As a senior at college, Brent Lacey was already enrolled in the medical school and was due to start in the fall. But he didn't know what kind of medicine to practice or how to best use his upcoming training.
"I really felt like I only needed one direction."
So he drove to Yellowstone National Park and spent a week praying and meditating alone. Time made him feel "like I was called up for military service," which surprised Brent. No one in his family is military, and he had never considered this path before.
He felt a strong vocation and called some recruiters who told him that the Navy desperately needed people.
He received a Navy grant from the medical school at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He then completed his internal medicine and gastroenterology training with the Navy in San Diego, followed by tours in Florida and North Carolina.
"And now it's 15 years later and here I am."
Brent's time as a Navy doctor – or more specifically, as a gastroenterologist for adults – was "incredibly rewarding," but a job in a private practice in Texas means his term of service will end this summer.
It's the beginning of a whole new chapter for Brent and his family – but it's not the only thing that leads his life in exciting directions.
From discipleship to entrepreneurship
Brent's business started as a service in his church, where he taught courses based on Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. After a few years, Brent found that there was a great need for financial knowledge in the community. That is why he created a program for "financial discipleship" and started with free financial coaching – all free of charge.
Then nurses and doctors in the hospital where he worked started asking Brent for help with their finances. "I got the same questions over and over again. And I thought it would be nice if I could write something down somewhere that I could simply point out to someone. "
In mid-2019, Brent decided that a blog would be a great way to accomplish that goal, but he didn't know where to start. And so a humble Google search: how do you start a blog?
That led him to many different resources, including SPI. He scanned the materials, read blogs and heard podcast episodes. "I think I went back and listened to about half of the Smart Passive Income (podcast) episodes, starting with episode 1."
Fortunately, Brent had always been a writer, so he knew what it took to write a decent blog post. But he wanted to make sure that his idea was viable before spending a lot of time or money on it. That's why he took Pat & # 39; s BYOB (Build Your Own Brand) course in May 2019.
He decided to write twenty-five blog posts as a test, "because if I can't get through at least one a week, it's not worth it." He finished every twenty-five in just six weeks.
"Okay, that's fun," he thought. So he took the next steps: Register a domain, set up a simple WordPress site, and started his blog in October with the name The Scope of Practice.
The blog started with a focus on “financial discipleship” – a highly saturated space that includes big names like Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. Brent realized "it would be difficult to assert yourself … at least in the beginning."
"But maybe I can really make myself valuable for a smaller group," thought Brent. "As Pat always says:" The riches are in the niches. "
"And in the medical world, healthcare appears to be a pretty logical starting point."
Refine the niche
With more research, Brent found that few people in the medical field wrote, podcasted, and spoke about personal finance. He estimates that the number of entrepreneurs who focus on this niche is less than one hundred, and is likely to be between sixty and eighty.
Brent knew from Pat's guidance that it was possible to have a thriving business with a small but committed following. So he set about building one by focusing on the Venn diagram interface between business and personal financial control for doctors.
Adding a business component seemed like a great way to differentiate yourself from the other personal finance gurus – especially since doctors are generally not very good at it.
“They go to medical or dental school and end up really great at their craft. But suddenly they are small business owners and they weren't trained for that at all. "
By focusing on corporate governance and financial literacy, Brent can connect with and work with people who need help in one or both of these areas – and sometimes even support them beyond their original needs.
“If there is someone who wants to know more about leadership and want to practice management and the like, I can offer that – plus the personal finance arm. And the same thing when people come for personal finance: I can turn it around and say, "Well, a lot of people have business problems too."
Another thing Brent did initially was starting his email list. “One of the biggest regrets I've heard from people starting online businesses is that they wish they started their email list much earlier. And so I did it straight out of the gate. "
He currently has an "active" list of around 700 people, which he has expanded through a combination of guest contributions and podcast appearances. He got to know many other bloggers and podcasters in his field.
One of the things he learned to appreciate about this community is: "Everyone really wants to help other people." Everyone is in competition with each other. But just kind of – I mean, everyone is really willing to help. "
Your own podcast
As soon as the blog buzzed, Brent started to branch out and launched a few small promotions to expand his audience. He also accepted several invitations to attend podcasts from people, ”and found that I really liked it. It's a lot more fun than just sitting down and posting a blog post. "
So, he thought, why not start your own podcast?
He took the power-up podcasting course in February and March 2020, and then set a start date for May 18 in mid-March. He would use the time in between to record a backlog of episodes.
With a few episodes in the tank, the COVID-19 shutdown hit. With no one planning to go to the hospital for dialing, Brent suddenly had a lot of time. He decided to include as many episodes as possible.
"Suddenly I felt that I had the license to only address people." He started emailing other personal financial bloggers from doctors with decent followers and asking if they would join him on the podcast to promote their content.
"And they all loved to do that," says Brent. But he was beginning to wonder what would happen if he increased the stake. Going through the archives of the leadership and business podcasts he'd heard for several years, he chose his twenty-five favorite episodes from each episode. He wrote down the names of the guests in these episodes and addressed them.
"I was amazed at the kind of people who said yes." These included presentation design expert, Nancy Duarte, whose TED presentation has millions of views, Ken Coleman, whose show is a top 10 business podcast, JJ Peterson, chief education and moderator at StoryBrand, and Scott Parazynski, a doctor and former astronaut also climbed Mount Everest.
All for a podcast that hasn't even started.
