Flu Shots and the Small Business Entrepreneur

October 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Economics

Yes – “flu shots” and “entrepreneur” are related. Just stay with me for a short post and I will explain.

I just returned from the second floor lobby of our office building where I (and many others who work in this building) received an H1N1 flu shot. Yes, the flu shot that is now in short supply across the country. The flu shot that our county health department ran out of last week after only a few days.

How is this possible? Who gave me this flu shot? How much did it cost?

This is where the entrepreneur part comes in.

The company that came on site to provide the shots is called Nursing Resource Solutions. According to its website, it is a local nurse staffing business, owned and operated by nurses, for nurses. That in itself is relatively unusual. Most nurses are employees of large health care facilities and are pushed around by corporate bureaucrats and by physicians. Mrs. ToughMoneyLove – being an RN herself – knows all about this. So I was happy to see that this group of nurses had taken matters – and business – into their own hands.

One of the owners of the business – a young African American man – was on-site with his team of shot-givers. After I received my shot, I asked him how he was able to get the H1N1 vaccine (mist and IM versions) when so many others could not. His answer:  We filled out the paperwork and submitted it early. How refreshingly simple is that?

In other words, this small business was on top of things from the beginning. The owners saw an opportunity and jumped on it. Now they have a product that is in high demand and in short supply. What a great combination for a small business entrepreneur.

I also have to give this business credit for its efficiency. First, they distributed the pre-shot literature and consent forms early by providing it to building management who then emailed it to all of the tenants. Everyone showed up with the forms in hand, filled out. The shot cost only $20.00. No insurance forms were involved. They provided a receipt on request so the recipients could file it with insurance if they desired. Their non-labor overhead consisted of a folding table and chairs and few bags of cotton balls and alcohol swabs.

When it comes to signs of a successful entrepreneur, that’s what I’m talking about.

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9 Responses to “Flu Shots and the Small Business Entrepreneur”
  1. cjbr549 says:

    Ah, the ever so efficient count government. On a similar note (i.e. someone not doing their job), I saw that PepsiCo wound up with a 1.26 Billion dollar judgment because someone didn’t properly forward the legal papers and PepsiCo didn’t show up for their court date. I suspect that they may be able to repair the damage somewhat, but any way you look at it, the incompetence of a very few will be extremely costly to them. This shows the importance of having good, reliable people in key positions.

  2. Terry says:

    Was the on-site owner an RN? Or just an entrepreneur with money?

    Having a good business idea is worth squat if you don’t have money.

  3. MasterPo says:

    CJ – Nothing really new. I believe it was JP Morgan that a few years ago lost their domain name because someone forgot to pay the $20/yr renewal fee to the registrar! They got it back but you’d think a company like that with such a large brand image would remember to pay the domain bill. 😉

    Terry – That’s where the investor comes in. The market place is full of entrepreneurs with great ideas (and many not-so-great) and little cash, as well as people with extra cash and no ideas where to utilize it.

    By getting the entrepreneur and the investor together good ideas get the finanical backing they need to get off the ground and bad ideas usually fall to the dust (and if they don’t then someone is out a lot of money because money can’t make a pile of manure smell any better).

    Of course, that means a LOT of “risk”. Even the greatest idea is far from a certainty. So both the investor and entrepreneur are opening themselves up to major risk.

    Which all comes back to the incentive motivation.

    The investor isn’t putting money towards the entrepreneur’s idea out of their sheer generosity and good nature. The investor wants to make $$$$! So does the entrepreneur.

    But when government comes along and says “If you take a big risk and does reward well then we have the right to swoop in and take a big chunk of that reward you risked for because you did well and someone else didn’t!”

    That kills the incentive which in turn dries up the investor pool and squashes the ideas of the entrepreneur.

  4. Rick Beagle says:

    I just had a thought, what if your entrepreneur just perpetuated a scam? Have you verified the authenticity of the vaccine you just received? The government purchased ALL vaccines in an effort to stem the tide of the swine flu, but have fallen short -but not due to the reasons you folks continue to perpetuate incorrectly- because the manufacturers have not been able to produce the amount that THEY projected. Which brings me back to your Entrepreneur, if the Federal Government cannot get their hands on the vaccine, how exactly did your entrepreneur do it?

