How to find your innerpreneur

There are entrepreneurs and there are intrapreneurs, employees acting like entrepreneurs with in their organizations.. But few recognize that there are many innerpreneurs. The entomology of the entrepreneurial life cycle resembles an insect that goes from the egg to the larval to the pupal to the adult phase. If just takes fertilization for the process to begin.

Innerpreneurs are latent entrepreneurs but just need a push to get going. Many physicians, scientists and engineers, more than we admit, have it in them, but they need some help to realize it.

Many doctors associate overachievement with love. Consequently, they are masters at doing what they are told to get to the next level of achievement. However, at some point, they question whether they want to be treated like the winner of the Westminster dog show at the end of a leash. Some drop out of medical school. Some complete medical school but never do a residency. Some go into practice and are miserable. Others just rebel and are labeled disruptive physicians.

Here’s how to stop the cycle of overachievement.

Tapping into your innerpreneurial dreams and goals requires introspection and putting your finger on what many call “passion”. I define passion as the thoughts, feelings and actions that result from a deep-seated desire to fulfill psychic needs, be they love, money, power, attention or doing good. Passion can be functional or dysfunctional, depending on the results. The mindset shift requires going to responding to internal motivators from external ones.

If you are trying to help others navigate their innerpreneurial journey, here are some ways that might help them understand the “why” rather than the “how”:

1. Clarify the definition of entrepreneurship-the pursuit of opportunity with scarce resources with the goal of creating user-defined value through the deployment of innovation. It is much more than starting and running a practice.

2. Give them education, training, resources, mentors networks and experiential learning.

3. Showcase champions and lead by example

4. Give them an outlet

5. Create a sense of urgency

6. Lead change

7. Give them the tools and incentives to succeed

8. Debunk myths and stereotypes about physicians as business people and entrepreneurs

9. Eliminate, manage or mitigate conflict of interest

10. Resolve the ethics of medicine with the ethics of business.

Awaking the inner physician entrepreneur is not a new idea. Galileo was on to it a long time ago when he noted 

We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves. Set yourself free.

 For individuals, here are some ways to explore your innerpreneur:

1. Assess your risk tolerance based on past experience, even if it was illegal.

2. Ask yourself whether you have an entrepreneurial mindset. Even better, ask your spouse or close friends who won’t be afraid to tell you the truth

3. Did you take personal responsibility for your last failure and what did you learn? What did your body tell you in response?

4. Are you good at self-denial?

5. Are you connected to people outside of your professional domain?

6. Drill down on the why you want to do this, instead of the how. Keep drilling until you get to the real source of your internal motivation

7. Convene a personal advisory board to help you

8. Build your networks before you have to

9. Experiment, taking personal risks and take some time to assess the results and next steps

10. Look for ways to help others on the same path

Ask yourself these questions and think in terms of “and” not “or”.

It’s time to set yourself free. Start working now.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs and Co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship