Physician Entrepreneurship: How to Give Good Advice

Physician Entrepreneurship: How to Give Good Advice

One way to put a toe in the water of physician entrepreneurship is to become an advisor to a startup founder or client or simply someone who wants your opinion. However, being an advisor that creates value means you have to deliver the 7Ms. You will have to deliver the value that startup CEOs are looking for: money, marketing, making something, management, manpower, mentors, monitoring the environment and mergers and acquisitions.

When you get that gig, though, you will have to learn when and how to give advice and how much to give. You also have to deal with founders who have founders syndrome and those who suffer from other entrepreneurial syndromes. In short, many won't take your advice and you will be left with the feeling that you have wasted your time.

Here's some advice on giving advice:

  1. When you sign on, clarify expectations about when, how and how often are the best ways to communicate-face to face, email, text or phone, videochat?

  2. Have an agenda focusing on the next critical success factor you need to help achieve. Is it finding money? How about helping to recruit talent to execute the plan and scale?

  3. Avoid having to spend time giving the same advice over and over again by authoring a blog, post or eBook, like this one. Like the flipped classroom, read the assignment and then let's discuss in class.

  4. If you get ghosted (you haven't heard from the person who hired you in a while), don't take it personally. Instead, talk about whether there is a problem, recalibrating your advisory role and whether it should be changed or eliminated.

  5. Use technology to block your time and synchronize schedules.

  6. Understand your role as an advisor v a mentor, coach or sponsor. The expectations are different for each.

  7. Don't work with people you can't trust, like those who don't pay you what and when they promised to do so, those who bad mouth you behind your back or those who make you feel unappreciated or ignored or won't lead when there is inevitable team conflict.

  8. Focus on adding continuous value and delivering results.

  9. Assign as much credit for results to others on the team.

  10. Here are some tips on how to give advice.

Both the advisee and the advisor have responsibilities so be careful how you pick someone's brain.

Remember Socrates who said “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” By it's very nature, advice is just that and can be accepted or ignored. Make it personal, just don't take it personally when it's the latter.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@ArlenMD and Co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship.

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  • Lucy Henley

    Nicely put. Whether you want to be a physician entrepreneur, invest in a startup or lead a board meeting; knowing how to give advice will help you.

  • John Horrocks

    Removing your ego from the advice you give makes the quality of your wisdom much higher.

  • Roberto Fraschini

    Every great advice comes bundled with a story.

  • Jessica Vicars

    Appreciate their situation even if you haven’t been there yourself and concentrate on being of service.

  • Chris Yoxall

    Our attention span is only decreasing as time goes on and so those who can get to the point will win in this new attention economy.

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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