Today we’re going to talk about five questions you must ask yourself before you start your physician consulting side gig.
For many physicians, consulting is a very popular side gig. It’s a wonderful way to dip your toe into entrepreneurship and to gain exposure and experience.
In This Episode of The Career Rx We’ll Discuss:
Key questions to ask yourself before starting your physician consulting business…
- What kind of consulting will you do?
- How will you establish your credibility?
- What will you charge for your products and services?
- Will you need additional training for your business?
- How will customers find you?
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If you want to go deeper into how to set up your business on a start-up budget (or no budget at all) – be sure to check out my webinar workshop. Inside, I give out exact blueprints for what you need to do – and how to do it for almost zero money – to guarantee you have paying customers and a way to deliver before you do anything else!
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TRANSCRIPT AND SHOW NOTES (5 Questions to Ask Before Starting Your Physician Consulting Side Gig)
Starting a physician consulting business appeals to many people these days. However, there’s a lot to know about launching your own business, even if it’s small and part-time.
This episode of The Career Rx is based on a question that came from a listener, but I will elaborate on her question today to make a full episode that would maybe be more broadly applicable.
“How do I decide how much to charge as a consultant? This is my first time being offered an opportunity.”
This is a great question, how to charge for your services.
We’re going to get into that today, but I thought I would elaborate as well, to make sure that we cover some of the major questions that you’ll need to ask and answer before you start your physician consulting gig.
For my listeners who are not physicians, don’t worry this will be applicable to any side gig.
Before we get started I want to give a shout out to a reviewer of The Career Rx
You guys know I really appreciate your reviews, particularly on Apple podcasts or anywhere that you are listening, so today I am so thrilled to see this review from “Lifelong Learner MD”.
So thank you! I really appreciate your leaving a review because of course, the reviews are how other people find this content.
Okay, so let’s dig into this week’s episode.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting Your Physician Consulting Side Gig
These are five important questions to ask and answer before you start your consulting company.
1. What Kind of Physician Consulting Will You Do?
What kind of physician consultant will you be and what kind of consultancy services will you offer?
Specifically for physicians, a lot of the consultant work that’s out there revolves around the medicolegal world – being an expert witness or reviewing cases.
This is the same for the insurance world – reviewing cases, charts, appeals, etc.
There are however folks who have some additional, unique experience who are doing consulting in the financial planning or even real estate areas – specifically for healthcare professionals as their target audience.
How Can a Physician Offer Consulting Services in Financial Planning or Real Estate?
Why do physicians need a specific real estate plan or financial plan? Due to the prolonged period of training physicians have and how long it takes to go to school, by the time a person is earning a real salary, they’re often a decade or so later in life than most other professionals.
Physicians usually have a huge debt burden, but they also usually have a pretty decent salary.
So, it’s this strange thing where you’re an older person (as compared to peers right out of college) and you have a pretty good initial salary, but you also have this monstrous debt burden. So the confluence of those factors means special financial planning is needed.
We’re also seeing a lot of physician consultants doing work in the coaching space and professional development.
Consultancy Example from my Own Work:
I’ve worked on social media strategy for organizations.
I generally don’t do this for individuals, but healthcare organizations will ask for consultancy work on how they should structure their websites, social media outreach, search engine optimization, etc.
So that has been really rewarding and of course, if your clients are organizations, that means that not only is the workload a little bit larger, but generally the scope of the work and the compensation is larger too.
This can be a great way to think about your business model; whether or not you want to consult for individuals, or for groups.
These are some of the various factors to think about in terms of what kind of physician consulting you can focus on:
- What is your subject matter expertise?
- Can you focus on a specific niche?
- Could you focus on medical, legal (case review), financial planning, professional development, etc?
- Will you be a consultant for individuals, or for groups?
- What kind of individuals or groups/organizations will you target? Who is your ideal customer?
2. How Will You Establish Your Credibility as a Physician Consultant?
Consultants have established expertise and credibility in their field.
They’ve been working in a specific subject matter (which you identified as your intended niche) for some period of time.
They have demonstrated results and perhaps have formal training by way of a degree or a certificate or specific development experience.
Generally speaking, just having an interest in something is not a sufficient credential to establish your consultancy credibility.
You therefore must think about your demonstrated track record of having achieved certain achievements in a particular domain.
Before you start your physician consulting business, think about exactly what you bring to the table…
- What problems will you solve within your subject matter?
- How will you help the people you intend to be a consultant for?
- What can clients expect to get when choosing to work with you?
