options include providing services in patient homes, operating a dedicated facility, or adopting a hybrid approach.
    • Strategic addition of diagnostic services, with a focus on OB diagnostics, to enhance and diversify revenue streams.
  • Success Mindset:
    • Emphasizing the significance of maintaining a positive mindset and viewing challenges as opportunities for business evolution.
    • Insights into Jennifer Lindsey’s personal experiences and mindset shift when faced with obstacles.
  • Upcoming Workshop Announcement:
    • Jennifer Lindsey invites listeners to a free workshop starting on January 29, offering in-depth insights into launching an ultrasound business.
    • The workshop covers diverse business models, sales processes, and provides valuable frameworks from the Ultrasound Business Academy.


In this episode, Jennifer Lindsey passionately guides listeners through the 3D ultrasound business model, sharing success stories, entrepreneurial insights, and valuable strategies for growth. Join her on this entrepreneurial journey and don’t miss our upcoming workshop for in-depth knowledge on launching a successful ultrasound business. 

Register for this free workshop here: https://aic-ultrasound.com/start-your-biz-workshop

Follow Jen on social media!

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I am so excited to be chatting in today’s episode about the 3D ultrasound business model. We have done multiple business models inside the ultrasound industry in different podcasts. I love chatting through the eight different ways we have in the ultrasound industry to create revenue to serve our communities, and this one is much anticipated. I have had so many people ask me to do a podcast on the 3D ultrasound business model, so I can’t wait to chat through those things today. I want to remind you, because it’s been a few episodes since we’ve done a business models series episode, I want you to remember that as the CEO in the driver’s seat of your company, your revenue potential is literally endless, right? I was chatting with a client a few months ago. We were talking about what that trigger was that caused her to say, okay, this is it.


I am starting my own business. Sometimes we need that push, that leap, something to happen in our lives where we do the thing that we’ve been thinking about doing for a long time, and hers was when she went into her annual review, she was working at the hospital and they said to her, Hey, you are at the cap. You’re at the top of the ceiling here and there’s no more salary available increases unless you want to get into management. And she just did not want to get into managing. She wanted to stay in the position she was at, and that was really her trigger to say, you know what? This is something I’ve been thinking about. This is something I want to do, and that is what caused her to take the leap. She is doing incredibly well, has her own mobile ultrasound business. She’s been a client of hours for years at this point, and I love sharing that story because I think it is that trigger.


Something happens a lot of times where we’re like, okay, this is it. This is why I am going to go ahead and do the thing that scares me, right? That thing I’ve been thinking about and really take that leap. It’s also a reminder too that we do hit a ceiling when we are an employee of someone else. And so let that be your reminder that you can utilize and go back through the business model series in the podcast because we talk about mobile ultrasound fee for service. We talk about having your own facility. Today’s episode is all about 3D ultrasound, and so remembering that we have access to multiple different ways to streamline our revenue


And to additional market opportunities is so important. And coming from healthcare, that’s a business side of things. We don’t a lot of times have light shed on and understanding, oh, this is an option for me. So if you’re looking at 3D ultrasound as an example, understand that there are multiple other ways for you to continue to grow your business over time. Creating a scenario where revenue is literally unlimited, we can create an unlimited amount of revenue in our businesses, and so you’ll hear me talk all the time about diversification. It is not putting our eggs all in one basket. That is one of the best ways to grow your market is starting out with one business model or a hybrid of a few that makes sense to put together. As an example for 3D Ultrasound, I highly recommend if you don’t do it right away, doing it fairly soon after, but adding in diagnostics, even if it’s just diagnostics to start out with because that is so easy.


It’s the same ideal client, it’s the same clientele. You are adding additional types of services to increase the ways in which patients clients can work with you, and that only opens market up to additional ways for you to create revenue streams within your business. And we’ll talk a few about a few other ways in 3D to be able to do that, but thinking about the opportunity that you have to serve patients in your communities, looking at what they’re asking for, looking at what your physicians in your communities are asking for, looking for the gaps in the market, that is a huge way to understand what your next step in your business can be is, looking at the gaps in the market. It’s also a great way to really let yourself stand out against competition as well. There’s always a gap, and what I mean by a gap in the market is I’m going to use mobile ultrasound as an example here for just a moment because I just had this conversation with a client the other day.


