12 Things Nursing Taught Me About Owning a Business
By Vickie L. Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD
Have you ever wondered whether you're cut out to be an entrepreneur? Nurses sometimes tell me they aren't sure if their nursing career has prepared them to start and succeed in their own legal nurse consultant practice. Yet even the most routine nursing job is full of life lessons that apply to the business world.
My first job as an intensive care nurse in a major medical center prepared me for business success. Subsequent jobs reinforced those early messages. I invite you to look closely at your own nursing career and discover the lessons that will help you succeed as a legal nurse consultant.
Success Lesson 1 -- Find Your Passion and Turn It into a Business
As much as I loved my work with critically ill patients and their families, my inner voice told me I wouldn't be working in a hospital forever. As a young nurse, the vision of myself working in the ICU at age 40, 50 or 60 just wouldn't come into focus.
With only 6 years of nursing experience, I left the hospital and started my legal nurse consultant business. From there, I listened to my inner voice and reconnected with my first passion teaching. At age 8, I spent hours every day teaching an imaginary class. Today I am privileged to teach, coach and mentor nurses to live their career dreams. I turned my passion into a business, and since then I haven't worked a single day.
Listen to your inner voice, and you will find your passion. Many nurses have reconnected to their passion through legal nurse consulting, a choice unknown to them before they took my program.
Success Lesson 2 -- You Have the Power to Take Control of Your Career Destiny
Patients heal faster when they take control of their health and practice healthy habits. Even the smallest positive action can give a patient a sense of control and empower the healing process.
I learned this lesson time and again as I struggled to gain control of my own nursing career. Each time I refused to give in to the frustrations of working within the healthcare system and took a positive step on my own, I felt better. With every step I grew, I thrived and I came up with new ideas to further my sense of control and satisfaction.
The same is true about your career. You have the power to practice the healthy habits essential to take control of your career destiny. Educate yourself about the steps to achieving career health, including new career options like legal nurse consulting. Then take action on those steps. You really can take control of your career destiny.
Success Lesson 3 -- Don't Give in to Fear
As a nurse, I frequently treated patients who had the same progressive disease, yet experienced dramatically different outcomes. We all have known patients who lived years after their predicted demise and other patients who should have lived but didn't because they gave up or didn't want to live. The fact that so many elderly patients die within months of losing a spouse is a solid example of the mind-body connection. In almost every case, the patients who died too soon had given in to fear.
There's also a mind-business connection that will influence the health of your business. When I give in to fear, I become the biggest obstacle to my success. That was true when I started my business 19 years ago. That is true today.
Fear will paralyze you instantly. Practice mind control and exercise your mind daily for positive thinking. Shake off your lack of confidence and negative thinking. Don't wait for an MI to stop inhaling the toxic smoke of fear. Don't let fear be the reason you don't live your career dreams. Always remember the mind-set of the patients who live and the patients who die.
Success Lesson 4 -- Nurses Can Do Anything
As nurses most of us have brought patients back to life. We all can recall at least one miracle story a case where, with our help, a patient survived against all odds.
Whenever I face a business crisis, I remind myself, "I'm a nurse and nurses can do anything." I've repeated this same message for 19 years, and it has helped me overcome every obstacle.
If you can heal sick patients and handle life-threatening emergencies as easily as you make your bed in the morning, you really can do anything -- especially something as straightforward as starting a business.
Success Lesson 5 -- You Can't Climb Mount Everest without Practicing on the Foothills
I had to have extensive education and training just to qualify for my first nursing job. All the lessons from that job helped prepare me for the next. Each successive nursing position required new and different skills necessitating more training and education.
The same applies to owning a business. Today I handle things easily and successfully that seemed impossible 19 years ago. But that's because I've been in training for what I do now ever since I became a nurse.
If you're frustrated with your nursing career, don't feel like you've thrown your life away. No experience or job is a waste. Everything you have done has trained you to move up to the next level. Above all, don't let the fact that you're not trained to climb Mount Everest stop you from pursuing your dreams of becoming an independent legal nurse consultant. Your nursing training and experience was the first step. Start the next step of your training today, and you will make that climb to start your successful legal nurse consultant business.
Success Lesson 6 -- The Nursing Process Is Your Friend
When I left clinical nursing, I thought I could set aside the "nursing process" forever. I couldn't have been more wrong. Business requires that same process of assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation. Every project I take on requires me to assess the possibilities and needs, diagnose the problems, plan how to achieve my goals, implement the plan and evaluate my results.
Your nursing jobs have prepared you well. You can apply the nursing process to any business situation and challenge. You will thank your nursing instructors for this one. Every time you review a medical-related case, interview with an attorney or face a challenge in running your business, you will rely on the process they taught you.