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Whats makes a successful entrepreneur?

The AOP's chief executive on entrepreneurship

18 Feb 2016 by Henrietta Alderman

An entrepreneur takes risk and uses initiative to build new businesses and attempt to make profits. This could apply to any business, but it has a strong resonance in the world of optics.

There is no easy route to a successful business and there are many factors that make it happen. Being hungry for success is important, but being tempted to take shortcuts could leave the business exposed and if the pursuit is financial gain at the expense of those working in the business, it will be short-lived. An entrepreneur should be hungry – but not greedy.

On a global level, as in optics, entrepreneurs are essential for the growth and development of the economy. They are often disruptive, but they do provide fresh thinking and ideas, as well as challenges to the status quo. We have witnessed the varying fortunes of companies such as Ryanair, where a price war at the expense of customer service led to a loss in market share. Then the company realised that charm and small concessions, such as allowing women to carry their handbags separately without extra charge, delivered a huge amount of goodwill.

"Optometrists have been fantastically good at adapting over the years and the landscape is continually changing. Devolution, vanguards and the need to deliver enhanced services and take the pressure off A&E eye departments is pressing"

We all know that customers can be fickle and the business survivors are the ones who are able to continually change and adapt to the prevailing climate, take advantage of technological developments and lead their teams through the change too. 

The most important elements of a successful business are the people within it; the skills they bring, their part in the team and therefore the value they give to the business. 

Optometrists have been fantastically good at adapting over the years and the landscape is continually changing. Devolution, vanguards and the need to deliver enhanced services and take the pressure off A&E eye departments is pressing. Significant energy and engagement is needed through the local optical committees and the clinical commissioning groups to ensure that optical practices are recognised as indispensible in the community. And the LOC Support Unit has plans to increase its support for this work.

There has been a fair amount of acknowledgement that excessive pressures on staff can be very damaging. It is crucial that optical practices strike the right balance between the needs of their patients and their business requirements. In 2013–14 the AOP undertook a significant member survey to better understand the pressures and concerns of both our members and of the profession as a whole. Financial pressures leading to a potential compromise of clinical standards was consistently of concern, together with sight test fees and the lack of public awareness of the importance of good eye health and the role that optometrists play in it.

These concerns were recently confirmed in an AOP Council debate, and during 2016 the AOP Policy Committee will be researching the impacts of pressures within practice on the health and wellbeing of optometrists. We will use the results to help us develop ways of supporting our members. When the survey lands in Spring, please take the time to engage with it. It matters for you and for the optometrists.

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