Posts

139. Fabrice Testa on Super Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a method, and it’s also a mindset. Fabrice Testa has written a book that brilliantly integrates the two: he calls the integration “Super Entrepreneurship,” and his book title is therefore Super Entrepreneurship Decoded. He has the appropriate credentials as a proven super-entrepreneur who has created and nurtured numerous great companies (and successfully sold a couple of them).

Fabrice knows the true meaning of the phrase, “The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea”.

Entrepreneurs are animated by their purpose. Super entrepreneurs embrace a massive transformative purpose.

The motivation for entrepreneurs is to help others — to solve problems for others, as we sometimes phrase it. Super entrepreneurs, in Fabrice Testa’s language, are those who choose to dedicate their businesses to solving the biggest problems. By setting big goals, they attract many like-minded partners, collaborators, and employees. By targeting transformation, they aim to change the world in a significant way.

In making this choice, super entrepreneurs are delving deeply into their own personal story to understand their own drivers and their own passionate commitment. There’s a major self-discovery component.

Having set their MTP, super entrepreneurs develop a systematic approach to the pursuit of their goal.

Fabrice Testa recommends that super entrepreneurs combine what he calls CRAZY thinking with a relentless sense of purpose. CRAZY is an acronym for elements of entrepreneurship that Testa calls the Five Secrets. We agreed not to give them away, but they add up to a five-step method entrepreneurs can follow, and a checklist that they can use to assess the market power of their own concepts and business models.

The context for the 5-step method is the exponential rate of growth of available and applicable technologies for entrepreneurship, and the convergence of those technologies that results in a compounding of productivity. When, for example, sensor-based data collection can be combined with A.I. and robotics, whole new fields of automation open up, potentially helping billions of people.

A relentless sense of purpose is a major element in the super entrepreneurial mix.

Super entrepreneurs are highly motivated. They display high levels of ambition and drive, and they generate strong momentum. They seek change, and aim for breakthroughs. They love to set the bar high.

There is a spirit to super entrepreneurship, an intangible spark of super energy and boldness that sets the best entrepreneurs apart and powers them to unusual levels of achievement.

There’s a plan, but it’s not fixed.

Fabrice Testa identifies a master plan for the activities of high-achieving entrepreneurs, but it’s not the restrictive plan of the business school strategist. One term he used was Roadmap: there’s a goal to get from A to B, but it’s OK to visit C, D and E along the way, and to learn and double back and embrace recursive procedures to reach the targeted end-results. The key to success is keeping the goal in mind with flexibility on the route to get there.

Let the customer be the guide.

Testa subscribes to the protocol of involving the customer early and often in the process of designing and building a product or service or a company. Entrepreneurs are always working with assumptions, and, at minimum, must validate them with customers.

He introduced us to the “Starbucks method” of customer validation. Park yourself in Starbucks, order a beverage of your choice, then look around for likely-looking people who might be open to a brief conversation about your idea or proposal or even prototype. It’s easy to engage people, they’re willing to help, and you can offer to buy them a coffee to lubricate the relationship. A few hours investment of your time and a few dollars invested in coffee will result in a deep, broad and rich set of reactions and responses and a meaningful feedback loop.

Success is more about fitting in than it is about timing.

When writers and historians are trying to analyze the unusual success of a particular business, they often attribute a lot of the cause of the outcome to timing — the product or service or technology came along at just the right time. This is a misinterpretation. The happy correspondence of a new offering with a receptive context is not timing but fitting in.

According to Fabrice, to fit in in a big way is to fit in with the zeitgeist of the era. The dictionary definition of zeitgeist is the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era. What Fabrice is pointing towards is a heightened ability to sense the movement of the time, and the direction of its flow, and to step into that river at the right point.

Entrepreneurship is everywhere, and can be achieved at multiple scales.

