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. So, today, we are going to chat about the 5 ways to start your mobile ultrasound business as a side hustle.
#1. First things first, you have GOT to have time to go out and meet with physicians. Getting out there and hitting the pavement is a MUST. If chatting on the phone, or emailing, or messaging on LinkedIn 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 day vying for the doctor's attention. Getting in and visiting face to face works. Some businesses work in an online environment, but this definitely isn’t one of them!
So, we have to set aside some time during normal business hours to get out there and get in those physician offices. Now, there is also a lot of behind-the-scenes work that can be done in the evenings and on the weekends, but your IPAs (or Income Producing Activities) need to be done during office hours.
So how do we do that? Each of our students is different: we have some that already have a day or two off because they may work four 10 hour shifts, or work on the weekends, or perhaps they do PRN work and can optimize their schedule a bit. That is the perfect set up because they don’t need to change anything – they can hit the ground running with their schedule already adaptable to getting things moving. Those of you working 5 days a week, Monday through Friday are going to have to look at options to alter that. Some employers will give you the option to do four 10's for example, or perhaps add a weekend option, but maybe this is the time to consider looking at another employment option while you’re building your business.
The thing to remember here is that change is hard. It’s work, and it’s out of your comfort zone. So if you’re reading this and thinking “ughhhh I don’t want to deal with that. 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 your comfort zone a LOT more than being an employee. But, the benefits can definitely outweigh the discomfort. If you’re looking at the opportunity of making $20,000 a month gross revenue having your own business, its gonna take some discomfort to get you there. Unless you win the lottery or your parents leave you millions, get rich quick schemes just don’t work. Nobody gets rich quick, we get rich slow by putting in the work. Am I right?
#2. WAIT to buy that ultrasound machine! I say this all the time, but I have to say it again. As ultrasound techs, this part is the MOST fun! I think getting your logo and getting your 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 getting your ultrasound system is so exciting because at that point you’re OFFICIAL and ready to go scan your own patients!
But, a lot of people I talk think one of the first things to do is get your system, and we suggest just the opposite. 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, I’ve had students get their first account in 2 weeks. And I’ve had others that take a lot longer than 90 days, so everyone is going to be different. And of course it is going to depend on your amount of marketing effort and work ethic and heck 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 be paying for your ultrasound system while it sits there collecting dust because you’ve not started your first account yet? 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 – really quickly for those of you who haven’t heard me talk about this a service fee set up is where your physician client bills insurance for the ultrasound because they’re already credentialed with insurance, and you as the ultrasound provider simply charge the physician a fee for utilizing your services. This way you don’t have to wait the agonizing MONTHS it takes (I know this from experience) for insurance to accept or decline you, and when you DO set up your business this way where you’re waiting for insurance credentialing you DO have to buy your machine and have it collect dust for months while you’re paying on it, because you have to put the serial number of the machine on your paperwork. It just doesn’t make as much business sense to set it up that way. You 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’re providing the service through a contract with the physician. This can be one of your biggest initial expenses, which is why we include these necessary contracts for our students. Such a huge cost saver, and we’re so excited to be able to do that!
#3. Have a Plan in place BEFORE you start your business. This can be one of the most difficult things because you don’t know what you don’t know. We are prime examples of this. We started our business 16 years ago and migrated from a clinic into mobile ultrasound on a wing and a prayer, as I say! We had no clue what we were doing, and we put our brains together to come 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. Great learning experiences of course, but those experiences cost us a lot of time and a lot of money we could have saved had we followed a plan someone ELSE had already put in place. 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. Franchise owners get the HUGE benefit of a literal STEP BY STEP plan. They know exactly how to start the business, because they have a manual with every detail given to them. They know how to market their business, because they have ALL of that information right at their fingertips. They know how to deal with clients and customers because it’s all been done before and there is a duplicable plan.
When you start on your own without that amount of stringent details, you start like we did – on a wing and a prayer. :) Thank the Lord in Heaven we stuck with it through all the tough times because we are at a place today that has transformed so far beyond where we started. I think EVERY business owner has those internal struggles when times get tough (and they WILL get tough, no matter what type of plan you have in place!) because who fixes the problem? YOU. You don’t have a boss or an HR rep or your hospital Administrators swooping in to deal with stuff – it’s on you. You start to wonder, "jeez am I cut out for this?" "Can I handle this?"
Listen to me here - you have GOT to put that negativity aside and realize that feeling is normal. It's normal so you need to acknowledge it, and then restructure your thoughts to “I AM cut out for this – what do I need to do to fix it? Who can I ask to help? What can I research to help me find the answers?"
Now let me say this again, 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 having a tried and true plan in place makes those trials fewer and more far between.
