One of the topics that I frequently write and speak about is the need for medical professionals to be able to think like an entrepreneur. While I personally believe that this is important for many professions, I am particularly passionate about its importance in the healthcare industry. The reason is the level of complexity and ambiguity that exists in the medical field. As I speak with doctors, there is a mixed reaction of fear, anger and uncertainty about the future. Many of the normal rules of commerce and business planning simply don’t apply in the medical arena because of regulatory hurdles and the third-party payer system. When I describe “thinking like an entrepreneur,” I am referring to a number of characteristics of great entrepreneurs like understanding your “sweet spot,” coping with change and finding strategic ways to handle the obstacles that come your way.
I recently visited Dr. David Seago, who is a great example of a doctor who understands how to think like an entrepreneur. Dr. Seago is a second-generation oral and maxillofacial surgeon who practices in Jackson with his father, Dr. Donald Seago, who has been practicing for over 30 years. For Dr. Seago, his entrepreneurial spirit grew out of a tragic accident that reminded him how fragile life is and dependent he was on the use of his hands to make a living. On Oct. 19, 2008, Dr. Seago was riding his bicycle on Spillway Road when a car struck him. This resulted in a severe compound fracture of his arm and several broken bones in his hand. He easily could have lost his arm, which would have ended his surgical career.
During his four-month recovery, Dr. Seago began to think about ways to diversify his professional life and earning potential. Since his return to Jackson in 2005 from his training at the University of Texas-Galveston, he had been an avid runner and triathlete. This led to the idea of opening a specialty running/triathlete retail store in Flowood to serve that area. In May 2010, Stinky Feet Athletics opened its doors, and Dr. Seago waded into the entrepreneurial waters. He wisely noted, “It was incredibly important for my family that my wife, Stacy, was 100 percent supportive of this plan. There is no way it would have worked without her support.” In fact, Stacy plays an active role in the store by handling the marketing aspects of the business which rely heavily on social media and community involvement.
Dr. Seago also shared that it was important to him that his business venture was around something that he enjoyed. He shared, “I can’t imagine doing this just for the money. It is much easier to make the time and financial sacrifices when the business is something that you are passionate about.” Seago and wife Stacy have done a great job in fulfilling their mission to serve both new and experienced athletes. They actively support numerous missions and charities through their business including Restoration Hope, a charity supporting AIDS-impacted children in Africa. He said, “I have tried to always focus on hiring great people and get out of their way to do their job. If I am having to micro-manage then I have made a bad hire.” Dr. Seago’s efforts have resulted in a thriving business that is now in expansion mode. He shared, “We are currently considering several opportunities around the state to expand our business.”
In an election year, it will probably be awhile before we get more certainty on the future of medicine and the impact on changes to the healthcare system. The reality is that the healthcare industry will likely be in a continuous state of change for some time. However, I am encouraged to see entrepreneurially minded medical professionals like Dr. Seago who are being proactive to develop their own path and create jobs and help others in the process.
Up Close With Dr. David Seago
Title: Partner in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.A.; founder and CEO of Stinky Feet Athletics, LLC
Favorite Books: Life on the Edge by Dr. James Dobson
First Job: “I worked at Jackson Academy in the summer while I was in high school doing maintenance.”
Proudest Moment as a Leader: “It has been a real blessing to practice side by side with my father and to see him at his very best utilizing all of his years of training and experience to help people in critical situations.”