Super entrepreneurship is not limited by the scale of resources, but it can certainly be augmented wherever resources are abundant. That’s why we seek to encourage entrepreneurship for individuals, teams, and firms of all size, including the largest corporations. Big companies under-perform at entrepreneurship for two reasons. First, they spawn bureaucracy, which is a form of organization that is counter-entrepreneurial. Second, they have existing businesses to defend and fear the consequences of self-disruption.

The solution is to change the purpose of big corporations so that they can become super-entrepreneurial. The purpose would be to create new businesses with no bureaucracy and separated from the defense mechanisms of existing business units or divisions.

Additional Resources

Super-Entrepreneurship Decoded: 5 Secret Keys to Create Breakthrough Businesses that Change the World by Fabrice Testa: Buy It On Amazon

“Super Entrepreneurship” (PDF): Download PDF

137. Murray Sabrin’s 7-Point Entrepreneurial Solution to the Medical Care Crisis

Entrepreneurs solve problems for customers. There are few problems bigger than the horribly perverse medical care system under which patients suffer in the US. The system has evolved over time, with the stimulus of bad decisions, bad actors, and bad incentives. Entrepreneurship can solve the system problem with specific actions at the component level, each of which are practical and do-able, and can interact to create a new outcome at the system level.

Murray Sabrin has studied both the system and the component solutions, and he joins the Economics For Business podcast to enumerate his proposed actions.

Key Takeaways and Actionable Insights

Healthcare is a consumer good, and a consumer responsibility. Medical care is a provider proposition.

Consumer sovereignty is a cornerstone concept in Austrian economic theory. Consumers determine what is produced as a result of their buying or not buying. Does this principle apply in healthcare?

To answer requires us to differentiate between healthcare and medical care. Healthcare is an individual choice and a personal responsibility: we do everything we can to maintain a healthy lifestyle of eating and drinking, exercise and sound physical and mental health practices. In the internet age, there is plenty of knowledge available to help us in our decision-making. Medical care is what we turn to when sound healthcare proves to be insufficient to keep us off medication and out of hospital.

How do consumers realize value from medical care providers? To do so is very challenging due to (among other barriers) price fixing, price opacity, price inflation, monopolistic and duopolistic market structures, the misuse of insurance, bureaucratic management, perverse incentives, government intervention, and barriers to entrepreneurial entry.

Are there potential solutions in the face of this systemic dysfunction? Yes: solutions that come from the best countervailing source — entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial Solution #1: Direct Primary Care — Restoring the doctor-patient relationship.

Murray Sabrin recalled the $5 doctor visit of the past, characterized by a personal relationship with no bureaucracy or insurance forms. Entrepreneurs are now re-establishing that relationship via Direct Primary Care. DPC is retainer fee-based access to unlimited doctor visits, including office-based testing and additional services, with no insurance forms. DPC doctors have fewer patients in their practice and can consequently provide more time and attention. Stronger relationships are built, which is the essence of entrepreneurial value-generation.

Entrepreneurial Solution #2: Transparent versus distorted pricing.

Pricing is one of the most important bulwarks of free markets. In medical care, pricing is opaque to the point of invisibility, distorted, and inflated. It is unresponsive to the normal choice-based supply-demand mechanisms, and not indicative of value.

Some entrepreneurs are acting to change these pricing conditions via what is termed fee-for-service: transparent pricing for specific services. An often-cited example is Surgery Center of Oklahoma, where specific prices for specific surgical services are openly posted on their website. Other members of the Free Market Medical Association provide similar price transparency.

One of the results is revelatory price comparison: Murray told the story of a DPC practice patient who identified a 75% price reduction at Surgery Center of Oklahoma compared to a local South Florida hospital.

Entrepreneurial Solution # 3: One stop shopping at local non-profit clinics.

Murray described the launch and success of several non-profit local and regional clinics, including one for which he was the founding trustee. These are philanthropically established and funded local clinics with volunteer staff, providing a range of services. Equipment and pharmaceuticals may be fully or partially donated by the manufacturing companies. The combination of direct primary care doctors and specialists can make these clinics one-stop shopping solutions for patients seeking quality medical care. With a little philanthropic assistance, they could eliminate the need for Medicaid.