Brent with his wife Catherine and sons Drew (left) and Grant
Brent points out that he had plenty of evidence to share with potential respondents, including his email list and his Facebook and LinkedIn followers. But beyond that, when people ask Brent how he landed all these guests, he says, "I was just asking directly. That was & # 39; s. I was just asking."
"I am nobody from nowhere. I only extend my hand. I couldn't believe it, ”he says.
"I got a lot of" no "- don't get me wrong. And a lot of people who just didn't answer. But hey, if you send seventy-five emails and get nine back, you suddenly have a world-class lineup."
Just a week after launch, The Scope of Practice Podcast had up to 1,161 downloads and was the # 1 medical career podcast nationwide and # 33 career podcast. Brent's email list has grown 15 percent over the same period, and people are already asking him to coach them on how to start their own podcasts and create their own websites.
Build your own brand with a little outside help
Brent hasn't tried to monetize his business yet, but has focused on building his blog audience and getting his podcast on track. He is more interested in "gaining some level of credibility, building some trust with people first and finding out what people actually want before I just try to accidentally sell things".
But even if The Scope of Practice starts to generate income, Brent is pretty sure that he wants to keep it as a side job. "I don't see this as something that replaces my primary income, mainly because I don't want to give up being a doctor. I can't imagine – even if I've built this thing into something very big – not being able to take care of patients. I love it too much. "
Instead, he likes to use his platform to reach as many people as possible who need help and at least to break even – "So it's not just a super expensive hobby."
He has never hired anyone to help with the business except a web designer – and he has to thank Pat's BYOB course for that.
BYOB gave Brent something really valuable: “A framework for getting started. Because it just seemed like a gigantic task. “Every question he came up with brought up three more, and BYOB helped him retire from the rabbit hole. The course offered "step-by-step instructions on how to take an idea from scratch and make something of it".
BYOB also prepared Brent on how much work would be required to create a well-designed, functional website. After briefly trying to put one together, he decided that his limited time should be better spent doing what he was best at: "creating and writing content and speaking and things like that." Instead, he hired someone to do it Designing the website for him, which was "super helpful" and a great weight off his shoulders.
So far, this web designer is the only person Brent has hired to help with The Scope of Practice. Once his podcast brings in some sponsorships, he might consider hiring a virtual assistant who can do administrative tasks to give him more time to write, but his business is a one-man show right now.
He has started building affiliate marketing relationships that he will build on "once the podcast gets a little rolling." But he has a budget that is so small that he can wait a while before making money and focuses on building trust and credibility with his audience first.
When it comes to the brand itself, Brent says from the start that he “wanted to build a brand that was bigger than just me”. For this reason, his company is called The Scope of Practice and not BrentLacey.com. Having a brand that is not personally tied to it means that it "can better accommodate other people or other ways to reach people".
At the same time, the whole experience “opened some cool doors. I met a lot of different people. And I was invited to speak at some conferences. "
Brent says he could imagine it once or twice a year and really enjoy it.
"The truth is there is always a need"
How has the COVID situation affected Brent and his business, apart from having more time to host podcast guests and to record his episodes before the start? For one thing, it showed him "that the world will go online more and more, so an online presence, an online brand, or podcasting via radio waves is becoming increasingly important."
He believes that we will see the “ripple effects” of digitizing things in a number of industries, including healthcare, hospitality, and education.
Ultimately, he says, "It only confirmed my determination to drive the company forward."
The pentemic has also improved the level of personal financial management among its target group in Brent's eyes. “This particular crisis has exposed some weaknesses in individual financial plans. This happens every time there is a crisis, even if it is a minor one. But the truth is, it continues, even if there is no crisis. "
“I think it brought more people out of the woodwork to realize that they just need some help. But the truth is there is always a need. "
Purpose, preparation, execution
The biggest challenge he has faced on his path is to “see the amount of work it takes to get it going. There is a very high activation energy. "
Even though he says that he was "pretty well prepared just by listening to podcasts and reading what people said", he was still amazed at what was needed to get his business going.
At the same time, his desire to serve drives him on. “I feel huge – I don't know if load is the right word – but I feel the urgency to help people. I only see a lot of need. Every time someone extends their hand and says, "Hey, listen, I need some help," that's what drives me. "
Having his wife's support was also extremely valuable. “I don't think I could do that if I didn't have good family support at home. She has always been my greatest cheerleader. "
Although Brent has been on his entrepreneurial journey for less than a year, he did it three great insights that he believes others can learn from:
# 1: Have a why
“Don't just say“ I want to be an entrepreneur. ”You have to have a problem you want to solve, someone you want to help, or a group of people you want to serve. You have to have something that you want. Not just "I want to have a small business" or "I like the idea of passive income." It sounds decent. "You need a purpose."
# 2: Prepare
"I listened to a number of podcasts from different people, including Pat & # 39; s. I read a lot of tutorials. I read a lot of blogs. I learned a lot about the medium I immersed myself in."
# 3: Execute
"So many times I've seen and heard people say in podcast episodes that people just spend all their time preparing and preparing and preparing and never really doing anything. I think of General Patton's quote that says, "A good plan that is now being violently executed is better than a perfect plan next week."
Brent Lacey is a gastroenterologist who also runs The Scope of Practice, an online business that serves physicians in practice management and financial mastery. He grew up in the Dallas, Texas area, attended college at Texas A&M University and then medical school in San Antonio, where he met his wife. His larger family still lives in the Dallas area, and his wife's family is from Austin.
Brent is also a keen miniature golfer who, along with about ninety other courses, has played the US ProMiniGolf Association master's course in Myrtle Beach, SC. His real dream is to own a mini golf course one day.