In 2008, and again in 2009, I became a business owner.
It’s safe to say at that stage I knew nothing whatsoever
about running a business.
No one had ever taught me about business principles, I
had never attended any (or at least many) courses and I
had never been exposed to the principles of running a
small business. From then until now I have immersed
myself in a huge array of materials to try to better
educate and instruct myself in the way of running a
business. From that time and from a zero-starting point,
I have owned and operated three separate businesses,
selling one and developing 2 others. I have taken the
turnover of the business that I entered in 2008 from
£250,000 to £2.5 million, and I’ve set up two separate
independent businesses also with significant turnovers.
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In 2008, and again in 2009, I became a business owner.
It’s safe to say at that stage I knew nothing whatsoever about running a business.
No one had ever taught me about business principles, I had never attended any (or at least many) courses and I had never been exposed to the principles of running a small business. From then until now I have immersed myself in a huge array of materials to try to better educate and instruct myself in the way of running a business. From that time and from a zero-starting point, I have owned and operated three separate businesses, selling one and developing 2 others.
I have taken the turnover of the business that I entered in 2008 from £250,000 to £2.5 million, and I’ve set up two separate independent businesses also with significant turnovers.
But, go backwards to 2011 in the midst of the stages of trying to run businesses and knowing I knew nothing about them, and then instructing (and paying handsomely) for the skills and expertise of Chris Barrow.
I was in Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Nottingham having lunch during a Chris Barrow coaching day when the restaurant went quiet and Barrow shouted at me, “you think sales is an STD”. It was time for me to get a handle on the fact that I was working in independent, private dentistry and the only way that the practice could survive and open the doors tomorrow to hit more people was to make money today. From that point onwards I started to understand the interplay between the technician personality, the manager personality and the entrepreneur personality, as defined by Michael Gerber in The E-myth, one of the books that Chris gave me the first day I met him.
The difficulty is, that when a dentist enters a business, in any sort of controlling position, he enters as a technician; that is someone who does the work and wrestles with the stress of trying to become the manager, and ultimately has to become the entrepreneur and the driver of the business overall.
When we enter into these situations, either by chance, as in my case, or by design, we don’t know what we don’t know. We learn by mistakes, by osmosis and from places like Facebook and Instagram.
The solutions to this is to read books, or even to hire a business coach, but that is to keep us in isolation, developing our own systems and reinventing the wheel time and time again when thousands of other similar wheels already exist. So the benefit of learning together, and sharing experiences and being held accountable in our business development is priceless; that is what has been seen in the Business Course provided by The Campbell Academy since it’s inception.
I believe the first thing you need to investigate when building a dental business plan is to ask why you have it in the first place.
The answer to the question doesn’t matter, but you must have an answer to the question or you will become confused and your business will never have a true focus.
If you are there to make money, and to make as much money as possible then that is fine, but your strategy and your tactics should persist in that direction and everyone should be aware of that. If you have another reason to be there, to help people or to design a business that you’re proud of which will have longevity and success beyond just the work that you carry out, then that is a different thing too; but again, takes a different format to build.
The understanding of the why of your business and what it is for is fundamental as a foundation and a rock to build your business upon going forwards. You can’t examine any other aspects of your business without first examining this.
All of us who are dentists could get a job for someone else, so why do we work for ourselves?
This is a much more difficult task than you might think, but it is one that is helped by asking friends and colleagues and through the shared experiences of these people.
After that conversation with Chris Barrow in Jamie’s Italian, I invented something called Prethics.
It’s pretty simple, it’s a linear analogue scale. You have to position yourself on the scale between the profit end and the ethics end.
Remember that to be too close to either end is probably to die, at least in healthcare, because to be only about profits is to give up on patients, but to be only about ethics is to not make any money and to suffocate.
Placing yourself on this line is fundamental and repositioning yourself on it from time to time with your team is an important aspect of understanding how to run and grow your business.
After you’ve set up what you’re there for, and explained that to yourself and your team, the next step in building your dental business plan is to get the money systems in place correctly. You have to understand your pricing, you counting and most importantly your analysis of how your business makes money and where it leaks money.
Dentistry is a fascinating study, because the payment model in dentistry is simply ridiculous, and to invent new payment models and new ways of working with your clinicians in the practice is to secure your practice going forwards.