Entrepreneurial Solution #4: Direct Contracting.

Insurance companies purposefully inflate medical care prices to fund their business model. Murray told the story of a large (4-500 employees) company that contracted directly with a service that brought a vehicle with an MRI machine to the employers location, and charged $400 per MRI to the employees. The same vehicle was utilized by a nearby hospital that charged $6,000 for the same MRI. Direct contracting saved $5400 per unit cost, or 90%.

Direct contracting has the potential to significantly reduce costs in the Medical Care system, while opening access and increasing convenience.

Entrepreneurial Solution #5: The 3-tier household medical care budget system.

Murray has a well-constructed and eminently practical household medical care budget system. There’s a version for families with at least on member in employment and an alternative for those on Medicare today. There are three elements:

  • Direct Primary Care for a monthly fee, covering unlimited office visits and routine tests.
  • A Health Savings Account to cover costs of specialists, prescription drugs, medical equipment, major tests and brief hospitalizations.
  • Catastrophic insurance coverage for major operations and hospitalizations and long term care.

Greater detail is provided in Murray’s book, Universal Medical Care From Conception To End Of Life.

Download our corresponding PDF, which features an adapted table from Murray’s book: Download the PDF

In a system of personal responsibility, we would all manage our household medical care budgets with these kinds of tools.

Entrepreneurial Solution #6: Voluntarism And Mutualism.

Voluntarism has a long tradition in America. Mutual aid societies were prevalent before the New Deal. Ethnic, religious and trade groups joined together for mutual support. The Federal Government co-opted these functions and now people look to Washington DC to solve their problems.

But young people today are more interested in voluntarism and non-political social activism. 30 years ago in the Wall Street Journal, Peter Drucker argued for the non-profit sector to replace the welfare state. Creative and innovative people find ways to surmount institutionally-erected barriers in all phases of life, and medical care is certainly one of those. There’s a liberating and energizing sense of acting as the custodian of one’s own life and helping others who need it. It’s the entrepreneurial ethic.

Entrepreneurial Solution #7: Distributed Knowledge.

There is so much available knowledge today about healthy life habits and about the symptoms and characteristics of various medical conditions, and about options for treatment. We as individuals are free to explore, and responsible for gathering our own store of knowledge. The outcome of the research may not be definitive, and we may find ourselves making a choice between alternatives. But doctors and hospital administrators make choices too, and they are not infallible. It may be possible for an individual to gather more knowledge about their own specific condition from the internet than any single doctor can know, simply as a consequence of concentrated effort. Each of us can take responsibility for our own life.

Summing up: Murray Sabrin’s prescription:

  • Eliminate employer-based insurance.
  • Make a single exception for the case in which the employer pays the direct primary care fee for the patient.
  • The resultant employer savings are deposited in employees’ health savings accounts.
  • Employees determine their best medical care options.
  • Phase out Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Let young people create super health savings accounts so that they don’t need Medicare in the future.
  • Hospitals price at realistic market pricing, not insurance-inflated prices.
  • All prices are transparent.
  • Get the government out of medical care — it’s none of their business.
  • Free up resources from the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance complex and redirect them to savings, investment and philanthropy.

Additional Resources

Read Murray’s book, Universal Medical Care from Conception to End of Life: The Case for A Single-Payer SystemBuy It On Amazon – It’s self-published and all proceeds go to charity and non-profits.

“Individual Single-Payer Alternative For Employer-Based Insurance” (PDF): Download PDF

Surgery Center Of Oklahoma: surgerycenterok.com

Forward: goforward.com

Direct Primary Care Coalition: dpcare.org

Volunteers in America: vimamerica.org

131. Saras Sarasvathy On The Entrepreneurial Method

The scientific method has served us well to date. The entrepreneurial method, informed by the principles of Austrian economics, can take society much further. Dr. Saras Sarasvathy joins the Economics For Business podcast to distill the essence of the value-generating and wealth-producing method.