This is what I love so much about what I do. We are able to work with our students and give them that “franchise” plan without all the franchise cost. SO COOL. Being in the business of helping others succeed is the most rewarding thing I’ve done. If you need a little help coming up with the basics of that plan, make sure to grab our Freebie – 6 things to consider when starting your mobile ultrasound business - you can grab that HERE! Good basic info to have on hand!
#4. You need to be able to figure out how to use your time WISELY. This can be one of the hardest things because you 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 all of this extra “stuff” you’ve now got to get done. My suggestion is that during the days you have availability during office hours, you focus on your IPAS – remember IPAs are your Income Producing Activities. You’ll have a TON on your to-do list, and most are going to be back end items that have to get done, but the IPAs are the activities that actually move the needle for you. So, these would include meeting with physicians, checking in on potential contracts, following up with offices who had interest in your service, etc.
An example of a non-IPA item would include putting together a list of docs to call on, that can be done in the evening or on the weekend so that when its business hours, you’ve got that DONE so you can focus on the actual meeting part of that task.
We have to get a business owner mindset here – we can’t think like an employee any longer. We have to realize that ALL the tasks fall on us. Like I said before, there isn’t an admin person or boss or anyone like that – if it’s gonna get done WE are gonna have to do it. I still go through this after almost 20 years. When I’m creating new courses or working on something new for our business, I have to batch my time.
The best way to do this is figure out your non-negotiables. So, for me its spending time with my son and my husband, and having some time during the week to maybe grab dinner with a friend or something like that - something relaxing for myself. So, I schedule those out. Right now as I’m recording this, my son is 2 and a half. He goes to preschool 3 days a week and my dear mother in law watches him a 4th day, so that mama can put on her "hustle hat" and get to work! I pick him up about 4:30 every day, so that I have hours of quality time with him before his bedtime. I may look at emails every once in awhile during that time and I do always have my phone on me for any urgent matters from our ultrasound admin office, but that is my time with my kiddo so non-urgent matters can wait.
So, many nights that means when he goes to bed, I grab my computer and get to work! If he goes to bed around 7:30 or 8, and I stay up til midnight that night, that’s an additional 4 hours of work I can get done! Now, you can NOT get in the habit of doing that all the time, you’ll totally burn yourself out. But, if you realize that this “hustle time” is going to be short-lived while you’re in a state of growth you can put your head down and really get things done!
#5 - This is a fun one. SET AN EXIT STRATEGY GOAL!! What do you need to be banking to quit your job and be 100% your own BOSS?
Now, some of you probably already know this, so stick with me here, because most will enjoy a refresher from economics class on revenue.
First things first you’ll want to figure out your gross revenue. Gross revenue is the money your business brings in total from the services you’re providing.
So let’s go over that option for this type of business. Industry average you’re looking at about $500 for a half day or $1000 gross revenue for a full day. Now, some of you depending on where you’re located may be able to charge a bit more, but let’s use that amount as a good average. At full capacity (we’re talking here about providing services 8 hours a day every day Monday through Friday) you’re at about $20,000 a month gross revenue.
Now, that’s not all coming to your pocket, (wouldn’t that be great?!). But, this business really does have low overhead. You don’t need an office space, you don’t need to pay for expensive advertisin, etc. So, you'll now figure out your NET revenue by taking your gross revenue MINUS your business expenses. We always suggest getting an accounting firm to work with from the get-go because once you start your own business, taxes and business accounting get a little confusing.
Side note - should I create a free guide on this? Would you guys like that? Average expenses, etc? Let me know because I think that could be helpful!
So your current salary is going to vary obviously based on where you live and your experience, etc, but let’s say you’re making $35/hour – that’s an average of $1400 week for a 40 hour work week or $5600 gross a month. You’ll want to make sure you add in any benefits you’re receiving too, to figure out your ACTUAL pay, factor in taxes, etc. That will give you your bottom dollar you need to quit and take your business full time.
There are a couple things to consider here as well. One of them is health insurance – if you can get on your spouse’s insurance that’s perfect. If you’ve got 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. For myself, we work with an insurance agent and we have Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield. We actually pay that out of our company, so it’s a “benefit” to us through our company. We also worked with our financial planner to come up with an option for a 401k since that obviously wasn’t available through an employer any longer and there are options for small businesses to allow you the benefits similar to a 401k, so I highly suggest checking that once you’ve started and you start growing and you’re starting to look at that exit strategy option. Not something you need to worry about or put together before you start. Let’s do this step by step. But thinking about that exit strategy is so exciting, isn’t it?!
Ok guys, there you have it. The 5 things to think about as you start your mobile ultrasound business as a side hustle. I hope you enjoyed and PLEASE subscribe to the podcast and make sure to give us a review as well! And if you have any content suggestions, we LOVE hearing from you guys! Until next week, my friends! Bye for now.