Their huge gap in the market is that staffing is at an all time low in their area, and I think that’s true kind of across the board right now for a lot of different industries, staffing’s at an all time low, and so patients are having to wait over a month for an ultrasound when a physician’s ordering it. Now we all know what kind of trouble that causes in all different levels, right? It’s stressful for the patient. Their physician’s obviously ordering this ultrasound for a reason. Now they’ve got to wait a month to even get it done. And so the gap in their market is that what they can do to fill that is provide services in these physician practices where they literally can get service that same week. If they’re going into that physician practice, let’s say as an example, once a week, their patients are never going to have to wait more than a week now to get service.


If that physician practice, if they go into one that has more practitioners, more patient load, it may even be a scenario where they’re going in multiple times a week. Here in our own ultrasound business right here in Indiana, we have clients. We’re going in to multiple different practices of theirs multiple times a week. So it depends on the patient’s load of these practices, but this is a huge gap that they can fill in their market and there’s always a gap, so there’s always a gap. So this is the way they’re competing with a huge hospital. They’re able to fill a gap because they’re a smaller company and because they can provide more tailored services. So always looking for that gap in the market and what your community is asking for. It’s how we’ve built our business from an idea to a six figure a year business to a seven figure a year business, and we continue to grow year after year because we are continuing to add additional types of services based upon what our client’s, patients, students are asking for.


So understanding that as an employee, our earnings potential is capped, and then understanding that us as the CEO of our business, it is absolutely unlimited. So the sky is the limit here, really, you can continue to build kind of an existing model. So if 3D is your thing, you can continue to build that, but one thing I would highly recommend is looking at diversifying your services so that you’re giving the market what they’re asking for and also not putting all your eggs in one basket. So you’ve got multiple streams of revenue coming in from multiple different service opportunities that you have. Now, many of you may not know this, but we actually started our business, next month is 20 years ago as a facility, and we catered to mamas for 3D ultrasound. That’s how we started our business. Now we knew very quickly we wanted to add in diagnostics, and we did.


So we did that very soon after startup, and as we grew, of course, we added in mobile ultrasound services. When we started that division, I met with a lot of physicians who were very interested in our services, and I want to make mention of this. I know we’re talking about 3D specifically here, but I want to remind you that when you get into your market, you may not grab market share right away. We’ve got to figure out the best way in our market to market our services and then adding in additional types of opportunities based upon what that community is asking for, and we won’t know until we get out and start marketing our services. And I’ll give you an example of that. So when we started our mobile division, right, going out and providing mobile diagnostic services, we had a lot of physicians that said, Hey, I love the idea of having this in the practice.


It’s very convenient for the patients for us. We don’t want to deal with the billing. And so I want to make mention of that because what I could have done, this is a mindset shift we all have to have coming from an employee into the CEO of our company. What I could have done is said, oh man, this was a mistake. We shouldn’t have started to offer these services. This is something that I’m getting multiple physicians telling me the same thing. Love the idea, don’t want to do the billing. Instead of having the mindset of, wow, this obstacle that I’m facing is something that’s telling me to turn around and go back the other way. I made a list of all of those doctors and so I knew, wow, would we add in services in the future? The next one we may want to add into our practice is being able to bill because my goodness, now I’ve got a list of doctors that would consider this service inside their practice if we set it up in a way in which we were providing the billing services, and that’s what we did.


So I’m giving you the example of how we grew over time from literally an idea to creating a 3D facility, adding in diagnostics, adding in mobile fee for service, adding in mobile where we were billing. Of course, we have added in ultrasound business coaching. We have an equipment division, we have an education center division. So understanding that you will face obstacles in your business and you choose how you react to those right? Now, I’m not saying every decision we always make is the best one and that we should continue to drive something that is obviously not working, but understanding that not everyone in our market is going to want the exact service that we have and what we’re doing by listening to what they want. When we get enough of those people, now we understand, wow, okay, our market wants X, Y, Z, and I’m able to provide that.


