Growing up with stereotypical Asian tiger parents, Angie had always been interested in entrepreneurship but was constantly discouraged.
Angie Kim is the physician and CEO of Glow Up MD Medical Aesthetics and Wellness Practice. Her journey to success was far from easy. Angie grew up with traditional Asian immigrant parents who believed that taking risks in business was foolish.
She did all the stereotypical Asian things such as playing piano, being good at math, and going to a good college. She studied engineering and went on to complete medical school. And like most Asian women are expected to be, Angie was very quiet and had low self confidence.
But after completing her medical training, Angie realized that working for someone else was not what she wanted for her life. She refused to work for people without medical education and decided to take a chance on herself.
Starting her own business was an intimidating prospect for her. She had no background in business and had to navigate legal regulations, insurance requirements, and financial planning on her own. But with determination and persistence, she and her husband were able to set up a successful brick and mortar practice within just a few months.
Angie’s journey serves as a reminder that there is never a perfect time to start a business and that sometimes the best way to learn is by doing.
I DID IT ANYWAY
Even in middle school and high school, starting a business always piqued Angie’s interest. She had even presented a few ideas, such as a t-shirt business, to her parents when she was in middle school. Unfortunately, her parents always shot her ideas down, telling her they were stupid.
Angie’s parents have always been extremely risk averse and were against anything that required any type of investment with uncertain return. They wouldn’t even let her spend money to create a website.
Despite the discouragement, Angie was still very interested in entrepreneurship. She would constantly read articles about people who developed new apps or websites that became very popular. However, she had to put those aspirations on the backburner and focus on her education as her parents placed a high emphasis on education.
Even still, she would come up with ideas every so often and kept a list of these on her computer, hoping to return to them one day to get them started. “One thing that’s been constant since my childhood has been that whenever they told me I wouldn’t be able to accomplish something, I did it anyway,” she said.
Initially, one of their biggest challenges was trying to figure out the laws surrounding opening a medical practice. They looked at so many sources but kept finding contradicting or incomplete information.
The actual legalese was difficult to understand and they didn’t trust their interpretation of it. They finally spoke to a lawyer who confirmed what they understood. This allowed them to feel comfortable enough to continue on.
As of right now, the biggest challenge they’re facing is marketing and getting the word out. They are still trying to figure out the best way to do this. It has been mostly through trial and error. They are constantly trying different strategies, such as Facebook ads, in-person events, local SEO, local media and print, and direct mailing.
THE TURNING POINT
While working in the hospital, Angie began noticing little things over time that pointed towards the toxicity of the working environment, such as how little control and autonomy physicians have in taking care of their own patients, the backstabbing from other healthcare workers, and how physicians from other healthcare systems all had similar stories.
“I came to the realization that this would not change if I just changed jobs. The only solution was to start my own practice,” she said.
LOOKING BACK ON HER JOURNEY
The most rewarding aspect for Angie is the freedom to practice medicine the way it should be practiced. “I can spend as much time as I need to with patients. I don’t need to spend extra time trying to fight insurance companies. And my patients have been happy with their results,” she said.
She is hoping to grow her practice enough that she can open a second location and eventually franchise it, which would allow her to help even more patients and improve the healthcare system in her own small way.
“If I were to do it all over again, I would document my journey. I thought about it this time, but I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing the whole time.”
ANGIE’S ADVICE FOR OTHERS FACING SIMILAR CHALLENGES FROM THEIR FAMILIES
“People are always going to doubt you when you start, especially those closest to you. You can’t let that get to you. If it’s what you really want and you can’t stop thinking about it, then you should go for it. It’s going to be lonely and somewhat isolating when you start, but it’ll be worth it,” Angie said.
She believes that there’s always a way to solve a problem. If you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock, you can try looking at the problem from a different perspective.
Right now, Angie still hasn’t told her parents about her business and she’s waiting for the right time when she can finally tell them.
CONNECT WITH ANGIE
Facebook: Glow Up MD Medspa