Today on the blog, we have the pleasure of speaking with Spencer Lifferth, Au.D. about his participation in the Starkey Entrepreneurial Program. Liffereth was a member of the most recent Entrepreneurial class that completed the program in August of 2013. He currently works as an Audiologist with the Audiology & Hearing Aid Center in Boise, Idaho.
Q. Tell us about your journey into the profession of audiology:
A. I had not decided yet between SLP (speech language pathology) and Audiology in my Sophomore year at Utah State. My Grandmother called me because she needed to get hearing aids. I told her to go to an audiologist and get her hearing tested. She lived in a different area and I really didn't know anybody in the field anyway. So what she did was open the phone book to "hearing aids" and then it all went downhill from there. The location she went to talked her into hearing aids. She bought hearing aids for about $1,000 more than she should have been charged, even by today's standards; they were not programmed well and she asked for her money back. After getting brushed off, the guy went out of business. So now my sweet grandma had some hearing aids that were not programmed well, she didn't like and couldn't get her money back. This upset her and our family. I felt somehow responsible, not because I told her to go to him but because I could not help. From then I decided that I would go into audiology and that in my office, wherever that may be, nobody would leave my office and say "Spencer Lifferth took advantage of our mom or dad." I would do everything possible to help people hear better and maintain a high level of integrity while doing it.
Q. What sparked your interest in the Starkey University Entrepreneurial Audiology Program?
A. Going through the Au.D. Program at the University was a great chance to learn how to master the art of audiology but once graduation comes we are ill-prepared to work for ourselves. The Entrepreneurial program through Starkey provided a bridge for the knowledge gap between being a great audiologist and being a business owner. The course proved to be exactly what a budding audiologist needed to get started. By no means is it the end of the road of learning how to run a business but they provide ongoing resources that can be available to a practice.
Q. Have you kept in touch with your fellow program members?
A. Facebook and texting and emails. I know that it sounds kind of like high school but social media, texting and emails have proven vital in staying connected with my newly formed "Spencer Lifferth Audiology Network."
Q. What initiatives have you taken on recently? How has the program helped propel you forward with your goals?
A. The Entrepreneurial program provides a unique experience to be able to bounce ideas off of some of the presidents and managers of a major hearing aid manufacturer. These people have seen pretty much all of the good and bad there is in the industry and have designed ways to help business owners avoid common mistakes and pitfalls of being a small business owner.
Recently, our office took an idea from the Entrepreneurial Audiology Program and did a "Give the Gift of Hearing" event where we gave away a pair of hearing aids for Mother's Day. It was a great way to give to the community while also getting our name and great reputation out to the community. I solicited help from the local news and radio stations and was able to get publicity and we received a great response. That is just one of many things we have implemented.
The Entrepreneurial Program gave me the confidence to take steps to buy my own practice. I know that there are many areas of practice ownership that I lack but Starkey has many business support avenues to make sure that I am successful.
Q. You were a key member of the Starkey Hearing Foundation mission to Peru last August. How important are humanitarian efforts to you as you continue in this profession?
A. In August 2013, I was able to join the Starkey Hearing Foundation in Iquitos, Peru. I don't know how "key" I was, but I did feel that I was a part of the team. The combined effort of everybody there striving towards a common goal of helping better the lives of people through hearing is a humbling experience.
I think that humanitarian efforts abroad and locally are an absolute necessity. If you are in a position to help those in need and you choose not to, you need to re-evaluate your life. Helping others is what defines us as humans. I am not saying to give away all of your money and be poor, but I am saying that, "With great power comes great responsibility." That is from Spiderman but it is still a great quote. Those with the ability have a moral obligation to help those in need. Our office recently held a fund raiser for the Starkey Hearing Foundation and raised enough money to buy a handful of hearing aids!
Q. How would you encourage others interested in private practice to move forward?
A. You must come to know what you want to do, where you want to go and where you want to be. Starkey has all the tools and resources to help you get there. But, Starkey and any other resource will not get you there entirely, one must work hard and know that there will be bumps along the way. Don't be afraid of the bumps in the road.