Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with PK Bala, CEO of Quality Biomedical Inc., located in Boulder, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We manage the lifecycle care of medical equipment for healthcare companies that operate outside the hospital environment. Leveraging a purpose-built technology platform called QConnect, to manage all business processes from user self-administration, change of control of assets, logistics management, service and repair operations, and document management. We have built out a service network that provides medical equipment management nationwide. Our core focus is on respiratory and infusion equipment. Examples of healthcare companies that operate outside the hospital environment are Home Medical companies, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Long Term Acute Care facilities, EMS, and Government emergency management agencies.
Tell us about yourself
I have held a number of CEO/COO-type positions in several technology companies all over the world. My wife fell ill in 2013, and I left my corporate position to help her navigate our healthcare system for about 14 months. After she recovered, I decided to buy a healthcare-related company because I observed first-hand how inefficient our healthcare system is. During my research, I came across the home healthcare industry and noticed that it was growing at twice the rate of overall healthcare. The industry had to manage millions of units of medical equipment located in about 6 to 7,000 warehouse locations around the country that cared for patients within an accessible radius around them. The companies providing service support to the industry were small companies that only operated within a very narrow geography and were very unsophisticated, and did not utilize technology to help manage or leverage their business. I felt that this fragmented industry could be significantly improved by the application of appropriate technology and business processes to build the first national service company in this industry. I ended up purchasing a small service company in Florida and built out the company I had envisaged. Today we are the only national service company in our industry.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To identify an opportunity in a fragmented industry needing consolidation and then accomplishing the vision on the ground.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Cash, cash, and cash. Cash dominates your everyday thinking, especially if you are building out something big and expensive. In the early years, outside investors can get very nervous, so it is best to plow along until a semblance of your vision is visible. Even then, cash continues to dominate your thinking to avoid too much dilution.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be very clear in your thinking about the opportunity you are going after and stick to it. Very "knowledgeable and well-meaning." people will offer advice along the way that could easily derail your vision if you have not through it clearly. At the early stages, prospective investors will seek to rewrite your entire business plan after meeting you for 15 minutes. Be clear and stick to your vision.
- Manage your cash well. Understand all the dynamics of cash management. Don't worry about revenue and profit as much in the early years. As the business owner, take the time to really understand your finances and get really good at mastering how to invoice your customers and how to pay your vendors.
- Determine how much Opex you can afford and stick to it. Your business needs to deliver a certain cash flow so you can fund some level of growth before you bring on an investor. Figure out the OPEX plus the net income you can support to avoid running into cash crunches.
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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