Entering the business of healthcare can be daunting. It’s a huge industry with a variety of sectors and challenges. Healthcare related businesses face all of the generic challenges of business, as well as certain legal, moral and ethical issues while pursuing growth and profitability. An area with the most potential and activity at present is primary healthcare (PHC).
This is the provision of basic care including preventative, curative and rehabilitative services, typically outside a hospital, with the aim of preventing and treating disease holistically and at an earlier stage, thereby reducing cost and complications.
Private providers are increasingly important in the provision of PHC in Africa, and help to relieve pressure on public services while improving the quality of PHC. They also help to facilitate broader socio-economic benefits of improvements in health.
5 Reasons to Consider Primary Healthcare as a Business
1. Size and growth potential
The growing middle class in Africa is increasing demand for higher quality healthcare services, and is able to pay for them. In South Africa, there are about 42 million uninsured individuals, about four million of whom are employed and regularly purchase (out-of-pocket) private PHC services. In addition, as the NHI is implemented, opportunities to become accredited private providers of PHC packages will arise with the potential customer-base comprising all uninsured individuals, irrespective of their affordability.
2. Global focus and policy shift
There is a movement to shift the focus of healthcare delivery from hospitals to the primary healthcare space, based on mounting evidence that PHC is the most cost-effective way of delivering healthcare and improving health. Investments are being made in innovation, funding, policy and legislation, and partnerships within this space are increasing, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs.
There is substantial scope for innovation and creativity in what appears to be a highly regulated sector. If you master the regulatory environment, you’re likely to become successful.
4. Lack of business focus
Healthcare professionals require highly advanced technical expertise and skills to provide care. However, this often means that they feel unable to impact the healthcare system on a broader scale because of limitations in their business and other skills. By combining business skills with sector experience, one can build a successful business.
The business side of healthcare is not the exclusive preserve of experienced professionals, and entrepreneurs are desperately needed to help create and drive the required innovations.
5. Potential for social impact
The social impact of healthcare cannot be over-emphasised. There are few more important factors in socio-economic development than improvements in health, and few better areas in which to invest if one seeks to improve it.
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What are the practical steps required to enter this market? The lessons are based on our experience in healthcare, but apply to most entrepreneurial ventures.
1. Marry opportunity with passion
Find a niche in the healthcare sector that aligns with your passion and interests. This will get you through the tough times.
Your business idea is almost worthless without action and the ability to implement it.
3. Be strategic in your partnerships
If you do not have healthcare experience, find a partner who does. If you’re a healthcare professional find yourself a good business partner, but have a honeymoon period with a clearly defined ‘divorce’ agreement in case things go sour.
4. Know what you are offering and believe in it
Starting a business in healthcare is the same as starting a business in any other sector.
5. What need do you fulfill
To attract clients, your value offering must be clearly defined and you must be able to solve a problem or cater for a need. Understand who the clients are and how your business model works and fits into that.
Focus is an asset, but this does not mean forgetting the bigger picture and how your business fits into it.
There are many funding mechanisms available for the healthcare sector, but navigate them carefully. Joining an established SME and helping it grow is an option for attracting investment at an earlier stage. As in any relationship, do not forget to clearly define aspects of ownership, responsibility and roles in the business.
2. Prioritise resource use
Spend all your time and resources on finding clients and delivering a phenomenal service or product to them. Forget fancy phones or nice offices – ensure income is greater than expenses.
3. Research and mentorship
If you have trouble finding a niche, reach out to people in the industry. Invite healthcare executives for a coffee and ask them what service or product they need and if they would be prepared to pay for it. Get them to guide you as you prepare to sell or package your offering.
Attend functions, forums, events and follow up on every person you meet. Keep a record of every encounter so that you always find the right person, and use your networking to help other business people or entrepreneurs. One day they will repay you the kindness.
Learn the power of collaboration and co-operation: Share your knowledge and resources. The healthcare sector, particularly primary healthcare, is highly fragmented and it is through collaboration that synergy and efficiency is created, which improves services to patients, lowers costs and increases business opportunities and profits for companies.