    “We filled out our request early?”

    The US government purchased ALL vaccines… every drop, so um, either they got it illegally, provided something other than the h1n1 vaccine, or when they got it from the US Government before shortages were reported (which is what I hope and suspect). Either answer diminishes the story of the entrepreneurial spirit, and you find yourself in the unlikely position of thanking the US Government for providing an opportunity to these people to help you.

    Rick Beagle

    PS btw The US government does indeed have a shortage of H1N1 vaccines, but not because of their lack of effort. The suppliers (private businesses) have not been able to meet their own quotas…. That’s right, private businesses over promised and under delivered…. So, um, get your dang stories straight.

  5. Rick – I considered the scam theory but (a) the business is legit and (b) they vaccinated about 50 lawyers and their kids in one day so if it is a scam, someone is going to jail for a long time when we get through with them.

    My point about the government fail is that private business has supplies now but the government agencies do not. The CDC processes vaccine distribution requests but the CDC contracts out actual distribution to regional contractors. This is from the CDC website:

    8. How is vaccine shipped to project areas?
    CDC’s contractor for centralized distribution ships vaccine to hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, health departments, and other providers of vaccines that have been designated as vaccine-receiving sites by the Project Area (the project areas include all 50 states, the District of Columbia, 8 US Territories and freely associated states, and 3 large metropolitan health departments).”

    So I credit this small business for getting the vaccine when many of the larger providers did not.

  6. Terry says:

    Master Po –

    Yes, I have read about VC firms and angel investors; undoubtedly you are familiar with these concepts. I’ve read enough to understand that burger flippers don’t get funded, no matter how good their idea might be.

  7. MasterPo says:

    Terry – Actually, nothing can be further from the truth.

    There have been many great ideas funded that were conceived of by “burger flippers”. For example, I once read that Electronic Arts signed a deal to develop a game (“Loadrunner” I think it was) based on a concept drawn litertally on a 8×11 loose leaf paper. And the story of how Oracle got its start is based on a design drawn on cocktail napkin.

    While I grant those are legendary, a good idea stands on it’s own regardless of source.

    BUT – and that’s the issue – an idea by itself usually isn’t enough if you plan to get VC firms, angels etc involved.

    You *MUST* also do your homework!

    Research your idea. Come up with a Business Plan. Show how you’re going to make whatever, how you’re going to market it, what the potential sales are, *how* you arrived at these estimates and *why* you think they are legit, etc etc.

    If you just walk in and say “I have an idea for a Super Widget now give me $1,000,000 to make it happen”, get the stop watch going…

    IOW, make the people BELIEVE you are serious. VC’s and private investors are by nature big risk takers. But they aren’t fools. I’ve been approached several times in my life to invest in someone’s private business. Everything from a resturant to a strip mall to a B&B. In all cases I was interested and very likely would have invested *IF* the people had done their own homework and presented themselves as serious. Otherwise it was just handing out money and I don’t do that.

  8. Terry says:

    What I’m saying is that a burger flipper lacks the sort of positive track record investors seek – the consern is, the idea might be great, but how exactly is a buger flipper going to pull it off?

  9. MasterPo says:

    Track record helps, but is definately not a requirement (Steve Jobs had a LOT of failures after first being in Apple but that didn’t stop him from getting support for Pixar and other projects – not sure how he did it but if I were a VC I would have asked ‘So how are those NeXT computers doing? 😉 ).

    However, a burger flipper would probably much better offer NOT going to a VC firm outright. That’s a pretty big step with someone with merely a good idea.

    Most entreprenuers never even deal with a VC firm, ever. There are many drawbacks that I’m not going to list now.

    Most entreprenurs pour every dime they have into their idea, max out credit cards, try to beg and borrow money from family and friends, get a personal loan if the can, sell the car etc etc. At least to get off the ground, then go looking for investors.

    And even then a great many entreprenurs do NOT want investors. They may need someone to make a loan but not an investor. An investor will want an equity ownership in the idea and most entreprenurs are very loath to sell equity in a new idea especially at first.

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