Hamza Asumah, MD

There are several moments in my doctorpreneurship journey when my healthcare firm just stagnates, and development becomes a mirage. In so many of these cases, I’ve been confronted with the unsettling fact that I might not be able to expand again and that the money I’ve spent in the firm would be a “waste.”

This is not an ideal situation, but it is unavoidable given the stages your organization will go through on this journey. I found stagnant growth at various phases of every firm.  I classified these as:

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The Adrenaline Stage: It’s exactly what it sounds like. Adrenaline, the body’s fight or flight hormone clearly describes the characteristics of this stage of a business. This occurs in the very beginning of any healthcare firm, when you are still implementing all of the strategies that have been very well formed in your mind and appear to be extremely relevant in reality. This is the point at where your dreams intersect with your goals and vision.

What we fail to remember is that no matter how ‘bulletproof’ your dream implementation approach appears to be, reality has a way of derailing it and pushing you as a doctorpreneur to contemplate rewriting and reinventing yourself.

These moments of reinvention constantly put you in a fight or flight mentality, with survival being the sole goal. At this point, you perceive your goals and vision as a terrifying “monster” that must be fought. Even worse is the prospect of rivals continuing to pay attention to you while you achieve your objectives and gain traction.

This is a highly tumultuous time, with a lot of negative growth in finances and general corporate advancement. You’re continuously in an uncertain environment, attempting to build the bridge as you walk on it. Every day brings a new challenge that calls into question your views from the day before. The easiest way to get through this stage is to be consistent.

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At this point, there is a lot of opportunity for and need for reinvention. This is when leveraging the weaknesses of established rivals is most beneficial. The only way to get your ‘voice’ heard is to provide and clearly communicate a value that has the potential to attract and retain the market’s attention. The benefit of navigating this period is that, as a doctorpreneur, you are likely to persevere since you are filled with so much energy, passion, and drive to assure the success of your firm.

Stagnant growth will only be a momentary setback if you play your cards well at this point, as you will be well-positioned to launch your way into a very major growth stage marked by positive cash flow as well as tangible development in infrastructure and market share. A higher percentage of businesses fail beyond this phase due to the pressures of negative growth as well as the overwhelming financial, physical, and mental energy necessary to manage this.

The company’s maturity stage is the second point where growth may halt or decline. This is the point at which competitors recognize your innovation or healthcare business as a viable profit-generating endeavor worth emulating. The issue of this stage is that your business and strategy may be clear to competitors and attempts by these competitors to mimic your value proposition make it much more difficult to navigate than the adrenaline stage when you retain some element of surprise.

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A lot of competitors with deeper pockets will ideally want to acquire or buy you out in other regions of the world, which would still be a wonderful exit for your organization. However, in Africa, your prospects of obtaining this escape are exceedingly limited. What we witness is these well-established, strong businesses employing whatever techniques they think necessary to drive you out of business.

Unfortunately, if you are unable to raise the necessary resources to navigate this stage, you will revert to negative growth and finally be wiped out. In Africa, investor confidence remains low, leaving you as a young prospective entrepreneur to fend for yourself.

Again, in other parts of the world, there is a high likelihood of resource investments that have the ability to enhance and realign your economic trajectory. Every entrepreneur fears this period of stagnation and growth.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to help you manage these. There are, however, suggestions for minimizing the impact. Begin by exploring blue oceans. This has long been demonstrated to be the most practical method of reinventing yourself and your strategy. Most businesses fail at this point because they opted to swim in the red ocean until it became so bloody that it blurred your company’s vision, diluting your value proposition as it was reproduced all over.

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Second, you should seriously explore forming partnerships. Going into strategic partnerships with ‘competitors’ and investigating each other’s strengths to shift the trajectory of both organizations has a hidden benefit. Companies that appear to be on their way out may unexpectedly discover their fortunes shifting for the better. The final approach is to combine the two, which may increase your chances of maintaining a competitive advantage.

There is flexibility in what you judge suitable to negotiate this difficulty as a CEO and as a business, the trick is to be open to change. This may be a move you had not considered at all, but if it is required for the survival of your firm, you must accept the risk.

These ideas are based on my own experience, but I am convinced that there are several solutions for navigating these problems. I’d want to hear how you successfully negotiated issues, particularly on the African continent. Please share your opinions in the comments area below.

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