Understand that starting a business, no matter how small, involves researching the marketplace to see who is delivering similar services, developing a business plan, making key financial decisions about the product/service you will be providing, as well as start-up costs (for supplies, equipment, leasing space, etc.) and completing a series of legal activities. The United States Small Business Administration has a website with excellent tips for those wishing to start their own business. In addition to the SBA's advice, speak to others who have started a similar business. Although a lot of small businesses fail within the first few years, you can plan appropriately and make the transition to making this venture into a full-time money making endeavor.
Some additional steps toward making your plan B include:
- Networking: Getting to know other people in the field, or in related fields, can go a long way in reinventing yourself. People often think of those they know when looking to fill an open spot.
- Become a subject matter expert: There are a lot of niches in the wide world of EMS, including special operations, technology, education and more. Becoming an SME may take some time, but it is practically a guarantee of speaking and writing assignments (which could be a plan B or an element thereof).
EMS providers are traditionally action-oriented, which unfortunately means that issues like researching and developing a backup plan can slip off the radar screen. Taking the necessary steps now, whether it means furthering your education through a degree or certificate, networking more, or attending a state or national EMS conference, will make things easier if there is ever a need to implement your plan B.
Many of the comments shared on Facebook were quite optimistic, but I have to say that I have seen many providers go "down in flames" over the years because they didn't have a backup plan. Please take the opportunity now to map out, and even begin to implement, a plan B before you actually need it. I speak from experience, as I began thinking about my plan B quite awhile before I needed it. I was working full- and part-time jobs in EMS while attending graduate school. Along the way, I decided that, although I wished to stay in EMS (or a related field), I didn't see myself as a field provider for my entire career. When the time came to move into management positions, it was fairly easy and, eventually, my plan B became my plan A. I am not saying the road was easy or always clear, but putting the pieces of my plan together and thinking about the many possible futures I could encounter made things infinitely easier in the long run.
Ed's Note: EMS World will be running profiles of individuals who have successfully developed their own "Plan Bs." If you are interested in being profiled, please e-mail Nancy Perry.
Raphael M. Barishansky, MPH, is chief of public health emergency preparedness for Prince George's County (MD) Health Department. A frequent contributor to and editorial advisory board member of EMS World Magazine, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.