Should I get enough people that I feel like would benefit from that type of service? And so looking at these opportunities as opportunities and looking at these nos instead of them as roadblocks, but opportunities for the next evolution of our business is so critical. So I want to focus on 3D. Now that we’ve kind of gotten that part out of the way, that mindset is so incredibly important because I see this day in and day out in my clients, those that are able to recover more quickly, and I talked about this in the last podcast episode, recover more quickly and have that clarification on this obstacle is in my way. How do I pivot to turn this into an opportunity or get around this specific roadblock as opposed to allowing it to crush them in a way where they are now not able to move forward.


And so mindset is so critical. Let’s understand and talk a little bit more about the details of 3D ultrasound because a multitude of ways that we can provide services. So you can absolutely do mobile services out into patient homes. I see this a lot. I follow a lot of you guys on Instagram. I see a lot of incredible 3D businesses providing services inside patient homes, doing the sweetest services with patient families and having it as part of the baby shower. I mean, it’s absolutely adorable having this inside the patient homes, we have a ton of our clients as well that do this inside their own facility. And so you could also easily do a hybrid of both of those, right? Having your own small facility and then also providing these services out into patient homes within a specific mile radius to come and provide those services.


I really highly recommend looking at also adding in diagnostics to this as well. So it could be diagnostics into patient homes, and it could be adding diagnostics into your facility. I’m hosting a workshop starting next week, and I will absolutely be putting Maria one of my clients on with her detailed information of how she has grown her business in this exact way and looking at what her community needs, looking at what she can provide. She does a ton of different things, mobile diagnostics inside her practice, her own facility out at patient homes, 3D ultrasound. I mean, she has utilized this concept so well and I love to really give her the credit she deserves, right? She’s taken our frameworks, we teach inside our ultrasound business academy program and used them to a T and I’m so proud of her. I’d love to invite you guys to That workshop starts next week, January 29th.


We’re going to be chatting all about putting this together and understanding the frameworks to do so. So we’ll definitely be highlighting her. And I wanted to make mention of that because she has utilized exactly what I’m talking about here. She does a multitude of these things and added in diagnostics, and I think a lot of times people think that adding diagnostics in is going to be so difficult for them to do, and I want to encourage you to understand that it is not that difficult. Now, if you are looking at getting credentialed with insurance, there is a whole other layer there. We have to have a medical director or what Medicare calls a supervising physician. Those terms are usually used interchangeably. You do have to have a medical director if you are going to bill insurance for the patient’s exam. Now, if you are taking self-pay from these patients for their diagnostic exams, you don’t need a medical director.


You simply need a radiologist or an OB/GYN to be reading these OB and GYN diagnostic studies. You also need a PAC system to be able to push those images to that interpreting physician. Those are basically the extras that you’ll need to be able to provide these services. Of course, HIPAA paperwork and patient paperwork and all of those kinds of things. However, it’s not as difficult, I think, or as confusing as a lot of people assume that it is because it’s just so far outside of people’s knowledge base, right? When we start our business up, we’re starting with very little knowledge of that and we gain that knowledge as we go. So I want you to understand it really isn’t, especially if you’re doing self-pay diagnostics, very difficult to add in diagnostic services even beyond OB, right? You could absolutely start there because that’s kind of your target market is pregnant mamas, right?


But you could absolutely add in additional diagnostic services, have multiple clients who have done that. Now, a few things that you want to think about when you are starting or expanding into 3D ultrasound, you will want to check to see if an order is required for your ultrasound services. This is important because when we’re doing 3D ultrasound, any elective ultrasound, right screenings, those types of things, we need to make sure in our state whether or not an order is required for that ultrasound. You can really only unfortunately find this out by chatting with an attorney. It is almost impossible to look this up just by Googling because it’s usually hidden in some state statute, a bunch of other things, right? And it’s just for the lay person, not an easy thing to find. So I would definitely suggest finding a healthcare attorney that can look this up.