You will never get this right, but without the systems in place to report where the finances are, and how people are performing, you will be wondering around in the dark, subsiding people who get to come to work without any value to the business and go away again as a hobby.
Over these last 10 years we have developed some extraordinary systems for counting dental practice finance and providing in depth analysis in these areas. This is shared extensively with the delegates of our Business Course who are able to take it away and embed it in their own businesses.
Remember profit is like oxygen to your business. It’s essential for life but not the meaning of life.
Once you know what you’re all about, you can tell that story to the world and once you know where your finances are in your practice you can know how much money you have to tell that story. Modern branding and marketing is completely different to just putting adverts on the back of a bus or on the radio. Building a strategy for branding and marketing in your practice is a privilege and something wonderful, but it must be separated out from ego, and it must be useful and valuable. If you don’t count it back in, you don’t know if it’s working, and if it’s not working it’s just an ego exercise.
Investigating Word of Mouth referral systems, websites, paper click, search engine optimisation, ad words, print media, radio media, television media and other avenues are essential in figuring out how you will generate new business for your practice and ultimately growth for your practice.
This is inextricably linked to what your business is there for and also to the finances that your business can achieve, which is why those previous points come before this.
It is useful to where possible speak with experts from across the dental marketing field to show you the possible opportunities so you can adapt them to your own marketing plan. This is a powerful thing indeed, as it allows you to delegate much of the work to people within your business for you to then check up on monthly or a three-monthly basis. This is the entrepreneur side of the technician, manager and entrepreneur triangle.
Any chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and you’re only as good as the weakest person within your business. Generally, dentists who run dental practices hate human resources (HR). The modern science of human resources is fascinating and strategic performance management is the bedrock for how to run teams. All teams will always have HR issues, that is because they look after human beings, but to deal with these and to develop them in a strategic framework (even in the smallest of organisations) is to take much of the stress and the pressure out of day-to-day HR.
Have you ever been asked for a pay rise at the end of a busy clinical day? Do you hate holiday forms? Have you got someone who has been on long term sick, or who is always off on a Monday? Dealing with all these problems is fundamental to a business, and to have a strategic plan for human recourses takes a lot of the stress out of this and moves you to a much better place with a well-greased fully oiled team, working in the right direction to do what you want the business to do.
The Campbell Clinic has been able to institute some extraordinary HR benefits and policies for the team which is shared with delegates throughout our Business Course. Following this part of the course you will have a detailed strategic plan for your human resources in the practice to take back to your practice for the next three years.
It’s essential to count in your practice, and to count extensively, but to count every single day is to distract you from the work of actually getting things done.
To weigh the baby constantly and not feed the baby is to have a baby that doesn’t grow.
Even in times of difficulty when it seems essential to obsessively count the numbers to see what direction the practice is going, what it most important is to have systems in place to do this which allows you to get the work done.
Non financial monitoring is an enormous part of your business, to make sure your clinical work is right, your staff are ok and everything is running properly.
Once you have put together all these aspects above you can put together your master plan. This is your strategic dental business plan for the next three years which encompasses what your business is there for and the direction in which it is travelling. It picks out two or three high level objectives to set your sales towards, and shows you how to count them, market them, finance them, make sure you have a team to deliver them and make sure you have a structure in place in your practice to achieve what you would like to achieve.
To produce a strategic plan means you have a product that you can take into your practice to build it for the next three years.
It’s certainly not for everyone to attend a year-long business course to develop their dental business. Our course is designed for principles to attend with another member of their team. Sometimes their partner, sometimes their husband or wife and sometimes their practice manager. The point is to be able to delegate some of the running of the business to someone else to allow the principle to provide the clinical work within the practice. Most people have returned the cost of the course by the end of the second module, although people outside the course find that hard to believe. Your business is like a bathtub, and usually on doing the first two modules you identify massive holes where the bath is leaking and simply patching those holes saves the cost of the course alone.
It’s the opportunity to join a tribe of people who think the same as you. People who want to provide ethical business solutions but with successful business frameworks.
Clearly, this is a high aim and the work required is extensive. The projects are intense and require to be completed on time. The modules crammed full of information and the time out of the practice can be challenging.
If you want to take your business to a different level and want to learn from some of the best dental business speakers around, then please contact us and have a chat.
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