They say that when one door closes, another one opens. Meet the fabulous Dr. Suzette Blahnik, the girl next door who opened hers and never looked back. What does the girl next door pack for her journey to become a kick-ass entrepreneur? Not makeup. Not fancy clothes. Not designer shoes. Not the typical things you would find in a bag owned by a female. Instead, it’s a bag filled with “enthusiastic, energetic, dedicated, creative and inspiring thoughts.” Because, that’s what little girls are made of these days.
WLE: As an entrepreneur, differentiating yourself from the competition is key. What have you done to differentiate yourself?
Dr. B: Believing in yourself is the first step to becoming an entrepreneur. The best way to differentiate one’s self is rather simplistic. Be yourself. No one can copy that. When your competition tries it’s a personal party of compliments. Being down-to-earth and real is how I prefer to run our practice. I once had a patient tell me about a conversation he had with his previous eye doc. It went like this: “Can I ask you a question about yourself doc?” Eye doc replied: “Absolutely not!” My preference is for my patients to know who I am.
I am a passionate hippie chick eye doctor that will be there for your eye care needs even on a Saturday at 8pm, happy to contribute to just about every local schools sport team, buy coffee from the local shop, take the time to get to know you, and most importantly make sure your face is perfectly framed. The goal to make every patient part of our eye care family.
WLE: Somebody once told me that being an entrepreneur is like getting punched in the face daily. Would love to hear your comments about this statement.
Dr. B: I suppose some may see being an entrepreneur as a daily punch in the face. It definitely isn’t for sissies. I see it more as dodging punches. Sure we all get that face bump once in awhile but if that was everyday no way we could stay standing. Dodging and jumping out of the way not only keeps you fit but challenges the mind to think about every spin, block and victory. It’s all about attitude and finding some positive energy in the everyday match. Once you can do that, the punches come less and next thing you know there are days without a single blow! Nothing more exciting than being the one still standing strong in the ring.
WLE: Give me 3 words that describe yourself as an entrepreneur. Can you elaborate on them a little?
. . . being one of a kind, standing out in the crowd. I want to be that girl wearing the bright flowered crown dancing in the rain with my bright green glasses on. Being different can be scary but in business it is crucial.
. . . willing to adapt and change at any given second. Having your cape on hand to turn into #superwoman in a moment’s notice with the ability to have exceptional strength and willingness to successfully conquer any task thrown your way.
. . . the excitement that exists when an idea becomes a reality. Thinking of new ideas and envisioning ways to make our practice exciting, fun and futuristic. Doing what others think is unrealistic is like sprinkle on an entrepreneur cupcake.
WLE: In today's word of decreased reimbursements and rising operating costs - care to share any ideas on how you make up that financial gap?
Dr. B: In today’s world of decreased reimbursements and rising operating cost, making up the financial gap is a super challenge. Our practice model is focused on the key principles of building a unique experience and fostering loyal patients. Creating an experience the patient will remember and talk about. This includes having the same energetic and friendly employees, offering a cup of coffee, bringing out a real treasure box to reward a little one, offering emergency services, delivering contacts to someone’s workplace, sharing a laugh or just remembering something important about a patient.
I’ll give you a little example. We girls are famous for enjoying getting our hair done. How do we choose our salons? Well of course we need the hair dresser that makes our hair beautiful but also the one who makes us feel beautiful. We choose a salon where secrets and coffee can be shared and advice often given. Eventually for most gals our hair stylist becomes our friend. When patients feel this comfort they talk about you, they buy those second pairs and they remain…loyal. Loyal enough to pay out of pocket when the insurance changes, loyal enough to bring their closest family and friends, loyal enough to grow up and old with you.
WLE: If you had $5,000 to spend on your business, how would you spend it and why?
Dr. B: If I had an extra $5000 to spend on our business I would love to buy a new autorefractor. A shiny one that can scope an eye faster than a two year old can sit still. Those gadgets are not really a necessity but a luxury. We waver on and off about buying a new one but there are always things more fun to put the money towards - The local high school football team needed pregame meals donated, the staff deserved awesome holiday gifts and a party, some patients going through hard times needed help buying glasses. You get the point.
You can find Dr. Suzette Blahnik at Blahnik Eye Care, 3740 S. Ridgewood Ave #103, Port Orange, FL 32129.
For more Kick-Ass Female Entrepreneurs, check back next month for our ongoing series.
Tanya N. Gill, O.D., is the owner of Oakland Vision Center Optometry in Oakland, CA. Dr. Gill is obsessed with ocular surface disease, kick-ass female entrepreneurship, never saying never, eating vegetables daily, and brightly colored sneaker pumps. She lives in Oakland with her husband and is the founder of We Love Eyes, a company that makes natural cleansing products for the eyes.