- How can they expect their problems to be solved, their needs to be met or their lives to be different after hiring you?
Part of answering this question is understanding how to convey your credibility and expertise in the brand language that will connect with your intended client.
This is very important to understand. How will you describe your solutions in a way that aligns with your intended clients’ needs?
There are different factors to consider when you’re thinking about how you want to communicate to your intended client in their language and in their voice.
One of the most obvious considerations is the distinction between individuals and organizations.
Will you serve people who are beginners or advanced; those who are hobbyists, or who are very serious?
Will you work with anyone regardless of background or will there be some selection criteria before deciding who you want to work with?
These are all the kinds of things you may want to think about.
Considering whether to work with individuals or organizations means there will be…
- Different audiences you’ll focus on.
- Different types of products you’ll offer.
- Potentially different fee structures.
So it’s important to get clear on this.
When establishing your credibility in your physician consulting business…
You really want to spend some time doing your work in terms of how you describe what you bring to the table.
Your business focus and positioning will sometimes click with someone really well. Then for others, what you offer or how you position your services might not appeal to them.
It’s really good to zone in on these kinds of things, as you want to be sure that you’re clicking with your intended target customer. So, if there’s a certain kind of client you don’t want, it can be best that they see from your materials, descriptions, and language that they may not be the right client for you.
For example, if you want beginners, someone who is already experienced should realize that your services aren’t a match for their needs.
If you want large, long-term, corporate projects, an individual with a small scope and tiny budget is also not the best match. Understanding this will save you both a lot of headaches.
3. Physician Consultant Fees & Rates: How Much Will You Charge?
This is the question that Whitney kicked off our podcast by asking,…
“How do I decide how much to charge as a consultant?”
There are a few considerations I’d like you to think about when deciding on your fee structure as well as the price of your products.
You can structure your rates as:
- A flat hourly rate
- ‘Per project’ rate
- A retainer for a period of time
- A custom package.
So, it’s really important to understand how you intend to bill.
When determining your rates make sure that the expectations are extremely clear. There has to be a well-defined scope of work. People need to understand what they can expect you to do, and what you won’t do.
Will add-ons be available for an additional fee?
Are there certain deliverables that are just flat out not available?
For example, within my online courses, I’m often asked if I do any one-on-one coaching and the answer to that is I do not.
I like people to know this upfront. It’s not a matter of what the price is, it’s just something that I don’t offer. So before students decide to take my courses, they realize these are on-demand, very comprehensive, and self-service.
Once you have your fee structure in place then you can begin to figure out the exact dollars to formulate your business plan.
This needs to take a handful of things into account…
What is Your Competition Charging?
You want to understand the going rate for your services or products.
What are people already doing in this space and what are they charging?
You will likely find that there is a big amount of variability in regards to price. There’s a low end, a high end and a lot of space in between.
Know what the pricing benchmarks are so you can understand the market.
Is Your Physician Consulting Gig Intended to be Part-Time and Flexible?
If so, you may want to have caution before you take on a lot of clients, or really big projects that will endure over time. On the other hand, if you want your consulting gig to grow until it is no longer a side gig – it’s your main gig – that’s different.
So keep that in mind when you think about the longevity in the future and your business goals.
What Are Your Revenue Goals?
Will you depend on this revenue for meeting your income needs?
If it’s a side gig this is less important, but if you transition into making this side gig more of your main gig, it can become really important, especially if you are intended to replace your current physician salary, you’ll likely need a substantial client base and consistent revenue.
How much do you need to earn in a week or a month for your business to be a success?
Do not forget! You have to factor in tax. Almost all consulting income is going to be (at least in the United States) 1099 income, where you will be responsible for paying the tax.
Also, consulting income generally doesn’t come with other benefits, health care benefits, retirement account benefits.
When you think about how much you earn on a per hour basis, as an employee it’s very different.
So remember, when you’re settling on that consultant figure, make sure you’ve factored in tax and that there aren’t additional benefits that come with it that have a monetary value.
Once you know your revenue goals, and you’re concrete on how much you need to earn in a month to meet those goals, then you can think about your fee structure and your products.
Think About Your Services by the Level of Client Experience You’re Offering
Will you offer the premium experience or affordability experience?
If your solution is high end it will be more expensive. People may expect a little bit more personalized service from you so is this going to justify a higher rate?
Or are you going to be trying to appeal more to folks who want an affordable option, but won’t expect quite that same level of premium service?
You can take your fee structure and your products and slide them up or down that scale. Is this going to be affordable (and without frills, bells, whistles, and personalized attention), or is this going to be a higher-end premium product?
