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(I have had a lot of requests to look at individual office numbers and I am just about all caught up, so if you are thinking you want to do this, please go ahead and send your Growth Analysis Spreadsheet and information so that you don’t lose out on implementing these new strategies. The details are in the “PS” at the end of today’s post.)

Last week I asked you to consider that thinking like a dentist (bad) was assuming that your life’s destination was a successful solo dental practice. The logic was that there are no successful solo dental practices because to remain solo, you would have to fall short of continued growth and successfully inspiring the people you treat. Success means continued improvement and unlimited growth. Growth would, with time, force you to add additional staff and doctors. Doing things right in the business of dentistry makes it impossible to end your career as great solo dental practice. Changing your perception of what you deserve and chasing that goal drastically changes the outcome of your daily effort.

In Part II of “stop thinking like a dentist” I want to discuss the mindset towards money and the accumulation of things for the average doctor that “thinks like a dentist”. It is common practice to see doctors move toward a distorted consumer pattern of constantly increasing debt to fulfill their need for entitlement. They justify this by thinking back to the sacrifice they made to go to dental school and the years of practice and work to arrive at: “I deserve the nice things in life”, which means you will end up spending just a little more than you make. This is only compounded by the spouses who, like a cheerleader, urge us on to an unrealistic vision of the future and mistaken idea of what success looks like.

We are raising generations infected with entitlement: Older dentists want and expect to see dentistry the way it was, while young dentists want it the way they thought it would be. All the while, corporations are reaping dental profits at the expense of the independent dentist because we are ill prepared to compete in this new dental environment of total climate change we find ourselves in where most have checked out and there are fewer and fewer dentists taking on ownership. One of the growth limiting barriers to a great dental practice is debt and financial captivity. Central to that situation is running your business with an entitlement mentality. I love the signs at Gold’s Gym: “Pick up your own weights, your mom doesn’t work here”.

When working with a dentist to help guide him or her on the road to the next level of practice, I always ask: How much is enough and how long do you plan to practice? Surprisingly few doctors have ever thought about or actually set those numbers as goals and benchmarks. Understanding how much is enough and the term or time you are willing to dedicate to make this happen is key to living out a sound financial future for your practice. Knowing these two numbers makes almost every other decision basically black and white. The answer either brings you closer to your goal or holds you back. Below you will find an excerpt from the excellent book, Your Money or Your Life.

In this graph you can see the apex of the curve indicates the “how much is enough” by going from survival, to comforts, and finally some luxuries. Knowing this point is key in staging a significant life. At this point you will have found your purpose, how to be responsible, an internal yardstick that guides every decision you make, and financial independence. Financial independence means a level of peace of mind. You are out of debt and you have sufficient savings. You have skills, community, and sufficient income to make choices. I want to finish with a quote from Seth Godin called:


“In an instant-on, one-click shopping universe, the idea of sacrifice is pretty alien. When the world might end tomorrow, when you can get what you want now, when debt is easier than ever to go into, why even consider sacrifice?

Because it’s the single best way to achieve your goals. Satisfaction now almost always decreases the reserves we have to build an asset for later. Investing in something worth building always requires you to avoid getting what you want today. Sacrifice might mean giving up an expenditure, but it can also be the bold step of having a difficult conversation now instead of later. Regardless of the goal, sacrifices make it more likely that you’ll get there.

The journey toward that worthy goal, though, is a key part of the goal itself. We are never certain we’ll reach our goal, one significant reason that so few people persist. But if the journey involves sacrifice, we’re paying for that goal, the goal we’re never sure to reach, every day. Hence delight. The act of sacrifice, of foregoing one thing in our journey toward another one, one more generous, virtuous and useful, is actually a little piece of the satisfaction of the goal itself. If it comes easy, it’s not the same.”   Seth Godin

This is how you Summit.

Michael Abernathy, DDS
[email protected]
972.523.4660 cell

PS. For those of you that missed last week’s post, here is another opportunity to click HERE to download a Growth Analysis Spreadsheet (Excel). It has three pages. So when you do this, just open it and fill in all of page one, then click the tab at the bottom of the page and fill in all of page two. Once the first two pages are filled in, you are done. The third page is populated with the information and summaries you supplied on the first two pages. Be sure to save it and just email it back to me. Keep in mind that we want the numbers from the last 12 months. In addition, I would also like to see a year-to-date Profit and Loss Statement and a copy of one week’s schedule. Once I get these we can get on the phone and analyze any blockages, how to fix them, and allow me to hear where you want your practice to go. It will take at least an hour to do this. The result will be that you will have an entirely new perspective and depth of knowledge for your practice and a game plan to move through a solo practice to a more secure future. Don’t wait! I look forward to speaking with you.