Angela Lussier’s book “Who’s With Us” lead me through a neatly organized, soul searching, self-evaluation. I can confidently say that I possess the necessary attributes that entrepreneurship requires, at least according to this one book. What I don’t currently possess, however, is a magic ball that tells me what precisely needs to be done next. The first step looms over me.
I’ve been re-evaluating my skill set through an entirely new lens. I know some people were excited to see what kind of business I would start, but I have to warn you, it’s nothing as ubiquitous or as lucrative as Beanie Babies. I haven’t invented anything that would make a million bucks.
I am a secretary at heart. Fascinating, right?
I first realized it when I worked as a medical secretary at New England Medical Center, a teaching hospital in Boston back in the early 2000s. I started working on a surgical floor and while at first I was admittedly slow and ineffective, after a year I was already receiving compliments from doctors about what a pleasure it was to come visit their patients at North 4. I secretaried the hell out of that place.
It wasn’t because I served coffee (though I did make a fresh pot at least twice a day), it was because I kept the work areas tidy and orderly. The filing was always done, the charts were neatly organized, medication orders were submitted.
I did the tasks I promised to do and anticipated what the doctors and the nurses might need next. I built a reputation for reliability and soon I was asked to help train new hires. Unfortunately, I had to quit when I moved “out west” to attend UMass Amherst and I haven’t worked anywhere since then that challenged or gratified me as much as good ‘ole North 4. I hope that’s about to change.
Today, I’m still a medical secretary except now I work for a small office with just one doctor who’s a naturopath. It’s a far cry from the interns and medical students of mainstream medical care, but I love the work the same. I alphabetize. I organize. I build efficiencies. The work is the same and the goal is the same, too: healthy, restored, patients.
For a long time I thought that I should want to be some sort of medical practitioner, but I grew tired of trying to figure out what I should want. Shouldn’t I simply continue to do what I have always liked to do and what I’ve been good at?
I support practitioners by establishing an orderly environment so they are free to think about their work. I prioritize their schedule so they can concentrate on their goals without being bothered by mundane aggravations. There must be value in this work!
I’ve been observing the small business market in my city and I’ve heard that there is a lot of opportunity for growth in the medical field. I see small local offices that are run by a handful of people who are so busy doing their work that they don’t have time to think of ways to do their work better. Perhaps, I could provide a service where I am responsible for general office work but I also am tasked with finding ways to make the office run more efficiently.
When I think about my general secretarial skills in the terms of being a service, suddenly all my other interests like Graphic Design, Web Design and Social Media, seem like really great add-ons instead of just hobbies. I could answer the phones and do the scheduling, and I could also manage the businesses social media accounts while taking care of the simple graphic design work like letter heads, pamphlets and flyers.
Now is when I really need that Magic 8 Ball! I can’t wait to find out what the next steps are, now that I have a clearer idea of what my product is!
The panicky part of myself says to run down to city hall and register myself. Then I realized that didn’t make any sense, though the run did sound nice. I didn’t want to go down to the busiest office in the city and ask the advice of a group of people who are more concerned with getting the right form stamped.
And then I remembered that I didn’t even have a name for my business yet!
With my head securely out of the clouds, I instead googled “entrepreneurship western mass.” and proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the websites of local organizations that offer free help to prospective and existing business owners.
I started with the national organizations that had local offices like the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). I found other groups that were hosted by local community colleges and big universities like UMass. All of these organizations sponsor workshops and offer free mentoring. Some will help you write your business plan and even help you find funding.
I called my local SBA office and while I’m waiting for my appointment to meet with them, I realize that I’m feeling energized rather than exhausted. It feels good to do something thoughtful rather than running down to City Hall like some kind of space-cadet weirdo.
Keeping with that constructive attitude, I’m putting together a list of questions I should ask:
- Where do I start?
- Which business designation should I choose? Sole Prop? LLC?
- Should I get funding?
- Should I talk to an accountant?
What sort of questions would you ask? Share on twitter using the hashtag #AskLioness and I’ll report back!
I need to come up with a name for the business so I’ll be able to fill out that necessary paperwork when It comes time! Send me your suggestions @RachelARojas on Twitter!
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Rachel Rojas is a freelance writer out of Springfield, Massachusetts. She writes local interest stories for The Westfield News, business articles for Lioness Magazine, and dabbles in short novels in between assignments. Despite the fact that she loves all things intellectual, she has a soft spot for trashy romance novels and pretty clothes.