Many people aspire to have a small number of high paying clients. This seems like it’s the best of both worlds as it’s a smaller amount of work and a small amount of hustle to get those accounts. It’s also usually a more consistent long term or at least a larger revenue stream that comes in.
While this sounds appealing it’s worth mentioning that you’ll most likely spend more time and effort on the front end to land those clients. And those clients will have higher expectations true to the price point.
They will expect more access to you, faster turnaround, and a higher level of professionalism in everything you do, including communications, contracts, deliverables.
Deciding whether to work with less higher-paying clients or more smaller accounts is a personal preference for you and your business model.
You can do it any way you want, but you want to be sure your pricing is also in the context of your products and the market.
4. Do You Need Additional Training or Capabilities for Your Consultancy Business?
A lot of people forget this one, but it’s very important. Do you need additional training or capabilities?
What do I mean by this?
You may have all the subject matter expertise required for you to do your consulting work, but do you need additional training to deliver that consulting work?
You might have all the content expertise on the planet, but are you skilled at delivering presentations, if that’s going to be the output of your consulting work?
Are you skilled at public speaking, if that’s going to be the output of your consulting work? This may not be on a podium to a huge auditorium, but it might be in a boardroom, for example, or increasingly today, virtual.
When launching your consulting company, you may need to have additional training in:
- How to assemble contracts
- How to accept payments
- The delivery platform you intend to use for products and services
- Social media and email marketing
It’s important to understand now that you not only have subject matter expertise, but you need to understand and educate yourself in other areas to run your business effectively.
5. How Will You Find Clients for Your Consulting Business?
How will clients find out about you and your products/services?
What will you do to get the word out to build your customer base?
Will you focus on paid advertising?
- If yes you’ll need a budget for this plus designers, copywriters.
- You must do the research to determine who your core target audience is so you can target them in your advertising campaign.
- You’ll need assets for those ads to lead to – your website or a sign-up page, for example.
Will you prioritize other digital marketing strategies to showcase your subject matter expertise?
- Content marketing
- A blog
- YouTube channel
Whether you’re focusing on advertising, content marketing, word of mouth or referral marketing you need to ensure that you get the word out!
If people haven’t given their marketing strategies some careful consideration, they’ll find they’ve set everything up already, but won’t get clients.
Think about the best way to get in front of your ideal clients and build that into your business plan before you begin consulting.
Whether or not you already have a word of mouth referral network, an existing website or content marketing platform that’s already working for you, you have extra work to do before you launch your consulting side gig.
Keep your marketing and promotion in mind when building your business plan. How you find customers is important if you’re consulting as a side gig and even more important when thinking about a full-time income from consulting.
Serious About Starting a Physician Consulting Business?
If you’re even remotely serious about launching your physician consulting business or starting another informational business like an online course, I encourage you to watch my latest webinar…
Launch an Online Course on Any Budget, although it absolutely applies to other forms of service-based businesses like coaching and consulting.
The webinar covers three things you need to focus on to launch.
It doesn’t matter what your budget is or what you intend to do as a business – there are just three key areas to focus on and there’s a variety of ways in which you can do these things.
In this webinar, I breakdown exactly how to get your new business off the ground.
If you want, you can do this using only free platforms, and zero business expense on your part (except the fees for accepting credit card payments when you’ve got paying customers!). Or, you can get a bit fancier, and I’ll give specific recommendations for what to do there as well, so you have a polished and professional feel right away.
In my opinion, it’s always best to make money first, and polish things up once you know you have a business that works!
*Sign up here so you can launch your consulting business with the right business model that makes money.
Let’s Recap: 5 Questions to Ask Before Starting Your Physician Consulting Side Gig
- What kind of consultant are you? What’s your niche?
- What is your basis for credibility and how will you communicate that?
- How much will you charge? By that I mean not only your fee structure but also your product structure.
- Do you need additional training or capabilities? Do you need to do some coursework or get some upscaling of your own?
- How will you let clients know about you, and really build your customer base effectively?
I want to encourage you to go through this process as among the many different options for physician side gigs, these days, consulting is a very popular choice.
As a physician, being a consultant is the most flexible side gig option with the lowest barriers to entry. So, if you have subject matter expertise and you’d like to share this skill with others to teach them and solve their problems, being a consultant is a great choice.
Do not be intimidated about getting started in consulting. It’s a great way to establish your expertise even further and earn additional income.
Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Career Rx!
Please be sure to subscribe and leave me a review on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. Also, be sure to send me your questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode.
Bye for now,
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