I repeatedly hear midwives talking about the barriers (some real and some imagined) that stop them from starting their dream practices. One common theme is that they are not pursuing their midwifery vision, their desire for practice freedom, out of fear of losing economic security. They want the comfort of a paycheck or the regular hours of a structured job, and are glad to hand over the running of a business to someone else. Some of these concerns are legitimate, but there are many misunderstanding of what owning a business can really look like.
Some midwives are concerned they don’t have the funds to start a business or the knowledge it takes to be a boss. These, however, don’t have to be obstacles. You can overcome both of those challenges. A first step can entail taking business and professional courses either in person, on line, or via self study. You can create a business plan with the help of a business mentor or consultant, and will usually be able to find the funding needed to create any dream business practice. Start-up money will not be an obstacle if you can show where the profit will be made or how a community need will be filled by your plan. Too many midwives feel they need to use their own money and start small to get to where they want to be. It’s hard to start a practice when you think of it only as a transition from working for someone else to working all the time for yourself. Instead, I tell midwives, “I want you to create a business, not become self employed”
Anything is truly possible with the right experts on your team. These people—consultants, accountants, lawyers, marketers, financial planners—can fill the gaps in your knowledge and expertise. Some will need to be paid outright, but there are many forms of currency available. We can often trade our knowledge, relationships and time instead of our hard earned money while creating those dream practices.
Time is our most valuable asset, and I understand it when people say, “I don’t have time to plan and run a business” or “my job is a full time one that I need until the practice gets going” or “my kids have after school projects.” “I take care of my parents a few days a week.” “I barely have enough time to sleep, let alone start a company, which I have never done before.” These may all be true, but what I have seen is that anything is possible when you truly want it to happen. We all have the same amount of hours in a day; what distinguishes the average person from the great one is what they do with that time. Do you prioritize doing hobbies and projects that won’t impact your long term growth opportunities? Do you listen to the radio or to audiobooks while driving? Do you take a night class, or do you sit on your couch watching a comedy sitcom? Prioritizing your vision of the possible can shift your point of view—and let you see that there is time in your schedule to make the small changes that lead to making your dream a reality.
I want to stress that creating a business does take time to plan and create, but planning well can provide more business opportunities than a job for someone else will ever offer you, and access in the long term to more time for you and your family. Where do you want to be in 5, 10, or 15 years? Do you want to be working the same 9-5 job Monday through Friday, or do you want to have multiple income streams and the flexibility to travel, perform mission work, or have increased access to midwifery opportunities? The choice of which path you take is determined by which mental and physical barriers you choose to get past. If you want to start your dream midwifery practice, these barriers can melt away.