Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Adam Block, Founder of Charm Economics, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Charm Economics is a boutique health economics analytics and consulting firm that builds return on investment (ROI) models for digital health and medical technology startups. We help companies distill their business case and value proposition and quantify the value by leveraging a combination of government data, peer-reviewed publications, and client-specific data and analytics.
Tell us about yourself
I am an academic health economist. By training, I spent five years in government doing policy cost estimates and then five years in the private sector working for health plans and hospital systems, in part helping to identify strong digital health partners. I found that many digital health startups had a great clinical case and great user interface, but when it came time to quantify the business value to clients, most companies' financial model was all smoke and mirrors, and CFOs saw right through it. My knowledge base in publicly available data sets and research allowed me to estimate cost savings concisely. I started Charm Economics to provide these financial models to digital health startups in a timeframe they can use: 3 months or less, and at a price point they can afford after a seed round or Series A funding. Each client is different, so I am always solving a slightly different problem, and I love that. Plus, I get to do a deep dive into many companies in the space, and that helps me to understand the industry as a whole.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Hiring. I hired seven workers at 10 hours a week and came to an epiphany I should hire one FTE. That made this into a "real business" from a solo consulting shop. Today I am fortunate to have found a passionate small, tight-knit, remote team that loves our mission, is not afraid to try new things, builds on its strengths, and learns from mentors. They are a joy to work with. My team could choose to work at lots of organizations, but they took a chance on Charm, and I am focused on not letting them down. That means having them share in our success and giving them lots of opportunities to showcase their work with clients and at conferences, and treating them with respect and as whole people with lives, goals, and dreams.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Accounts receivable. Once a contract is complete, clients vary in how long it takes to pay you. Sometimes the money just appears five days after an invoice, sometimes it appears 30 days, and sometimes it requires chasing for 90+ days, and all of that time creates an awkwardness in the business relationship and is really wasted from an efficiency standpoint. But payroll comes every two weeks, so balancing that can be unpleasant; I'd rather focus on business development or project work.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Provide a clear, tangible product or service that meets a business or consumer need and articulate it to clients. It cannot be amorphous.
- Know your market, how much they value your product/service, what time frame they need, and what format they want the deliverable.
- Don't quit your job until you have some success. It is easy to make a logo and write your bio. It is hard to sell your first client and deliver. Sell a few. Then jump.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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