Doctors enter business for a wide variety of reasons.

But what if you don’t have an earth-changing idea brewing in the back of your mind?
What are the best business ideas for doctors considering our pre-existing skillset?

As we all went through medical school we were sold the idea that medicine is a blend of science and art.

And it is: without creativity and humanity, or evidence based processes, medicine would be blind.

But despite this some doctors are left with a creative itch, unfulfilled in roles which sometimes feel a little like paint-by-numbers.

Doctors getting started in business

So what is a creatively frustrated doctor to do?

Naturally (and no doubt why you are reading this article), some physicians want to turn their hand to business and entrepreneurship. With clinical responsibilities keeping most very busy however, starting a new business can feel daunting to many doctors.

This isn’t without cause either, in the UK almost 700,000 companies are started each year. Within the first year 20% of these shut their doors, with around 500,000 companies total closing for good each year.

In the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked 25 years worth of data from 1994. Their findings mirror closely what is seen in the UK. The one silver lining to the cloud being that health and social related businesses had the highest 5-year survival rate, almost hitting 60%.

best business ideas for doctors startup failure rate

With fairly intimidating statistics, time strapped doctors would do well to put their best foot forward when attempting any enterprise.

Medical Entrepreneurship: from the ground up?

There is an argument for pursuing a ‘passion’, but if you are beginning with zero business knowledge it is best not to forgo your strengths completely in the pursuit of a dream.

Passion will come and go throughout business development, as the hard days weigh down and you pick yourself up from failures. 

We prefer ‘vision’ rather than ‘passion’, it simply implies a bit more forethought and realism to your aspirations.

The Medical MBA team

Too many doctors feel like they are starting from square one in business, neglecting their vast reservoir of knowledge they have built up during their clinical careers. 

This is why we suggest that doctors going into business (who don’t have a game-changing invention or concept already in mind) leverage their insight and intelligence into creating an information-based product.

Selling information based products or consultancy allows doctors to craft, iterate and market their business in an incredibly short period of time. Often this can be achieved in a matter of months.

There are so many different types of business out there these days, and unfortunately ‘online business’ is a very busy landscape to sift through.

The usual slew of business ideas for doctors usually run something as follows:

  • eCommerce, including selling on Amazon
  • App development
  • Starting a blog
  • Hosting a podcast
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Healthcare influencer on social media

There are two main problems with lists like these. First, many of them are simply marketing channels rather than a true business in their own right. Second, these ideas take multiple months and years to bear any fruit.

If you are trying to disseminate helpful knowledge, tools and understanding, these are slow, highly competitive and require learning large amounts of extra skills in order to have any chance of standing out in the marketplace.

Enter consulting and information based products

You may still utilise some of the above business ideas eventually, but they are not core or essential to your business.

When the value you are providing results from the application of the knowledge and understanding you are importing to clients then that is exactly what you focus on.

Working in this way allows doctors to rely on their strengths of communicating vital knowledge in a clear and most importantly pragmatic format.

In business, people and indeed other businesses aren’t purchasing a product or service. They are buying the promise of the future version of themselves.

Whether that be healthier, happier, less stressed or more educated, people buy services because they want the end result, not the specific features of whatever you are selling.

Avoiding System Failure

Choosing to focus on an information product, rather than a slowly iterated physical product or popular online business idea, lets entrepreneurial doctors remain agile in the business world.

It also means drawing on what they already know – too many forget that their medical knowledge and skills are an excellent advantage. Advantages should be cherished, not thrown away – one of the main ones being understanding health and the healthcare market better than most.

Just look at the reasons why most startups fail:

best business ideas for doctors top reasons for failure
CB Insights

There are innumerable types of information product but you can educate or consult for:

With over 40% of businesses failing due to no apparent market need, where was the shift in direction after market feedback? If you’ve invested years of time or thousands of pounds it can be very difficult to do a sudden about turn.

By selling what they know, and using their expertise and insight to make a real difference in the world, doctors can not only make excellent business owners but ones that are much more likely to survive the difficult world of startups.