Download our knowledge graphic for the Entrepreneurial Method.

There is an entrepreneurial method — a systematic way to achieve the unpredictable.

The scientific method aims to discover universal laws that make the future predictable. If we have enough scientific understanding we can, for example, build bridges that we can predict will not collapse. We can construct an entire scientific infrastructure in our society.

The entrepreneurial method aims higher, at human flourishing. It aims at discovering how we can all work together to achieve our human purpose, including new purposes that we all agree are worth achieving. We can construct an entrepreneurial structure to build a better human life and a better society.

Entrepreneurs choose a control strategy that’s appropriate to uncertainty.

Some people fear entrepreneurship because its outcomes are uncertain. But this is worrying about the wrong things: outcomes are outside your control. Entrepreneurs are more discerning about what can be controlled: means.

Dr. Sarasvathy lists several control strategies:

The Bird-In-The-Hand Principle: work with what you’ve got and can control, which she sums up in the questions: Who Am I? What Do I Know? Whom Do I Know? What resources do I own or control now? This is the first principle of control.

Affordable Loss Principle: Entrepreneurs can control their downside, making it affordable and limiting uncertainty, by asking “What one value generation project would I undertake even if I risk losing everything I invest In it?”

Crazy Quilt Principle: How do entrepreneurs control the uncertain process of identifying the right partners, including hiring the right people? They don’t try to predict the results of hiring and pitching. Instead, don’t hire, don’t ask. Just talk to people — those who fit best will self-select into your project.

Lemonade Principle: Don’t fear the unexpected. Welcome surprises. All unexpected happenings are opportunities and can become resources. Leverage contingency, and make lemonade out of lemons.

The Pilot Is The Plane Principle: Everyone on the plane is a pilot, co-engaged in shaping history. The plane will reach a destination, the exact nature of which is unclear, and everyone on the plane contributes to getting there.

There are some guidelines that entrepreneurs have established over time.

Non-Predictive Action Is The Driver

Everything in the entrepreneurial method is driven by action. Or, more completely, action, interaction and reaction. Things you care about, things you can actually do, things we can do together, and how we handle surprises. Interacting with the environment with a sense of purpose, and thereby changing it in some way.

Even-If Thinking

Our aspirations and the outcomes we experience may not be symmetrical. Not succeeding is not the same as failing. Even if a new idea does not work out, what is the worst that can happen? We shouldn’t make decisions just because we can’t predict the future. Embrace the unpredictable but make sure the downside is under your control.

Intersubjectivity

The great productivity of entrepreneurship comes from intersubjectivity — two or more people can interact and come up with something neither one had actually thought about or dealt with or considered or contemplated before. Intersubjectivity is more than interpersonal and beyond negotiation. It’s a question: “I am doing this. What do you think?”

The Entrepreneurial Method leads to social good and a new role for business in society.

A side effect of everyone in society learning the scientific method was the emergence of the middle class, defined by income. Science brought productivity which enabled a large swath of society to earn enough money to escape poverty. Everyone was able to harness science.

Let’s teach everyone the entrepreneurial method. Let everyone start companies, grow companies, invest in companies, all with no thought of prediction. A middle class of business will emerge, defined not by income but by venturing. This middle class will produce more jobs and more enduring, more stable companies, embedded in strong communities, with greater well-being and less churn. The fruits of creativity take root in endurance and durability — not in Schumpeterian creative destruction — and contribute to stability and the taking on of bigger challenges. Decade after decade, the middle class of business will generate value and produce wealth, employing lots of people and educating successive generations to take the entrepreneurial method with them into a better future.

