#14: How to Create a Health Tech Business Plan with Michelle Boucher
Super excited to have Michelle Boucher join me for the next two episodes of Mission Marketing. Over the years, Michelle has successfully worn many hats.
At the age of 23 she launched her career. She started as a partner in a software business, later selling it for millions. After six entrepreneur ventures, she knows a thing or two about startups and how they succeed.
Her contributions to health IT are immeasurable. In 2014, alongside John Lynn, she co-founded HITMC. She’s helped startups grow to seven figures in a matter of months. Now she works as a HIT consultant - helping businesses create strategies that get results.
Her work in other industries has created waves, too. Her baby boutique, Baby Outfitters, was an ecommerce leader in baby products. She innovated in the stroller industry with the first ever pink stroller.
This week, Michelle is here to help startups understand how to use business plans to leverage their market.
How Michelle got into HIT
After exiting the baby product industry, Michelle went back to tech and in 2011 began working for an HIT company that developed EHR solutions.
Her transition into healthcare IT had her building marketing departments from the ground up. Now she works as a consultant and coach to CEOs and founders of new organizations.
Using business plans to your advantage
Most startups have some sort of plan. Not all of them use it to its full potential though. That’s where Michelle comes in. She helps businesses create a plan and integrate it into every part of the company.
Size and scope of your organization play a major role in how you work your plan. In this week’s episode, Michelle speaks primarily to startups and organizations with revenues under $20 million.
For any organization backed by venture capital, there are expectations for significant growth. And while nobody writes business plans with failure as part of the plan, many don’t focus on a specific market.
Startups especially need to focus on one niche. Like trying to start a push start three cars at once, you can’t expect to get revenue rolling when you’re focused on too many niches. Start with one and become an expert in that niche.
Simplify, simplify, simplify
In her experience creating business plans, Michelle discovered most business plans are too complicated - sometimes hundreds of pages long.
But a business plan is just this: a goal with strategy behind it.
So ask yourself, “what is my goal?” Your goal shouldn’t go beyond three years out. Take this three year goal and create milestones for the first year. What milestones need to be reached in the first year to reach your goal?
Then break the first year down into 90 day sprints. And the 90 day sprints into weekly goals.
By creating a business plan like this, you give your company and employees actionable goals. But more than that, you give direction for every job they do.
As your teams behind the 3 year vision, you’ll start to gain traction.
Creating passion in every department
While the above strategy works for many companies, Michelle says it doesn’t matter whether you work from small to large or vice versa. What matters most is that you have direction and that EVERYONE knows the direction.
Michelle cited a real life example of this. When she was working with a medical software company, she spent time with the engineering department. She discovered that the engineers didn’t know their company’s direction.
So she brought the vision from sales and marketing to the engineers. When they found out that their projects helped saved lives, they took a new sense of pride and ownership. It changed the way they worked.
Michelle hit on a major concept for leaders. People need to know why they’re doing what they’re doing. Without direction, daily tasks seem purposeless.
You want your people to be passionate about their work? Give them a sense of purpose.
Three things startups get wrong with business plans
Drawing from her wealth of experience, Michelle sees similar struggles among startups. When it comes to business plans, here are several things that go wrong.
1. Expectations aren’t based on fact or reality
If your expectations aren’t based on reality, this often has to do with infrastructure. Do you have systems in place for the growth you envision?
For instance, if sales is generating their own leads while also expected to close deals, you’re wasting precious money and time. You can’t sustain growth this way.
2. Create a business plan but never look at it again
The startups that create business plans but never look at them again tend to be driven by the market. Rather than directing growth, they rely on outside factors to dictate their direction.
Sometimes this leads businesses to put all their hopes in one client. Michelle warns that this can fail a business. You need to use your business plan as your guide.
3. Not aggressive enough
Businesses that aren’t aggressive enough don’t try to stretch themselves. A key to rapid growth is creating goals that stretch but don’t discourage. Michelle offers this hack: get input from your sales departments about goals.
Every quarter revisit these stretch goals. If outside circumstances prevent sales from reaching these goals, reset the expectations.
Michelle also commented that stretch goals aren’t always monetary. A goal for a sales department could be to open up a new market for the company. Or it could be to retain clients longer. The point is that these goals stretch.
What healthcare can learn from other industries
There are many great ideas in other industries that healthcare could learn from. Healthcare organizations could especially learn how to use webinars better, says Michelle.
Most webinars are informational and, quite frankly, are boring. Michelle wants people to know that there are ways to leverage your audience without being pushy or frustrating.
To learn more about her strategy, check out Michelle’s “Top 10 Winning Webinar Secrets for Health Tech Marketers”, and stay tuned for next week’s episode because Michelle will deep dive into how to create a great webinar.
How is healthcare different from other industries
While healthcare has a lot to learn from other industries, it’s also very different from them. Michelle mentioned that the difference is primarily in sales cycles.
Health tech companies aren’t always in charge of their sales cycles. And even when they are, sales cycles can be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years long.
The takeaway: Create a 3 year plan on 1 piece of paper
Michelle has a super helpful resource that’ll walk you through step by step. Watch her video and follow the downloadable guide. With these tools, you can focus your resources on one niche.
Your business plan should include:
How you plan to own that niche
How you’ll become a key player in that sector.
Take your plan and become an expert in that market. Then when you successfully connect, you can overlay your plan onto other sectors of the market.
In short, startups need to go deep rather than wide in the health IT market. It’s the fastest way to revenue. Then, as your revenue supports you, you can expand to other markets.
Michelle has three book recommendations. The first is The Shack which she found to be very inspirational.
Then Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller. For anyone new to marketing, this is a must read. It will help you define your marketing strategy better than any other book I know of. If you love this book, check out my other list of must-read marketing books.
And, lastly, Crossing the Chasm. Once you read this book, you’ll understand the lifecycle of tech businesses. You’ll come away with in depth knowledge of how the tech sector works and how to navigate it.
Want to connect with Michelle? Find her here:
Like what you hear?
And, as always, if you need help with your marketing…
Let’s talk. You can book your free consulting session with me today.