Anyone who helps a patient get what they need from the healthcare system is an MVP (Most Valuable Person!), especially in the eyes of patients and their loved ones.
That’s probably the MVP you thought would be the subject of this post.
Instead, in this post I’m going to feature a business concept called MVP, used by start-up businesses that are trying to determine when it’s time for them to launch.
MVP as a Start-Up Business Concept
As they get started putting together the pieces they need for a successful independent practice, many advocates and care managers make a list of the launch tasks they need to complete. The smartest and most prepared of them include two main types of preparation: advocacy knowledge tasks and business start-up tasks. Included are everything from acquiring blank HIPAA signature forms, to figuring out what their practice name should be, to setting up bank accounts, EINs, and other financial matters, to creating a website and printing business cards.
Those complete lists, when done right, will actually include dozens of tasks! It’s daunting and can be overwhelming.
But the timing of task completion is important – and that’s where too many new business owners get caught up in minutia, and sadly, some never get launched. They become overwhelmed, complete only part of that task list, and give up or go out of business before they actually launch.
Understanding MVP is the way to beat that problem.
So instead, businesses that actually get a healthy start prioritize their task list, deeming some of those tasks important toward pursuit of a…
Minimum Viable Product (MVP!)
The start-up concept of MVP means that you, as the new business launcher, focus on those tasks that just barely help you get started so that you can begin doing two important things:
- Be launched – so you can derive revenue from your business as early as possible.
- Let the marketplace help you refine and perfect your business plan so that you don’t make mistakes in your early decision-making.
This example isn’t about advocacy; it isn’t even about a service business, but it’s a simple illustration. (Do you happen to watch Shark Tank? If so, much of this will sound familiar.) Say you want to begin marketing a new tool you’ve invented for people who love to cook, and you are sure it will revolutionize something they hate doing – like chopping vegetables. Your MVP approach will answer questions like – how can you launch this product as quickly as possible while staying within the law, protecting your invention, and making enough money to stay in the chef-tool development business?
Your answers will contain tasks like: making a prototype tool, getting it patented, getting your marketing started, figuring out how to get paid when people buy it, and knowing your best options for shipping when someone makes a purchase. Also included should be some sort of feedback mechanism, a determination of any guarantee you’ll offer, and some research into less-expensive manufacturing so that when you actually begin production and sales, you can ramp up quickly.
You can see from this task list that there are still many planning and implementation tasks that would need to be accomplished just to get started, and to be successful! And that’s the point: many of those additional tasks can be completed AFTER the early ones have gotten the ball rolling. By creating only the MVP, the MINIMUM viable product, the inventor / developer can build her business using the feedback she receives from users in order to perfect her widget, its pricing, and her sales process.
MVP for an Advocacy or Care Management Start-up
Now let’s look at how the concept of MVP can apply to an advocacy or care management start-up, by asking, what are the tasks that MUST be completed before you can launch a practice? — vs — which ones can be completed even after you have launched? Here’s a sample list:
- Determine your starting service list which includes ONLY the services you are already good at performing – just a few basics. You can expand later, or specialize later, and you can hire others who know how to perform complementary services.
- Get your financials in place: prepare your start-up budget and figure out a starting price for your services.
- Take care of business-task details: get your EIN, establish a bank account, set up a way to accept credit card payments, have your lawyer review your contract, and obtain your liability or E&O insurance.
- Do some basic marketing and planning: build your website, print business cards, set yourself up in advocacy directories.
- Design a feedback tool so you can get input from the patients and caregivers who will help you refine your services and business processes after your launch but early enough so you can build using that input.
If you have delved into getting started in advocacy, you know this is only part of your start-up list. But you don’t have to wait to complete all the required tasks to get started!
Use this MVP approach – and launch sooner, not later. Patients need you, and their post-service input will be invaluable in helping you build a healthy practice.
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