Additional Resources

“The Entrepreneurial Method” (PDF): Mises.org/E4B_131_PDF 

Among the innovations planned for the Economics For Business platform is a series of encapsulations of important research papers. Here is a sample:

“The World-Making Scope Of The Entrepreneurial Method — An Encapsulation” By Gabriele Marasti (Original paper: “The Middle Class Of Business”): Mises.org/E4B_131_PDF2

Some links:

Effectual Entrepreneurship (PDF): Mises.org/E4B_131_Book

“What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial?” (PDF) Mises.org/E4B_131_Paper

“Entrepreneurship As Method: Open Questions for an Entrepreneurial Future” (PDF): Mises.org/E4B_131_Article

128. Matt McCaffrey: Austrian Business Strategy (Part 2): Principles

Austrian economics helps entrepreneurs to develop and implement more effective business strategies, and to open up streams of continuous innovation. As Joe Matarese, CEO of Medicus Healthcare Solutions, said about Austrian economics in relation to business: It just works.

In episode #127, Matt McCaffrey outlined the Austrian strategy process of Explore and Expand, and its logic development. This week, he helps us dig deeper to identify the principles of Austrian economics that underpin our distinctive approach to business strategy.

Key Takeaways & Actionable Insights

Realism: real people, real markets, real entrepreneurs in real firms.

Mainstream economics has never been able to help business, because of its focus on math, models, and prediction. Real people and their decisions and interactions and motivations and emotions can not be captured in equations and mathematical functions.

Austrian economics has carved out a particular area of focus in the behavior of real people in its study of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Austrians examine real entrepreneurial decision-making day-to-day; they highlight real people experiencing value and entrepreneurs’ role in generating that value. From this base, Austrian economics investigates how individual actions and choices and interactions lead to the formation of markets.

Dynamism: The market is a process.

Austrian realism sees the market as a dynamic process, continuously unfolding in interaction and innovation and change. Mainstream economics, with its preference for the greater mathematical tractability that comes with abstraction, has no capability of dealing with this real-world dynamism. The embrace and study of dynamic processes gives Austrian economics much of its applicability in business. The business world is never static. It can’t be understood in abstractions. It’s real and messy and changeable and unpredictable.

Uncertainty and complexity: embrace emergence.

Uncertainty is a keyword for Austrian economists. It’s a term that describes the real world in which entrepreneurial businesses operate. They can never know for sure what comes next; they can’t anticipate all of the interactions between competitors, changing customer preferences, technological advances and social and economic trends. There is no sure-footed way to plan for the future. Austrians recognize uncertainty and help businesses think about how to cope with it, how to narrow it, how to accumulate knowledge to lighten it, how to weigh decisions in the environment of uncertainty.

The new scientific term for uncertainty is complexity: in any system, the interactions are so many and their results are so unpredictable that modeling and forecasting are impossible, and outcomes are defined as emergent (i.e., outputs happen in a way that is not predicted by merely combining inputs). Austrian economics helps businesses deal with emergence.

Subjectivism: People are people, both as consumers and as providers.

One of the realistic principles of Austrian economics is to deal with people as people: we are all subjective in our valuations and judgments and emotions. We are not homo economicus: perfectly rational (in the mainstream economists’ definition of rational) in objectively weighing benefits and their opportunity costs. If all we are doing in producing goods and services for consumption is trashing the planet, then we can’t be rational, in their eyes.

In order to understand business and understand entrepreneurship, it is absolutely necessary to begin with subjectivism. Consumers’ subjective values ultimately determine what is produced; if consumers don’t value something, producers won’t make it. On the producer side, entrepreneurs’ subjective valuations of the resources they have available to them to assemble in a production process affect the value of their business.

It is entrepreneurs’ subjective evaluation that results in the identification of new uses for a resource, and the introduction of new innovations. Subjective values lie underneath every new business relationship with customers, from streaming movies to google searches to online travel booking. Subjectivism is everywhere in the economy and in business.

Time: How to plan in the present to satisfy customers in the future.