PHC is a vast sector of businesses involved in the direct provision of care as well as delivering key services and products in support of providers:
- A variety of clinics
- Retirement homes
- Nursing agencies
- Occupational health
- Consultancy and software companies
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Examples of Primary Healthcare Businesses
From bicycle-delivered medicines to delivering babies, see how entrepreneurs are tapping in to primary healthcare.
To your door medicine delivery
Started in 2013, Iyeza Express is the brain-child of young entrepreneur Sizwe Nzima, that sees chronic medications at government hospitals and clinics delivered to patients’ doors. Nzima realised the need for the delivery service from helping his grandparents. He now has approximately 250 clients who pay R10 per collection.
Delivering bundles of joy affordably
Jacaranda Health is a Kenya-based social enterprise that is a fully self-sustaining and scaleable chain of maternity clinics. These clinics provide high quality maternity and child-health services to poor urban woman at costs that are between 30% and 70% cheaper than other facilities in the country.
See more at www.jacarandahealth.org
Hello HealthCare was formed in 2007 by five entrepreneurs, including York Zucchi. The company offers integrated healthcare services by pulling together different private healthcare sectors to provide primary healthcare.
6 Resources For Start-ups Looking For Funding
Here are 6 online resources that can help you pay the bills and grow your business at the same time.
Anyone who has ever considered starting their own business, or is currently in the process of doing so, knows that every little bit helps when it comes to making ends meet. Part of the charm of start-up culture is the low-budget creative atmosphere that seems to continually fuel innovation. But, eventually you’re going to have to keep the lights on and water running, and you can’t do that with creativity alone.
Whether you are a business that is just starting out, or already well on your way, there are plenty of online platforms that offer start-ups advice and funding opportunities. Here are 6 online resources that can help you pay the bills and grow your business at the same time.
At one point it seemed that anyone with a clever idea could make a video showing why the world should invest in the next big thing. While a lot of crazy projects have gotten funded over the years, utilising a crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter continues to be a viable way to get your project off the ground. Of course, if you want to reach your funding goals, it’s best that you have already done your market research, have a solid plan, and treat crowdfunding like a global VC.
Visit Kickstarter here.
Those who are new to the start-up world might not know exactly where to start when it comes to looking for funding. While the freelance economy has grown immensely in the last 5 years, it’s important to know where to look.
Platforms like Toptal offer a wide range of freelance professionals that specialise start-up funding. Start-ups seeking a consultant on Toptal can also rest easy knowing that they carefully screen each candidate, ensuring they have the necessary professional background and experience to guarantee a successful project.
Visit Toptal here.
If you couldn’t already tell by the name, appbacker is definitely worth checking out if you are a start-up working in app technology for both Android and Iphone. The platform helps people discover different apps through the crowdsourcing model. Investors can scroll through apps from around the world, and if they like what they see, they can choose to invest. Funding incentive is based on an investor’s ability to purchase an app at the wholesale price, eventually making a profit once the app starts flying off the shelves in the official app store.
Visit Appbackr here.
Investors are more likely to invest locally, which is why Gust is an attractive option for start-ups around the world, as they represent over eighty countries worldwide. Founded by a team of investors and lawyers, Gust knows their way around the start-up world.
With portals for both start-ups and investors, the platform seamlessly connects those seeking funds and those looking to invest. Start-ups can create a profile on Gust, and also have access to tools and tips to help them regulate finances and legal matters.
Visit Gust here.
Not just for investment, although that is a major part of the platform, AngelList is also a great place to find start-up jobs as well as recruitment. Those start-ups that are looking to expand can greatly benefit from this feature, while also getting their name out there to potential investors.
Their syndicate platform, led by technology experts make room for those who are looking to invest the chance to apply to a lead or directly invest in a fund.
Visit AngelList here.
From top corporations to big name accelerators, Seedrs aims to simplify the funding process for investors. Providing a vast network of investors from 48 different countries, who tap into an additionally impressive network of start-ups, there is plenty of room for collaboration on this platform. Seeders also encourages investors and start-ups to continue their relationship after the transaction is made. Their online and offline networks aim keep both start-ups and investors in the loop.
