Entrepreneurship -The Road Less Traveled

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Entrepreneurship -The Road Less TraveledWhen I started my education business 22 years ago, I had a dream and vision – to launch a public seminar for nurses and take it on the road. I couldn’t possibly have known where that road would lead me – and what a difference it would make for me – personally and professionally.

Certainly, I set out to make a living and was looking for creative freedom and flexibility in my life when I launched my venture. What I didn’t realize is that in taking big risks, stepping way out of my comfort zone, pushing myself to places I never dreamed I’d go, I began to learn who I really was and what I was capable of. When you start to master things you always feared and never imagined you’d be able to do, barriers start to fall away, courage and confidence start to build, and inner vision starts to expand.

Initially, I offered public seminars for nurses on career-related topics. But I quickly discovered that there were even bigger and better opportunities to speak in hospitals, at conventions, association meetings, corporations and other venues. So I researched what the needs of my target audience were, learned to develop and deliver continuing education programs, and took the all important step of learning how to run a business. I did all this through self-study, by attending how-to seminars, networking with more experienced people and sometimes by trial and error. Each time I pushed myself a little further along, I acquired a little more courage and a little more skill to keep moving forward.

Although I never set out to write and was convinced I had no ability to do so, I found myself being “forced” (in a good way) to write because clients had that expectation of an educator. So I learned how to write articles by reading about the craft in books, studying the content of publications I wanted to write for, and by starting small with short articles submitted to association newsletters. When an opportunity to write my first book was presented by a publisher, I said ‘Yes,’ signed the contract, went into a deep state of panic, and was once again forced (in a good way) to figure out how to get it done. Since then I have written two additional books and am working on my fourth. Who knew I had a writer hiding within?

I also discovered that being self-employed gave me the ability to reach a wider nursing audience through my speaking engagements, advice columns, and articles. When I was asked to blog at DoctorOz.com, be on cable and national TV, and be quoted in national mainstream publications, I realized the opportunity and the responsibility I had to represent nursing to the general public and bring health information to the masses. This has been both empowering and exhilarating not to mention self-satisfying. To find your own voice and then have an outlet to express yourself, share acquired knowledge and experience and make an even bigger difference in the world – there is no greater gift.

Beyond all that, my business has taken me around the world to military hospitals in Europe, on education cruises to exotic places, and some of the world’s top medical centers. I’ve spoken to groups as large as 6,000 and been on panels with industry leaders and experts that I was star struck to be near. I’ve met politicians, celebrities, authors, change agents, gurus and best of all – thousands of nurses and fellow human beings in every corner of the planet who have shared their life stories, their challenges, their successes and their innermost thoughts, desires and fears with me. These are all things I likely never would have experienced had I followed a more traditional path.

It’s important to note that when I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship almost two decades ago, I was at a low point in my life and experiencing a spiritual crisis. I was not happy, my self-esteem was at an all-time low, and I had fallen into a physical and emotional slump. I also had plenty of people telling me why starting a business was a bad idea and that the odds were against me in succeeding. But sometimes you have to veer from the seemingly safe and sure path and see where another path will lead, even if you have to walk alone for a time. It forces you (in a good way) to rely more on yourself and your natural instincts. You are required to try things that you wouldn’t have otherwise done. It makes you realize that as Christopher Robin said to Pooh “You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Yes, entrepreneurship is the road less traveled for nurses, but for me, it has been the road to self-actualization, self-discovery, happiness, lots of hard work – nothing new to a nurse of 30+ years – and a very comfortable living. As Robert Frost wrote, it has indeed “made all the difference” in my life, and hopefully in many others’ – in a good way!

©Copyright Donna Cardillo www.dcardillo.com. All right reserved.

7 thoughts on “Entrepreneurship -The Road Less Traveled”

  1. I believe I was born with the Entrepreneurial gene. I have been a RN for 30+ years, and have had several businesses off and on. Now as I enter my second year of business I am enjoying my business more and more as I focus on growing my Home Health/care training company. The Administrators, Managers, and owners can be amazing and great to work with 98% of the time.

    1. I feel the same way too! I owned a small nurses registry years ago I learned a lot it was an interesting experience. I would love to start an advisory business helping nurses start their own nursing registry. I would offer services with everything they need, to get up and running from hiring employees to day-today operations. I feel inspired by this site maybe I will get around to it soon.

      1. I would love to have help starting my own business!!
        RN 10yrs
        Bedside to Administration lead to a spiritual awakening that I wanted to Live for a Living- detour off the political corporations in my area – Provide Quality Compassionate Care
        Knowing I can sleep at night.

  2. I’ve also always had the “entrepreneurial gene.” Signing on as a franchise was never appealing to me. I guess I like things more challenging, like Donna.
    I’ve been running an online community for Nursing Students. My passion lies with encouraging students to help each other now. . . and throughout their nursing career. The students come up with the most fantastic scenarios of possible patient encounters. They record those scenarios, acted out by them, and I embed them into my community so that all may learn from their class projects.
    If anyone has the entrepreneurial gene and a passion I suggest going to Meetup.com and search “start ups” or “entrepreneur” in your area. Start your adventure!

  3. I agree with you that most nurses never consider leaving the healthcare industry and venture into business. Similar to you, this year i made my move into the world of entrepreneurship. It’s not an easy road and there are a lot of uncertainties but i wouldn’t want it any other way. My name is Steven L from Therelentless.net. I am a full time Trauma, RN in Central Florida and a part time Technology entrepreneur and Real Estate investor on my days off. Thank you for shaping the road less traveled by for us nurses.

  4. Great article… you have really paved a pathway for aspiring nurse entrepreneurs! I never thought about starting my own business until recently and the thought of all of the work involved and putting myself out there is a little bit scary. However, I think we all need to do something that takes us out of our comfort zone. I aspire to one day own a business that focuses on wellness (health coach? nutrition counseling?) but for now I have started a blog to reach a general audience focusing on wellness and prevention. I would appreciate any blogging tips, thank you!

    1. Hi Shannon. Starting a wellness blog is a great start. Do you belong to the National Nurses in Business Association http://www.nnbanow.com? If not, check them out and consider attending the annual conference in St. Pete, FL next month. There will be many nurses there who work in wellness in various ways. There is even a pre-conference workshop on blogging and one on Business Basics Bootcamp (I’m leading this one). It will be an amazing weekend. You can also read Brittney Wilson’s book (she’s co-facilitator for the blogging pre-con) titled The Nerdy Nurse’s Guide to Technology. Hope to see you at NNBA!

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