Austrians are unique in their understanding of the economic role of time in business. Entrepreneurs deal in future time. They imagine better futures in which customers enjoy greater satisfaction, and then they imagine how to bring it about and act on their imagination. Production — getting from imagination to consumption — takes time. Entrepreneurs are dealing with buying decisions in the present (such as hiring and buying inputs) for selling decisions in the future. They can’t know future prices or future customer preferences, so it’s a bet.

The consumption decisions customers make today reflect entrepreneurial decisions that were made weeks, months, years or decades in the past. Austrian economics helps entrepreneurs manage the contingencies of time.

Time makes the customer the boss.

Austrians utilize the concept of consumer sovereignty as an analytical tool. It means that consumers are the ultimate decision-makers in all economic systems, because what they buy or don’t buy determines what is produced. Their power is a result of the time it takes to produce. The value of resources that entrepreneurs assemble today depends on what consumers think and feel in the future.

Forecasting is tricky and best avoided, but patterns can be recognized.

A consequence of time and consumer sovereignty is the fragility and inaccuracy of forecasts. How is it possible to forecast consumer tastes in the future? There are some exceptional entrepreneurs who get it right. What’s their secret? Austrians’ understanding of dynamics and complexity can help point to the processes most likely to be associated with success, without attempting to forecast it.

One alternative to forecasting is pattern recognition. Jeff Bezos said that consumers are unlikely in the future to ask for higher prices, lower quality or slower delivery. That’s pattern recognition. It’s generalized and broad based and lacking in precision and specificity. But there is a consistency to some patterns that entrepreneurs can recognize and act upon, adding their own idiosyncratic insights and guesses to shape the actual value propositions they will make to consumers.

Out of all this emerges the Austrian entrepreneurial method.

We’ve all been educated in the scientific method. It’s utopian: experiments conducted with strict controls will yield the truth.

The entrepreneurial method is different, but with equal status, and greater applicability in open — i.e., human — systems where control is not an option.

It’s a bit messy and hard to characterize with precision, but it’s nonetheless real. It starts with imagination — imagining a future in which customer dissatisfactions are addressed and resolved. Their world is made better. This is proactive creativity on the entrepreneur’s part, triggered by existing highly dispersed knowledge, including tacit knowledge, held by the entrepreneur and others.

The entrepreneur designs a business model that might be able to resolve the identified customer dissatisfactions in the future and assembles resources that he or she believes, in the right combination, could accomplish the task. There’s no correct way; the entrepreneur draws on the realism of Austrian economics to best understand the challenges and how to address them.

The entrepreneur then advances with her or his own form of experiment. It’s not controlled in a closed environment. It’s a hard commitment of resources in a definite format to make a value proposition to customers. The experiment consists in ascertaining the customer’s response: like or dislike, buy or not buy, use and enjoy or use and reject? The experiment does not end there. It is continuous — receive the result, decide on how or whether to change the proposition, and try again.

Gut feeling or intuition or personal subjective heuristics all have roles to play in entrepreneurial decision making. Austrian economics captures these phenomena in the concept of judgment under conditions of uncertainty.

Organizing for the exercise of judgment.

Since judgment is the ultimate generative energy in producing value for customers, and since it’s personal and individual, how do firms grow? If judgement rests with a single entrepreneur, such as a founder, growth can’t scale, and will quickly reach its limits. Austrians have the organizational design solution: delegated judgment. Austrian leaders are able to design and implement non-hierarchical organizations in which every employee is empowered to exercise entrepreneurial judgment.

They do so by substituting value codes for authority. Value codes are the unwritten codes (although they might be found in the employee handbook) and conventions of “how we do things around here”, how we generate value for customers, the mission and purpose and internal methods of the firm.

Additional Resources

“Austrian Entrepreneurial Principles” (PDF): Download PDF

Austrian Perspectives on Entrepreneurship, Strategy, and Organization by Nicolai J. Foss, Peter G. Klein, and Matthew McCaffrey: But It On Amazon

126. Joe Matarese Defines a Whole New Level of Customer Value to Build a High Growth Service Firm

Firms that can unlock the deep secrets of subjective value can unleash powerful, long-lasting value streams. When these flow in a confluence with well-identified market drivers, revenue and profit growth can be greatly accelerated.