Depending at what stage of development your company has currently reached, exploring various funding options available to you is a worthwhile endeavour. Rather than blindly pitching investors, investigating each potential platform, whether it’s crowdfunding or a hiring a freelance funding expert, will save you time and resources so you can focus on the right type of investment based on your needs.
Visit Seedrs here.
Picking Your Lane: Maximising Your Chances Of Success And Happiness
How do you choose? What do you prioritise? What’s right for me is almost certainly not right for you.
Most entrepreneurs start businesses out of necessity. They do what they have to. They don’t think far ahead. They fight fires every day. They are the foundation of every economy all over the world. Some succeed, some fail, few shoot the lights out. Some are happy, some are not.
For me, there’s nothing more thrilling than building a business. Seeing your ideas turn into reality. Seeing your team exceed your expectations every day. Seeing your customers’ lives improved by your products.
But, entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. You pour blood and sweat and tears into your business. You get more than your fair share of punches in the nose. It’s hard, but if you’re lucky and you persevere, the rewards are great.
So, how do you maximise your chances of getting into the ‘happy and shooting the lights out’ club?
Picking the right lane – figuring out what you’re going to do – is probably the most important decision you’ll make. Once you’ve figured that out, you can get down to the nitty gritty of picking your team and building your business.
But, how do you choose? What do you prioritise? What’s right for me is almost certainly not right for you.
The Sweet Spot Model, which has been drifting around the web for years, provides great guidance. If you do what you love, the hard yards won’t feel like work. If you do what you’re good at, you’ll beat or (even better) outstrip the competition. If you provide something the world needs, you’ll feel a sense of purpose. If someone will pay for it, you have a business.
When I co-founded Simply, I wanted to tick all 4 boxes AND work from Cape Town AND be extremely flexible (so I could prioritise family health).
I worked on three different ideas: A GIS-platform for solar and other utilities; a transaction platform for stokvels; and a cheeky online life insurance play.
The life insurance play quickly emerged as my best choice (it helped that my partners are top actuaries J):
- What I’m good at – doing start-ups, connecting people and teams, and using technology and data to solve business problems.
- What I love – working with people I like and trust to build businesses that solve hard problems and make the world a better place.
- What the world needs – most adult South Africans have one or more funeral policies. Few have life or disability cover and policies are often very expensive. There’s a clear need for simple, convenient, well-priced life, disability and funeral cover.
- What someone will pay for – the market we’re targeting is huge – nearly R7.5Bn of new premium is written annually.
With the stars lining up, we pressed the go button in early 2016. It’s now twelve months since we launched to market and early signs are good:
- Our innovative, online products – Family Cover, Domestic Cover and Group Cover – have been well received and are improving all the time.
- We have an amazing, engaged team – inspired by the purpose of protecting vulnerable people.
- We’ve sold more than 4 500 policies to date, providing more than R2.5Bn of cover to more than 20,000 people.
- We’re based in Cape Town, working hard and having fun, and I seldom miss a swimming gala, netball game or opportunity to go mountain biking.
While picking the right lane is no guarantee of success, it definitely helps stack the odds in your favour. You’re going to need all the help you can get. So, take the time to pick your lane. I bet it’ll be worth the effort.
9 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By
Entrepreneurship takes great perseverance. Failure is common. In fact, it is expected. Over 75% of venture-backed start-ups fail.
Entrepreneurship takes great perseverance. Failure is common. In fact, it is expected. Over 75% of venture-backed start-ups fail.
There are great learning opportunities that present themselves when we fail, but we must be willing to continue on and try again in order to learn anything at all.
It can be quite an arduous task to strive for your own means, to create your own vision and to rally the support within yourself that starting and running your own business requires.
Thankfully, we’re not in it alone. The wisdom of others can greatly ameliorate the process learning from our missteps and hiccups.
Taking from sagacious investors, inventors and thinkers can help you pick yourself up and make something meaningful out of your quest to become a successful entrepreneur.
By studying the thought processes of other entrepreneurs, we can become more enriched and more aware of how to approach the challenges we face in business and in life.
Here are 9 quotes every entrepreneur should live by:
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