You don’t need all of the answers to launch a successful startup, but these six tips sure help.
By Paul Binsfeld, president of Company Nurse, LLC and Enspiri Solutions, LLC
“Jump and the net will appear.”
This is a saying that resonates in the room amongst entrepreneurs I meet with regularly. Like me, my counterparts would not likely say we are risk-takers in the general sense. Rather, I have observed that each one has a strong belief system, a confidence that they can make things happen. This risk is calculated, and the vision is vivid. I personally do not expect to have all of the answers upfront; I tend to “figure it out” along the way.
I recognized this characteristic as early as high school. While all of my siblings attended one Catholic high school in Phoenix, I took that path of an all boys Jesuit prep school. It would have been easier to go the comfortable route, so I wavered on my decision initially. In the end, I chose a direction that afforded me a tremendous opportunity to grow as an individual. Then, after graduating college, I again had the opportunity to “do something different.” While my brothers followed my father into the insurance industry, I made a less traditional choice.
I traveled overseas.
Arriving in Germany, I enrolled in a language school, called the Goethe-Institut, where I met my Norwegian friend, Knut. After attending the Goethe-Institut, I landed a great six-month job in Australia and, soon after, my new friend invited me to Norway where I launched my seven-month backpacking adventure from Norway to Morocco. I later graduated with my MBA in Finance and International Marketing from Business School Lausanne in Switzerland. This three-year period was an instrumental journey in defining myself and building my confidence out of college. While my siblings were building a life and equity in the States, I was following a different path.
Fast-forward 30 years.
When I founded Company Nurse, many said my vision to control workers’ compensation claims could not be done. However, my belief was that employers and employees would both benefit from introducing triage nurses at the time of injury. I focused on self-insured organizations and, following very humble beginnings, grew my business. I had created an offering that did not exist commercially in the workers’ compensation sector back in the mid 1990’s. I have built an established business that is growing at double-digit rates annually. Today, 24/7 nurse triage in the workers’ compensation arena is more common. While it may be easiest to rest on my laurels, being closely involved in the workers’ compensation industry, I see another big, untapped opportunity.
Now is the time to get ahead of a growing niche – or get left behind.
With Company Nurse firmly established, this year I launched its sister-company, called Enspiri Solutions, to complement and expand our offering. Enspiri was created to bring high-quality software and services to the workers’ compensation industry. Not a typical software offering, Enspiri is a complete SaaS solution for nurse triage providers, insurance carriers, third party administrators, and managed care organizations that did not otherwise exist a year ago. How was I confident it would succeed?
My Enspiri business partner, Steve Schmutz, and I have each been in the workers’ compensation industry for over 20 years, but on different sides of the industry. Steve has been on the software side, while I have been on the workers’ compensation consulting and triage side. Together, we built a triage system that supports companies already in the nurse triage market or companies just entering this emerging segment.
This leads me to the most important elements for a successful startup:
Talent. At the top of the list, surround yourself with people you trust, who complement your skillset. Be cautious of bandwidth, so your team is not stretched too thin.
Knowledge. It is dangerous to expand in an area for which you are not an expert. My focus is extremely honed: workers’ compensation nurse triage at the point of injury. Being so focused lends more opportunities because of your intimate understanding of industry players, demands, and trends.
Cash. There is a great deal of unexpected costs in a startup, so be prepared to deal with cash needs or with the option of selling a piece of your dream to keep it going.
Tennis. Find your own outlet to manage stress. I play tennis 4-5 mornings per week to clear my head, and bond with my wife. On that note, communication with your spouse/partner is paramount to establishing a healthy personal life – which positively impacts your professional life.
Progressive. The most successful startups are the ones that are the first and best to market.
Vision. Take the long view because, inevitably, there are unexpected things that will come up along the way.
Most importantly, remember that being confident in your path, even if you don’t have all of the answers right away, will make “the net appear.”
Paul Binsfeld is the founder and president of Company Nurse, LLC, a firm that specializes in medical triage and injury management for workers’ compensation. His career began as a workers’ compensation consultant with mid-size employers helping to streamline claims processes and improve outcomes for injured workers. By working with many different types of employers, he identified a common need for early intervention in the workers’ compensation claims and injury management process, and thus, Company Nurse was born in 1997. Binsfeld – one of the pioneers of the pre-claim nurse triage industry – was recently appointed to the Entrepreneurial Insurance Alliance Advisory Board. He has over 25 years of experience in workers’ compensation and is one of the most influential leaders in the market.