Joe Matarese tells Economics For Business how he conjoined these two forces for his medical staffing service firm, creating a dynamic market leader from a three-person startup.

Key Takeaways and Actionable Insights

Market Drivers are strong, lasting forces capable of projection.

Austrians are skeptical about prediction, but it is reasonable to project some forces into the future. Demographics is one — the progression of age cohorts through the demography of a country can be mapped quite accurately. Increasing longevity is another, based on ongoing increased investment in health care and advances in the associated technologies. When Joe Matarese identified a shortage of doctors, he was able to confidently assume the shortage would continue.

When customer problems result from these forces, a market segment opens for solutions.

One customer problem fed by these forces is staffing for critical roles in hospitals — doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, etc. Staffing complements need to be assembled, absences caused by holidays, maternity leave, etc. need to be covered, and the natural churn of individuals taking new jobs, retiring, or moving requires flexible response. Not only staffing but scheduling is required — the right medical team for the specific operation at the appointed time.

The problem-to-solve is functional. The deep value is subjective and intense.

Joe’s core insight was about the intense emotional need, not just the functional need. He observed his client — an operations executive in a busy hospital system — stressing out about the problem. Operating room staffing is life-and-death. Unfilled team roles would often arise at the last minute, threatening the healthcare mission of the hospital.

Temporary staffing service providers would sometimes fail to deliver the scheduled stand-in. Stress for the executive intensified.

The solution for a deep-seated and intensely felt emotional need is to transfer the burden to the service provider.

Think of the intense burden the administrative executive bears when she’s not confident that her staffing plans are secure, and her routines and methods are not foolproof. What if there is a failure at the time of a scheduled operation and it can’t go forward? Or patients can’t get nursing care because of under-staffing? How much value is there in a service that can relieve the stress?

Joe Matarese conceived of the emotional solution: take the responsibility off the shoulders of the executive and take it on as a service of his firm. How is that achieved? Bulletproof processes and routines. Comprehensive databases of people and their skills and attributes, and of client facilities and their needs. The latest technology for profile matching and precision scheduling. Impeccable implementation. And, most importantly, intense listening to continuously monitor customer feelings, combined with the responsiveness to act on those feelings.

Growth follows when these market drivers, functional drivers and emotional drivers are aligned.

Medicus Healthcare Solutions quickly gained market share in its initial geography. Growth comes from adding new customers, expanding territory and the underlying forces of an aging population consuming more healthcare.

But growth is a management challenge. One area of great challenge is managing people. Those who signed on for the early stages of growth and development may not have the skills — or the interest — for the later stage tasks of management like strengthening processes and systems. Making sure the team is perfectly tuned to the demands of the current stage is difficult but critical.

Further acceleration of growth is driven by innovation.

Medicus Healthcare Solutions has always grown faster than the market. How? Through an intense search for new knowledge and its application in the form of unrelenting innovation — never resting in the search for better ways to provide client service. For example, in addition to continuous improvement in precision tailored scheduling, Medicus added a consulting service. Scheduling solves the client’s immediate short term problem, and does so again and again. Consulting can examine the client’s systems and solve the problem in the long term by designing and installing internal systems as good as Medicus’.

Joe has a long experience with innovation and how to manage it, and promised to come back to the Economics For Business podcast in the future to share his knowledge.

Additional Resources

“Driving Growth With Core Customer Value Insights” (PDF): Download PDF

“Medical Staffing and the Revolutionary Innovations We Need,” presented by Joe Matarese at the Mises Institute’s Medical Freedom SummitWatch the Video

Medicus Healthcare Solutions: Visit the Website

122. Andrew Frazier on Running Your Business

There’s a middle class of businesses that are the backbone of the economy. Professor Saras Sarasvathy coined that term, and we’re pleased to adopt it.

