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As a scientist, you know going molecular is the way to stay at the forefront of modern medicine. But you need a plan — a business plan — that will help make it happen. Time to start thinking like a businessperson.
A formal business plan sets goals, explains why they are attainable, and lays out the plan for reaching those goals. Your business plan is a map for you and your colleagues to follow on the road to success. It is also a proposal to share with an executive board in order to gain support, interest and funding for the project.
How do you know when you are successful? That is part of the plan. Setting milestones to reach, and how to reach them, will help you define and measure success of the lab.
Your business plan should also present the economic viability of your lab, including an analysis of your “business prospects.” These prospects include the clinicians and patients in your community that would utilize and benefit from your services.
Where to Begin?
Business plans are unique, just like businesses are unique. A molecular lab is no exception. You can research different types of business plans online or at the library to find a style that fits your needs. But there are a number of important items that every business plan should include:
1. Mission statement: This is an executive summary of your vision. It should be concise and clearly state your goals and purpose. As a communication tool, a mission statement also helps everyone understand and (hopefully) support your ideas.
2. Business profile: In a few paragraphs, describe short- and long-term goals, how you will accomplish these goals, growth expectations, and the market you intend to serve.
3. Management overview: Include the names, credentials and relevant experience of lead members of the management team and what they will be responsible for in the molecular lab. Be factual and honest. If there are shortfalls in your staff, point them out and offer solutions on how to remedy them with hiring, training or using outside consultants.
4. Product and services overview: For a molecular lab, you need to address what will be on your test menu. What is the market potential and estimated volume for these tests in your area? How will your services differ from other labs in the area?
5. Financial assessment: This section should include a realistic projection of start-up costs, overall budget needs, financial forecast for a three- to five-year period, reimbursement potential, and expected revenue generation. It is a good idea to share spreadsheets that show the formula you used to reach your projections. If you are not familiar with these types of calculations, invest in financial management software or a professional to help you get through the number crunching.
6. Marketing strategy: How will you drum up business? Public relations, advertising, social networking, special events, and word-of-mouth are all great ways to spread the word. Lay out a plan to market your services, as well as budget needs for these efforts.
7. Exit strategy: A good business plan establishes some warning signs that will dictate when to close up shop. Every businessman hopes to never have to make that decision, but it is good to have these in writing. The warning signs could be based on revenue, community response to your idea after a set amount of time, or a consensus among top executives.
A thorough business plan will help you get your thoughts focused and organized, and in a form that you can share with others. It’s always to good idea to share and get opinions from colleagues. Be open to their suggestions.
This process can help you discover insights that you may not have thought of previously. With a solid business plan, your lab project can move forward in the right direction.