Find someone who works on more of a project based services rather than a retainer based service. So a retainer, when you work with an attorney, they will either usually work on a retainer basis or a project basis. Project basis means I come to them and say, Hey, need to find out in my state whether or not an order is required for ultrasound services. Here’s the type of thing I’m looking to do. They would come to me as a project based service and say, okay, Jen, that’s going to take approximately three hours for us to research and figure out and come up with information for you. We charge X number of dollars per hour. So now I know, let’s say they charge a hundred dollars an hour, which likely they do not, especially if they’re a healthcare attorney, but it’s easy math for me here. They charge a hundred dollars an hour.


They tell me it’s going to take three hours. I know it’s going to be a budget of about 300 bucks for me to figure this out, right? On the other hand, there are some attorneys that work on a retainer basis, and that retainer can be a multitude of different amounts, right? You may have some attorneys that have a $500 retainer. You may have some that have a $2,500 retainer, which means you pay the retainer upfront. So I tell them, Hey, I need to find out X, Y, Z about orders in my state. They say, great, our retainer’s $2,500. You owe us 2,500. It’s going to take us about three hours to figure that out at a hundred dollars an hour. So they’re taking my $2,500 deducting out the three hours that it took them, and now I have all of the rest of that money in a bank, so to speak with them.


So next time I need something, it’s coming out of that $2,500 until that 2,500 is down to zero. So it makes more sense if you’re just needing this one little thing to work with an attorney on a project basis. Now, contracts and all of that are totally different. So I mean, the last contract we had our healthcare attorneys do, I think was about $15,000. So these little one-off things though I would definitely look at hiring an attorney, figuring out if you do find out that you need an order, you can have your reading physician, your interpreting doc, write an order and keep that on file so you have that on file for everyone. So that’s kind of the workaround there if you do find out that you need an order in your state. Now, I’ll also make mention as well, you as the CEO create your own protocols here, right?


So in Indiana, I mean we are just like the wild west out here, I guess because we don’t need an order for any ultrasound elective or diagnostic For us though personally, I don’t feel comfortable as the owner of the business allowing people to come in who want a diagnostic ultrasound without an order from a physician. Because whoever is ordering, and if you’re watching this video, you can see me using air quotes here. Whoever’s ordering the ultrasound is the one who gets the report. So if a patient is ordering their own ultrasound, they’re self referring to our office, I’m sending the report to them, not their physician. Their physician isn’t the one who ordered it, I don’t feel comfortable doing that. If there’s some major issue or something like that, I want to know that that actually made it to a physician. So for us, that’s our policy is that we require an order even though our state doesn’t require it as the law.


Does that make sense? So you have the ultimate say, but it’s nice for those elective ultrasounds to know, can my patients self-refer to me for these elective scans, screenings, 3D, those types of things, or do I need to have an order on file? And then again, you’ll want to look at we are a business and we’re here to serve. And I will say this until I’m blue in the face. Chasing revenue versus chasing service is a hugely different mindset in business, and I 1000% recommend chasing, serving others because when you do that, your customer service is top notch. The services you provide are top notch. Your patients, your clients, whoever you’re working with are going to absolutely love you because you are leading with service. When we lead with revenue mindset, we are chasing the dollar, and that is much different than chasing serving others.


And we end up in a scenario, yes, revenue’s important. We are a business. We have to pay the bills. We are running a for-profit company. We want to be making profits in our businesses, but at the end of the day, if I’m chasing the dollar, I am chasing the dollar at the detriment of service, at the detriment of my team, at the detriment of all of the things that are really important to provide something that when a student, a client, a patient, whoever you’re working with walks away want them to walk away saying, wow, that was incredible. I was loved on, I was taken care of, and you can’t get that same outcome chasing a dollar. So I highly suggest chasing service with the understanding that when you do that and you do it well, and you also pay attention to metrics and all of that in your business, the revenue always comes.


