20 Key Attributes of Successful Physician Entrepreneurs

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA, tells us what it takes to be a physician entrepreneur (himself being a physician entrepreneur and leader).

Biomedical or clinical entrepreneurs are not just doctors, scientists and engineers who create businesses.

Instead, they are those who pursue opportunity under conditions of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) with the goal of creating user defined value through the deployment of biomedical or clinical innovation using a VAST business model to achieve the quintuple aim of quality, cost, equtable access, stakeholder experience and eliminating waste and operational ineffectiveness and inefficiency. As such they can assume many roles in the value creation pipeline such as technopreneurs, intrapreneurs (employees acting like entrepreneurs) ,social entrepreneurs, investors or small-medium size business owners.

Almost every health professional, scientist and engineer has a good idea. Unfortunately, that is all it will be because they don’t know what to do with their idea and the are unlikely to learn how during their formal training. Here are some tips on what to do next.

Here are some thoughts about who they are and what it takes.


Some key attributes are :


1. Mindset Innovation starts with the right mindset.
2. Talent
3. Opportunity
4. Luck
5. Knowledge, skills and attitudes. Unfortunately, doctors get duped into thinking that getting an MBA gives them the right to call themselves physician entrepreneurs. More often, they are trained to be managers. Here is how to be a physician entrepreneur despite your MBA. Don’t let school get in the way of your education.
6. Networks and becoming part of the expanding network universe. Here are 3 ways to grow and engage your alumni network.
7. Mentors and sponsors and knowing the difference and how to find them
8. Resources
9. Experience. Here are some tips on how to get started as a physician entrepreneur.
10. Emotional internal motivation
11. Social and emotional support networks
12. A sandbox where they can play and experiment
13. Humility. i.e. level 5 leaderpreneurship where you own the mistakes and your team owns the success.

14. Coming down off the mountain. What got you to where you are now won’t get you to where you want to go. Actually, while that might be true climbing the corporate ladder, it is not true when making a career transition.
15. Finding your blind spots.
16. Making it personal but not taking it personally.
17. A personal brand
18. At first, be a problem seeker not a problem solver
19. Entrepreneurial habits
20. Strategic thinking


Learning this “hidden curriculum” should start in elementary school and continue as part of lifelong learning.

Most doctors suffer from the conspiracy of conformity.

As Adam Grant notes in Originals, they have achieved academic excellence by not challenging the traditional body of knowledge, but, rather regurgitating it and perfecting its execution. They are defenders, not attackers. Consequently, to be successful as an entrepreneur, they will need to balance their career risk portfolios as they progress through a medical culture that insists on standards and evidence based practice. The corporatization of medicine and rising numbers of employed physicians will make it even harder to challenge the status quo, tell truth to authority and risk the consequences of deviating from cultural norms. More and more docs are trading in their white coats for the grey flanneled suit.

Very few medical schools or resident training programs, if any, teach medical students or residents the business of science and medicine and that is a big mistake, since learning how to create user defined value is as important and difficult as practicing state of the art medicine. The curriculum is the traditional one, guided by learning objectives and the secret one, including network development, people skills and learning how to play the game, which, in my opinion, is a bigger determinant of success than the grades on your transcript.

There’s this feeling that entrepreneurs are born and not made. That is, by and large, completely incorrect. And if an entrepreneur can be made, that means an entrepreneur can be taught.


There’s this feeling that entrepreneurs are born and not made. That is, by and large, completely incorrect. And if an #entrepreneur can be made, that means an entrepreneur can be taught. Click To Tweet


Unfortunately, few doctors, scientists or engineers have the package. But, those that do are creating great things for patients, themselves, their regional economies and US global competitiveness.


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