If you consider a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what is the difference between the chicken and the pig?
It’s a question that determines commitment. While the chicken can produce many eggs over a lifetime, the pig can produce bacon only once. The chicken may be involved in the breakfast, but the pig is totally committed.
So what does that have to do with independent advocacy?
Most advocates and care managers I know have huge hearts. They want to help everyone who needs help! They truly dislike having to charge money for their services (because many have done this work for free for friends and loved ones for a lifetime). Further, in many cases, they don’t give themselves credit for being as capable as they are.
So they struggle. They ask themselves how on earth they are going to ask for money from these (possibly desperate) people who contact them, especially when:
They are new, and haven’t worked in private practice for very long (if at all).
You have dreamed about becoming a private health /patient advocate or care manager for a while. You know you can do it, you know you are a good advocate, your heart really WANTS to change careers to advocacy, you know people need help with their medical system challenges…
Plus everyone you know thinks it’s a great idea! They all tell you – OMG – there is such a huge need!
Maybe you have helped friends and family members over the years, or you have been a doctor or nurse for decades. (I often hear, “I’ve been an advocate all my life. Now I just want to get paid for it!”)
But something, maybe not clearly defined, is holding you back. Mostly it’s because you know you would have to start your own business to be truly independent (there’s the Allegiance Factor, after all)… and you’re not sure you’ve got the chops to do that. You just can’t seem to make that leap from being a volunteer who steps in to help, to being a professional, privately-paid, patient advocate, navigator, or care manager in your own private patient advocacy practice.
You’re just stuck. Your heart is THERE! But your brain won’t let you move forward. Sound familiar?
Many of you, despite the fact that you have developed outstanding patient advocacy skills, will not succeed as independent private advocates, because you don’t act on one important distinction.
Doesn’t seem right or fair, does it?
So what’s that distinction? Let’s try a metaphor:
Colleen has always loved houses, and has been the admin in a real estate company for almost 30 years. She has handled details upon details for others – from seller contracts to purchaser contracts, from hiring inspectors, to setting and retrieving signs on a property’s front yard. She knows her stuff, she’s done it all, she’s seen it all, and now she’s decided she wants to do real estate work on her own. So Colleen earns her sales and brokers licenses, quits her job, and goes into business for herself.
Colleen does everything she thinks she’s supposed to do to be successful. She makes up business cards and some flyers. She builds a website. She lets everyone in her neighborhood and her church know that she’s got decades of real estate experience, and now she’s ready to help them list or buy a house. Her phone rings on occasion, but… The business just doesn’t come in to support her well enough. Eventually she is forced to take a part time job so she can pay some of her bills. But, of course, if people call her for help right away and she’s at her job, she misses the opportunity.
Six months later, Colleen is forced to give up her dream of being in business for herself, doing the real estate work she is passionate about. She can’t support herself. Not enough people call her. But she just doesn’t understand it – Colleen can’t figure out why she can’t build a business.
What Colleen missed, the reason she can’t succeed, is the same reason many of you who read this will go out of business, too. Until you recognize it and act on it, you are doomed to fail (unless, of course, you win the lottery and can be a patient advocate for free, with no worry about income….)