It really does. It really does. I’m living proof of that. Absolutely. You want to look at talking about revenue, you want to look at other opportunities to serve your clients while creating additional revenue streams in your practice. So looking at things about adding on boutique items for your pregnant mamas gender reveal items. Some are adding in even making their facility like a mama oasis, like prenatal massages and all different kinds of things. Really catering to the mom in that stage of her life, which I love. So many too are doing those 8K images, which just blow my mind, especially because we started out in 3D 20 years ago. I mean, just the technology and everything has come so far. Absolutely. So I really suggest looking at if I’m doing 3D, what other things can I provide that my community needs that my mamas are going to want that’s going to serve them well and also create revenue streams into our practice?


In every business, we want to look at who our ideal client is, and I mentioned that because I have some sonographers that I talk to, even clients that we work with that they know there are so many options for them to provide these services and they’ll go kind of willy-nilly with choosing things to do. So I highly suggest starting with one business model or a hybrid of a few that makes sense to put together, and I mentioned that because we have to understand who our ICA is, right? Our ideal client avatar, as they call it in sales, we need to understand who our ideal client is because our marketing needs to speak to that one client. So for 3D and OB diagnostics and all of that, we are speaking to pregnant moms. Now, our marketing is also going to of course, hit pregnant moms, mamas, right?


Grandma who wants to buy a gift certificate to allow them to come in for a 3D ultrasound or a best friend who’s looking for something awesome for their baby shower gift, right? All of that will come, but we want to talk to the one person who is our ideal client, and I mentioned that because it would be very difficult to start a business and initially from out the gate do 3D ultrasound and also mobile diagnostics into physician practices because those are two totally separate ideal clients. One is a pregnant mom. My marketing is going to be like business to consumer. I’m going to be marketing to pregnant moms. My marketing needs to look like it’s going towards pregnant moms. If I’m marketing to physicians, I’m on different social media platforms for that. I’m marketing in a completely different way for that. My marketing looks completely different when my ideal client is a physician.


So not that you cannot add those services in, that is not what I’m saying at all. We absolutely did that, and I highly suggest looking at other options in your area as your business grows, but it’s too much to try to do two kind of totally polar opposite business models when you initially start. So I absolutely suggest figuring out one business model or a hybrid of a few that work together, AKA 3D ultrasound and OB diagnostics perfect blend, or doing a facility 3D and mobile 3D, right? That is a huge benefit to doing a hybrid there because it’s the same ideal client and all of those things, our marketing is looking the same. It’s just a different way in which we’re providing the actual services and then making sure we are focusing on the right types of tasks in our business that are revenue generating tasks that are going to get us people into our door, people creating those appointments as quickly as possible, and it’s such an opportunity, this business model to really serve the patients in our community in more of a fun way, and I love that.


I also wanted to mention, again, if you are looking for more details, there’s only so much we can go through on these podcasts, and I like to keep them fairly short so they are easily bingeable and you guys can listen to these on the way to work or whatever you are doing. I want to offer you the invite to our workshop that we are hosting starting on January 29th. I would love for you to come and attend. There are a couple ways that you can get the links to register. We’re going to put them in the show notes here. I actually think this podcast is coming out on the 29th, and so if you’re listening to this, I want to invite you into our workshop. We are really diving into the frameworks of starting your own ultrasound business in a multitude of ways. We’re going to talk about the eight different business models.


We’re going to talk about narrowing that down and figuring out what your sales process looks like for each of those business models. So we’re really diving into the structure, the startup plan, all of those. We’re teaching the frameworks we teach inside our ultrasound business academy and a high level. We’ve got a workbook for you. We’re working through all the things, and we’ll be live during that workshop series. So there’s a couple ways to register. Head down to the show notes here. There is a link to register there. You can hop over just directly to our website, which aic-ultrasound.com. You can come hang out with me on social media and DM me the word workshop, and we will make sure to get you that link. I am so excited about this workshop. It is our first one of the new year. My team and I are showing up. You paid a million bucks for it, but it’s absolutely free. I cannot wait to see you there, and I hope this was helpful laying out a little bit more about the 3D ultrasound business model.

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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