These businesses sit between the big corporations of the major stock indexes and the VC-funded gazelles and unicorns of Silicon Valley and Silicon Hills. The watchwords for these backbone businesses are duration and durability. They last and prosper because they are well-run, following the entrepreneurial method.

Entrepreneurship is usually portrayed from the perspective of ends: identifying unmet customer needs, creating new and innovative solutions, taking them to market, making a success.

That’s all true. However, there is another perspective that comes from actually running a business, ensuring that operations are smooth and efficient, monitoring daily cash flows and monthly P&Ls, and managing people’s performance.

Often, running a business requires an intensified focus on means. Cash flow, operations, employee performance — these are means, and running a business is a science of managing means. Business advisor Andrew Frazier helped us focus on means in this week’s Economics For Business podcast.

Key Takeaways & Actionable Insights

Knowledge is an entrepreneurs most important means. Accumulate it purposefully (but not by losing money).

The more you know, the more you grow. That’s a mantra from Andrew Frazier. He advises thoughtful accumulation of knowledge. One way to learn is to lose money — you learn what doesn’t work, and what not to do. Avoid this form of learning by purposive knowledge gathering. This includes truly knowing your purpose — at least part of which is to build the business resiliency that delivers durability and duration.

Knowing your numbers is a critical component of durability and duration, and of shepherding your means.

In his advisory and consulting roles, Andrew encounters many business owners who don’t know their own numbers intimately — their daily cash inflows and outflows, the precise identification of fixed and variable expenses, the condition of the P&L and the balance sheet. Some, he says, fear the numbers. They delegate accounting to an outside service, or even to an internal “back room” employee. Don’t delegate “knowing your numbers” to anyone. Be on top of them every day. They tell you your means.

Sales and marketing are the most important means of lasting business growth, and not necessarily expensive.

There is no business without the sales and marketing activities that identify the right customer niche and tell your story to those customers in a credible, warm and persuasive fashion. Many business owners and entrepreneurs see sales and marketing as an expense to be incurred only if there is cash leftover from other variable and fixed costs that take precedence. This is wrong-way thinking. Sales and marketing are job #1.

Hiring employees is the biggest change you will make to your business and to your role in it.

You want to hire employees for the growth of your business. As you do so, you are changing your business. You change its structure: it now needs organizational design. You change your role: you are now a leader. You change the business’s operational flow because it now needs detailed processes and systems. You change the culture: it becomes more indeterminate and therefore requires more of your attention. You stop working in your business and start working on it.

Duration and durability require sacrifices from you.

One aspect of the entrepreneurial ethic is personal sacrifice today for market reward in the future. Sacrifice is part of your means. You’ll work harder and longer hours. Your business and social and family lives will become inextricably intertwined. Your business will become your identity. Realize this and embrace it.

A lasting business requires an exit plan.

A business that prospers over an extended period needs an exit plan for its owner or founding entrepreneur. This can range from an IPO or sale to an acquirer to leaving it to your kids or turning it over to employees. Whatever the case, the owner needs to plan ahead for exit, almost from the beginning. For example, if you have a professional services business, what will make it saleable when you want to exit? Is there asset value over and above revenue flow? Will customers stay after you leave? Are your kids even interested?

Additional Resource

“Running Your Business” (PDF): Download PDF

Visit Andrew Frazier’s Website: RunningYourSmallBusinessLikeAPro.com

Running Your Small Business Like A Pro by Andrew Frazier: Buy It On Amazon

“The Masterpreneur Playbook Summary” (PDF): Download PDF

The Austrian Business Model (video): https://e4epod.com/model

Start Your Own Entrepreneurial Journey

Ready to put Austrian Economics knowledge from the podcast to work for your business? Start your own entrepreneurial journey.

Enjoying The Podcast? Review, Subscribe & Listen On Your Favorite Platform:

Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotify