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Getting Unstuck

We have all heard the retort:  “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”.  A new year, a new challenge or even an old one we’ve put off until now.  At one time or another we have all found ourselves struggling.  If not just to get started, it’s figuring out why we’re stuck.  To answer this question I would like to take five of Michael E. Gerber’s ideas from “The E-Myth Revisited” and add a little “dentalizing” to it.

1. All of us have multiple personalities. We all have an inner entrepreneur, manager, and technician.  The entrepreneur is the visionary, the manager is the organizer and the technician is the one who goes out and does the work.  If those personalities were balanced, we would be efficient, but they’re not.  For most of us, it’s about a 10-20-70 split, with a heavy emphasis on doing the work.  This can be the death nail to a dental practice.  We find most doctors want to “just do the dentistry”.  They don’t want to be the leader or spend time managing or organizing systems.  They procrastinate, fail to get help, and are surprised that they struggle in the “business” of dentistry.   These practices have high staff turnover (average stay of about 2 years), high overhead (>55%), few new patients (less than 40-50/month), and a constant, nagging, overall feeling of overwhelm with the practice and the economy.  You can hire a mentor or coach to help create the balance that every great practice has, and every practice needs.

2. Your business can be as big as you want it to be.  Only you, as the owner of your practice, can limit its growth and its size.  Most owners do that by shrinking away from the unknown.  The key is to step outside of your comfort zone and stay there.  Over the 30+ years of my practice, the one constant has been change.  Change can be challenging and can create fear of the unknown.  The truth is you can’t hide from it. Anything short of embracing it will doom your practice to a slow death spiral.  Becoming proactive, seeking continued and never ending improvement insures your success and creates an incredible feeling of empowerment.

3. Have an entrepreneurial perspective.  How will your practice work?  How will it produce results that lead to profits?  What is its future?  How can you get there?  If you view your practice as a job (something you just have to show up and do), rather than as a business, it will never be anything other than a burden.

4. Plan every aspect of your business.  The key to building your business and ultimately selling it for a healthy profit is to plan every last detail for the future.  What are your business goals?  Who are your potential customers?  How can you better benchmark information and systems?  Without a plan, you have no business.  You have a burden that will never give you what you always thought it would.

5. Work on your business not in it.  Your practice is not your life, nor should it be.  Owners of any small consumer driven business have to put in the long hours and immerse themselves in every aspect of it.  But after a few years, you need to step back and become less of a technician and more of a manager and entrepreneur.  Make your business tick rather than doing the ticking yourself.  It is like the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat.  One tells you what the temperature is, the other controls the environment.  You need to become that thermostat.


Note: If you haven’t read Gerber’s original book The E-Myth and its sequel, The E-Myth Revisited, we highly recommend you acquire them ASAP.