Medical Practice: Understand The Business

public-speaking-firstpointI was talking to a friend the other day who’s trying to get a public speaking business going. He was telling me about one of his recent gigs and how several people came up to him after his presentation to ask him for his presentation slides.

He told me he was happy that people thought his material was good; but at the same time, he was offended that someone wanted him to hand over the slides he worked so hard on. He said that most of the people that came up to him were college professors, as if saying, “how dare they want my material.”

I told him I thought he was looking at it the wrong way.

I told him he had a big problem. He wanted to get this new public speaking career off the ground, but nobody knows who he is. He has all this great content, but nobody knows he has it.

By not sharing the slides, I told him, he missed an opportunity to let others know about his work. Those professors probably teach hundreds of kids in a given year. If five professors share the presentation with their students, my friend could have potentially had several hundred people now know who he is.

I asked him, “What is your business? How do you make money?” He responded by saying, “speaking.” Right! “So you are not going to lose any money by giving the slides away.” I said. Give them to anybody that wants it. Heck, tell them to share it with anybody they want. Just make sure all your contact information is on the deck (i.e. email, website, Twitter, Facebook, blog, everything).

“But what if those professors steal my work?”

I said, “let’s think about this… if people “steal” his stuff, if anything, that is validation that his stuff is really good. If nobody bothers, then he has bigger problems.

But let’s give people the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say they don’t steal his stuff (I would argue this is safe assumption considering professors are keen about plagiarism), but instead they share it with everybody. At least by sharing the slides, he has a better chance of jump-starting the business. Whereas by not sharing the content there is NO chance he will get known.

The turning point for my friend was understanding that his business was speaking, not the slides. However, he could use the slides as an advertising vehicle to promote his work.


Google does it best

A perfect example of understanding this notion is Google. What is Google’s business? Gmail? Google Maps? Search? Google Chrome? Google Earth? No! Their business is advertising.  Would Google have become the giant it is if they charged for search? Probably not.

googleappsSo, how does Google drive usage? By creating all these cool services that drive eyeballs. And eyeballs drive advertising dollars.

Google understands their business.


Know the business

There is a lot of talk about how the Obama administration is going to reform health care. I suspect regardless of the final outcome, consumers of health care will have their skin in the game one way or another. Consequently, patients will discern more than ever price vs. value vs. outcome. 

As medicine becomes more a more like a traditional business, we as practice leaders need to understand what drives our businesses. Like Google and my speaker friend, we need to comprehend what drives value vs. what drives revenue vs what is contributory.

Because to compete in this new, value-driven and aggressive health care market place, our doctors will require our leadership to carefully rethink each component of the business. For our survival requires bold and decisive actions.


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  1. Great post! I’m not in the health care industry but I find the same thing with my design and marketing clients. They want to be noticed, found, discovered but often refuse to share the stuff that could get them there. Being generous can only lead to bigger and better things.

    You can see people’s thinking shift a little. The internet is making people feel that everything, especially information, should be free. Might as well give something away for free, so that you can grab attention for the part that really matters, the sale!

    Thanks again for the great read.


  2. Brandon says:


    You hit it on the head! It doesn’t matter what business one is in; we all need customers. How to find those customers will require new ways of thinking.

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

    BTW – Welcome to the blogosphere.

    You can check out Ryan’s new blog (and design company) here:




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