As we close the book on 2019 and move into a new decade, it is an interesting time to consider the evolving landscape for dentistry. The constant “yin and yang” between the profession versus the business of dentistry will continue to pose one of the greatest challenges for many.
Many dentists feel they have no option but to sell to a corporate entity to “alleviate the headaches of the business side and, instead, focus on the dentistry they love to do”. This can be a viable option for some and I have recommended it to some dentists.
However, it is not the only option. Thriving in private practice is extremely doable, even in this climate of consolidation. The first step to achieving this is often a change of mindset.
Some dentists see themselves at a disadvantage compared to small business owners in other sectors. After all, dental schools focus far more attention on the science of oral health care than they do the skills needed to operate a successful private practice. Sadly, many CE events continue this trend with a premium being placed on courses that emphasize clinical over business skills.
“I am just a dentist! What do I know about operating a business?” is a common refrain I hear from many that I work with.
The first thing to realize is that you are not alone. Many small business owners, regardless of industry, are in the same boat. They often have a particular skill that they build a small business around. But they often start out with little knowledge about essential business topics like HR, marketing, administration or accounting.
Just like most dentists, these other small business owners do have a passion for their business. Their business is “their baby” and they feel they need to oversee every detail of its operation down to the smallest of details.
You may have heard another term for this tendency…it is called “micro-managing”. And it is difficult to operate and grow a successful business, regardless of what sector you work in, if you are a micro-manager. You will be constantly stressed. You will be constantly stressing your team. This will lead to high rates of employee turnover…meaning you have to spend more time dealing with HR issues…increasing your level of stress…and the beat goes on!
So here is the first step to achieving your vision for 2020…abandon the belief that dentists are less qualified to operate a small business than anyone else!
You are just as qualified…but like all small business people, you need help. You need coaching to get you onto the path of success…to help you understand how to trust and train a top notch team and only involve yourself on matters that truly require the attention of a business owner.
This is a very difficult lesson for any small business owner. That is why a coach who can hold you accountable can be so important. Just to help give some perspective on this, I recently listened to a podcast between two individuals recognized by Dentistry Today Magazine as leaders in dental CE…and they talked about the importance of working with their own business coaches.
If two individuals of their caliber have their own business coaches, it must be a good idea for dentists.
For some, this added time commitment is more than they are willing to invest. If that is the case, being an associate for someone else (corporate or another private practice) may be the perfect solution.
But others are not happy working for a third party. They enjoy the complete autonomy to provide a patient care experience that matters to them. They want the profits they generate to finance their retirement dreams rather than those of another dentist or a faceless “private equity” investor.
If that includes you but you struggle at balancing the business and the profession, remember…you are not alone. The dream may need some help but it is alive and well if you are willing to go for it!
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