Ever wished that there were more hours in a day? That you’d get paid more the more hours you put in away from your own home? That by some miracle you’ll be able to look after your family and live out your passion for healing others without burning yourself out trying to earn money to look after your family?
The miracle you’re looking for is passive income. Passive Income MD (surprise, surprise!) defines this as “income that is not proportional to the time you physically put into acquiring it.”
That’s not to say forms of passive income are a racket for easy money, or that they don’t require a lot of work. What it means is that you invest your effort in the project in the beginning, and it will continue to bring in income long after you’ve physically finished putting in that effort.
Ultimately, the goal is to take charge of your own schedule, so you can spend as much (or as little) time as you want practicing medicine and have all the time in the world to spend with your loved ones.
To get you started on that goal, here are four small business ideas for medical moms, so you can take your time into your own hands!
Network with an existing startup
Jumping straight into the fray of starting your own business can be overwhelming, and that’s the last thing you need when you’re already swamped with clinical work and raising a family.
A halfway step to get you started in that direction is to partner up with an existing business! One startup geared towards stay-at-home medical moms is First Opinion. Based in San Francisco and operating on a national level, First Opinion uses text messaging to respond to health queries in order to avoid unnecessary doctor's visits. Users are matched with physicians that they communicate with through text message using an iOS app. If the First Opinion physician is unable to resolve the problem through their communication, the user is referred to a specialist, or advised to see their own doctor in person.
The service is active 24 hours, and the medical moms behind it are most responsive outside of clinic hours—in the evenings and early mornings.
One option is to scour the Internet for startups like First Opinion that you can partner with remotely. Another is to go local and team up with small businesses in your own community where you can take on a less demanding role while you learn the ropes of running your own startup.
At the very least, signing up with an already established small business will expose you to a network and provide you with a template on how to jumpstart your own!
Start a channel or blog:
The Internet is an endless mine of opportunities for the tech-savvy!
Dr. Zubin Damania, better known as Youtube sensation ZDoggMD, worked as a hospitalist for ten years while doing stand-up comedy on the side. On his channel, he combines comedy with elaborating on serious issues on the healthcare system. In his words, he calls Youtube a way to "educate and entertain patients", but also a voice that "raises the alarm about the general levels of suffering going on in the provider community."
As an MD mom, you’ll have your own set of issues that you can sound off on, ranging from sexism in the workplace to finding a work/life balance. Additionally, if you have something to say but you're not too jazzed about being on camera, you might consider running a blog instead.
If you're a creative MD mom whose skills have gone rusty from disuse ever since you took your place in the healthcare system, it might take you some time to bring your artsy self back.
ZDoggMD admits, "Medicine is really good at asking us to conform and play by the rules, but it’s not very good at encouraging out-of-the-box thinking.” Playing by the rules might have been what helped you survive med school, but now that you’re juggling a family and a career, some of those rules need to be tossed into mid-air too!
Running your own channel or blog can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing while keeping your clinical skills sharp, making health information more accessible to the public, and generating revenue.
Inventing your own product
There's creative, and then there's inventive.
Take your cue from anesthesiologist and MD mom Dr. Edna Ma, who invented BareEase, a prep kit designed to reduce the pain during a bikini wax or laser treatment, which she came up with after enduring the pain of her first Brazilian wax. She used her expertise in anesthesiology to respond to a need, and this led to her products being sold online and in waxing salons nationwide. She’s also been on reality shows such as Shark Tank, The Doctors, and even Survivor—all doors opened by inventing her own product!
Another example of a medical mom who started her own company is Medelita founder Lara Francisco PA-C. While working as an emergency medicine PA she always wondered why there were no good scrub and lab coat options for female medical professionals. Even though she had zero design experience at the time, she taught herself how to do it and created the first ever female lab coat in history. Now, ten years later, Medelita has expanded to a successful company that is well known in the medical industry for their professionally tailored scrubs and lab coats.
Train your mind to find needs that need filling, then think of how your medical expertise can provide a solution. Be open to random bursts of inspiration from the most everyday things--don't take anything off the table!
Once you've worked out your prototype, be prepared to do the hustle. Dr. Ma spent years of trial and error in creating her formula, then there was the question of manufacturing, packaging, marketing, and actually managing the business once it launched.
Like any source of passive income, you'll definitely need to put in the work to get the project off the ground at first. But over time the royalties from a product you created and released into the world will roll in without you having to hustle anymore.
Develop an app
80% of practicing physicians now rely on their smartphones and healthcare apps to do their job. That's thanks to the ever-increasing need to access very specific information very quickly, in order to save time, money, and yes, patients' lives.
For instance, Dr. Soren Carstens of Roskilde University Hospital in Denmark used an app creation platform to develop an app to cut down on the mountains of repetitive paperwork required by their hospital's regulations. The app Dr. Carstens developed allows users to access only the information that they need, such as a specific guideline for the day's procedure, without having to sift through an entire massive database shared by multiple hospitals—essential in medical emergencies.
Healthcare is getting more digital by the nanosecond, and there’s always a need for new apps, apps that improve on existing apps, and even apps that are very specific to your area of expertise or your workplace.
No lie, learning how to code your own program is incredibly useful, and if you have the time to study it, it’s a very marketable skill to have. (There’s the potential to go from MD mom to app developer mom and work from home!)
But if, like Dr. Carstens, you have no background in coding, there are lots of app development tools like AppMakr for the layman to develop your app idea. If you have the resources, you can also hire an app developer to guide you through the process and fine-tune the more finicky details of your app.
Check out this list* for some very cheeky ideas, and use them as a springboard for brainstorming your own!
Work smarter, not harder
Breaking into entrepreneurship is much like picking your medical research paper topic (remember those days?). It starts with looking within your interests—because for your business to become successful, it helps if you actually enjoy it! Next comes asking a question you can answer, finding a problem you can solve, or searching for a need you can fulfill. Remember that there’s a difference only you can make, so your brand will be all about the unique way you can provide solutions to the problems you find.
Building your own business will be an investment in money, effort, and time in the beginning. But once your business takes off and begins to earn enough passive income to supplement your active income, you’ll be able to practice being an MD without sacrificing your time as Mom.
To send you on your way, here are some words of wisdom from doctors who strayed off the beaten path of thirty-six-hour shifts, and took their time into their own hands:
- Dr. Jim Dahle of White Coat Investor: “One tricky thing about developing passive income sources as a physician or other high income professional is that your active income pays so well. So it is usually best to do the passive income thing on the side at first and gradually move into it as you see success. In the end, it will be worth it, as it will allow you to practice medicine exactly how and how much you like.”
- Dr. Zubin Damania of ZDoggMD: “Pursue your story with absolute conviction and passion and don’t let people dissuade you, because they will try. Mostly because they are afraid of addressing their own interests and passions, because that fear is beaten into us in health care.”
- Dr. Edna Ma: “You’ve already completed medical school and residency. Starting your own business or pursuing other sources of income will be easy compared to what you’ve already accomplished.”
About the author:
Melissa Lobo is a young and energetic writer, a mom to a sweet little boy, and a fur-mom to two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for Project Female, she was a journalist specializing in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women.