From Nurse Practioner to Entrepreneur: Four Areas of Focus

Valuable Skills

What valuable skills can a long-time Neonatal Nurse Practitioner take to the Corporate field? And how did some of those same skills create the opportunity to start an entrepreneurial business, first started as a side business? In interviewing Marcia Grondahl for the Women at Halftime Podcast, there were some great takeaway principles from two very distinct career transitions. In this article, we’ll talk about four areas of focus that were revealed: transferable skills, deciding factor in making a change, challenges in creating your own work schedule and challenges in marketing your own business. With all these changes and transitions, it was important that personal priorities were solid to hold it all together.

Focus number one: transferable skills. A neonatal nurse has is to care for newborn infants born with a variety of problems, ranging from prematurity, birth defects, infection, cardiac malformations and surgical problems. The skills called upon include a very hands-on evaluation and care. Neonatal is defined as the first month of life and so much can happen in that brief period of time, especially with infants with physical challenges.

Teaching as a Transferable Skill

A neonatal nurse practitioner has at least two years’ experience and they also provide education and support to patients’ families. Teaching becomes a large part of the job description to not only the families, but also to the hospital staff. Teaching is a huge transferable skill that can be used in many areas of life and business and many nurses and other medical personnel have this transferable skill already in their competency bank.

Marcia was ready for a change after 20 years as a nurse practitioner, just as many at the halftime of life are ready for a change after working in a specific area for a number of years. However, her nurse practitioner job was a secure position with her experience and seniority. Making any change had to be secure enough to provide enough benefits and resources to make it a feasible move. This played a great part in the deciding factor in making a change, which is focus number two.

Four areas of Focus-Nurse Practitioner

The Deciding Factor

When G.E. presented the opportunity to travel and work from home in nursing informatics, Marcia jumped on it. The position included a lot of training, was stable with a solid company and was attractive to her, as it included the ability to work from home and travel. However, even though traveling and working from home sounded alluring, both aspects held their share of adjustments. One of those was the transition from punching a clock to creating your own clock, which is focus number three: the challenge of creating your own work schedule. This is an adjustment not many are totally prepared for.

When you suddenly have the opportunity to create your own schedule how do you show up every morning? I sounds ideal to sit in your pajamas in front of a computer, but the mindset and atmosphere that comes with working in flannel and slippers all day is not optimal for business. Once in a while it’s fine, but creating a plan and a regular place to work with a set schedule is extremely important when starting to work from home as it creates a ready to work attitude.

How to end the workday is also important. When do you shut the work off? It’s tempting to go back into the home office after dinner to get a few more things done. I understand this extremely well as I actually do it often! But I’m at a different stage of my life with no kids at home and a spouse who loves to watch his sports programs. There’s a lot of freedom there! Whether or not to do this will depend on your situation. If you have a spouse or kids to spend time with, I would encourage you to make your family the priority at this point and leave work in your office for the next day.

Creating a Good Work Schedule

For creating a good work schedule, work backwards. (Another way to say it: Work with the end in mind.) For big-picture planning, look at your year ahead, or at least the next six months. I like to start with one major project for every month, then fit in the minor projects. You then will break your specific steps down into weeks, then days. My father always said, Have your tools ready the night before. This was such good advice that applies in so many areas! Plan and prepare before you need those tools! As a nurse practitioner, Marcia’s schedule was created for her. When she started working independently, she had to create her own system.

To apply this, look at your week ahead and have most of your plans in place by Sunday night, or even the Friday before the weekend. Break all major and minor tasks into small chunks you can achieve. I love creating a list where I can cross things off. Do what works for you. Most important is to have a system. Marcia’s first transition to a corporate job with the freedom to work at home and travel was actually a good transitional move as it prepared her for her next big change, which was to work with a multi-level marketing company, completely on her own. The habits she developed at G.E. were similar in showing up every day for her multi-level business with a defined schedule and knowing when to turn it off at a certain point.

What attracted Marica for her current multi-level business move was the emphasis on health and wellness and the ability to get out of the constant travel. With three trips per month, usually across the country, even though she learned to pack her bags in five minutes or less, the travel was getting old. She wanted to be home more often.

A Side Business that Doesn't Feel like a Side Business

In making this current transition, I want to emphasize one very important factor. She started selling doTERRA oils as a side business while still at G.E. It didn’t even feel like a side business because it was fun. she was using her teaching skills and she was able to start putting a structure in place to not only sell product, but start creating her downline, which is very important in a multi-level marketing business.

Deborah Johnson entrepreneur

The decision to fully leap into this business was much more difficult. She needed to wait until she could afford to give up the security G.E. provided with their benefits and a regular paycheck. This is something many entrepreneurs don’t spend long enough evaluating: running the numbers. It’s easy to get emotionally wrapped up in the excitement of jumping full-throttle into a new area and just go for it! However, a word of caution!

I’ve seen many who leap into what sounds like a sure thing totally fizzle out after the first year or two because they have the choice to go back to their day job and keep their home and medical care or keep doing what they’re doing and live in their car. Statistics confirm this is true across the board for many startups with as high as a 70% failure rate. At this crucial crossroad, the high emotions of a startup can cause stress, conflict and confusion with many just quitting. I don’t want that for you!

There’s always a certain amount of risk involved and you can’t be afraid to jump. But learning from this example, where starting a side business didn’t feel like a side business while in a secure position is crucial. By doing this, you can test and see what is working and also what isn’t. You will minimize risk and test things out before going full throttle when a great deal more is at stake.

The Marketing Challenge

One of the challenges with starting any sort of entrepreneurial business, especially a multi-level that requires you develop a down line, is marketing, bringing us to focus number four. How do you attract people to work with you? After enlisting your mom, sisters, cousins and close friends, who else do you call? With doTERRA, Marcia took advantage of the many great marketing resources and promotions the company provided for her to use, so that made it much easier. There was a strong framework already in place.

She also started using her medical skills as a nurse practitioner with the additional medical training she could provide alongside a naturopathic product. Using her teaching skills has helped her propel her reach as she is not only selling product, but helping others understand and apply alternatives to a traditional medical solution, and that is helping her change lives for the better.   

All these transitions have been held together by Marcia’s personal priorities. Because of the personal challenges Marcia faced, first as a single mom, then marrying Chris, a widow with three young kids with the many adjustments that came with that union, keeping her faith first and her family second helped to hold it all together. Just as many face days in business where you feel like quitting, there are those same feelings when going through an extreme personal adjustment. You have to call upon a higher power much bigger than your situation, and a personal God answered that call for Marcia.

Four Areas of Focus when Making a Change

Focus One: Identify your Transferable Skills. Yours may be teaching, the ability to lead a team or putting together and executing a plan.

Focus Two: Evaluate carefully the deciding factor(s) for a change. See if it will work for your situation, especially financially. Do this with every transition.

Focus Three: Create your Own Work Schedule. If working at home, create a space that will help you show up with a ready to work attitude. This will especially help you after your first couple months when the initial excitement has worn off.

Focus Four: Create a Marketing Plan.  Identify this before you leap full-time. Call upon your network and explore the resources available to you.

Making a life and career change is entirely possible, but evaluating each of these four focus areas will help you tremendously in your journey! Make sure you download the free side business template –it will help you!

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About the Author:

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of four books and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.