Phyllis Quinlan, RN-Bc, PhD, is a nurse entrepreneur that has survived the often volatile market by utilizing two qualities that nurses know best: adaption to change and the ability to multi-task. She has combined these qualities with her business expertise, and the knowledge that business survival depends upon looking to future for trends. This has resulted in almost two decades of her business’s success.
Her advice to other nurse entrepreneurs is “Be passionate about being a business person not being a nurse who happens to be in business.”
Tell me about your business
- MFW Consultants is a nurse envisioned, owned and operated corporation in business since 1994. Initially the main service offered to my clients was nursing education. In the 1990s most acute care hospitals and LTC facilities were trying their best to utilize government and grant training funds to cross-train or retrain their staff members. Since the utilization of these monies was time sensitive; most in-house staff development departments could not handle to volume of training necessary without assistance from outside consultants. My Firm capitalized on that opportunity and that was the beginning.
- Once clients were happy with the product I delivered, they began to ask if I could do more. So I started to do Quality Management audits/projects and occasionally act in interim roles while searches for key positions were underway.
- I have been a student of Eastern Philosophy and approaches to wellness for many, many years. So it seemed natural to begin to offer Complementary Therapies as part of my services.
- The market began to change in the early part of 2000 as most if not all retraining funds ran their course. So my company’s services needed to expand if I was to stay in business. I then realized that the next big thing was Legal Nurse Consulting and decided to enter that market as well.
- Currently I have been in business for 19 years which is remarkable for a small venture. While my services remain very diverse the core services offered are: Legal Nurse Consulting, Training, Complementary Therapies and Personal/Career coaching.
What inspired you to start this business?
- Essentially my independent spirit. I had a desire to really challenge myself in a manner that conventional nursing practice did not offer. I wasn’t afraid of failing; I was more afraid of not trying and having regrets.
How do you market your business?
- The Internet did not exist in 1994. I really needed to rely on networking, word of mouth and being in the right place and the right time otherwise known as luck in the beginning.
- I began to do direct marketing via email as I broke into the Legal Nurse Consulting venue. As my Firm grew in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was clear that I needed a website.
- I also capitalized on an opportunity to collaborate with other independent consulting firms as an independent senior consultant. Essentially these Firms outsourced work to my Firm or occasionally we collaborated on a project they had. It was a lot of fun.
- In late 2011, I felt the need to rethink my marketing strategy. My business was growing but my website was dated and did not represent my Firm’s services clearly. I was also ready to invest in growing my business so I secured the services of a marketing specialist. It was the best investment I made since my website. She was able to help me rethink, refine and represent my Firm’s message is a modern and clear fashion that became the foundation of the recent growth in my Firm’s services and reputation. She moved me into Social Media vehicles such as Blogging and LinkedIn. It was a lot of work with a very big return on my investment and sweat equity. I also invested in a small amount of print advertising.
Are most of your business clients a result of web marketing or are they local?
- My attorney clients are a combination of clients gained though direct email marketing and referrals.
- My Energetic/Complementary Therapy clients are mostly local as are the clients that utilize my training services
- My personal and career coaching services are international. While most of my clients are within the continental USA, I have several clients in other countries. We connect via Skype or phone.
- I must say that having a Social Media presence enhanced my ability to Network in all sorts of unanticipated ways in a very short period of time.
Do you frequently run special promotions and do they help stimulate business?
- I do offer a free 20 to 30 minute coaching session in order to get a sense if the client’s concern or goals and also to get a sense if we are going to be a good fit. A good fit is vital.
Do you have any advice to nurses that are just starting their business?
- #1 do not be afraid to try.
- Tool up. Take some business courses so that you understand the specialty of Entrepreneurism. Not having a fundamental understanding of business/marketing is like saying you want to do some shifts in L&D, the emergency department or the OR without any specialized training. You are setting yourself up for failure.
- Do your homework on the process on incorporation. There are many types of corporations in the USA and you need to decide on the one that offers you the best protection and financial security.
- Develop a relationship with your banker. They can walk you through the world of business banking.
Be passionate about being a business person not being a nurse who happens to be in business. Do not pin your hopes and dreams on one product or service. That is what a nurse who happens to be in business would do. Rather, decide that Entrepreneurism is your new specialty.
This means that your mindset is in being in business and staying in business. Staying knowledgeable about the market and challenging yourself to anticipate the new opportunity and tooling your Firm up to be ready to carve out your fair market share.
Phyllis Quinlan, RN-Bc, PhD