A wise man once said: “The path to greater awareness and growth comes from first acknowledging the truth about your situation.”
As dentists, acknowledging the truth about our practice, lifestyle, and financial independence is essential to achieve our aspirations and overcome the challenges we face in the ever-evolving dental industry.
That said…in thinking about the reality of your truth, how would you rank yourself in these three areas of your life? Let’s dive in…
Using a 1-10 scale (1 – not so good and 10 – the top 1% in the industry), think about each of the below and assign your rank for each:
- Practice Independence (1-10): Your ability to hire and empower great team members to take real ownership of their jobs. Striving, as the author Jim Collins once said, to get people in the “right seat on the bus”. Or as I like to say, to stop trying to make your people fit your job but instead, make your job fit your people. Having those team members incorporate excellent business practices and systems while influencing them to get stuff done on your behalf versus constantly having to micromanage them to get stuff done. Ultimately having a practice that runs more off the efforts of others, than yourself.
- Lifestyle Independence (1-10): Freedom to be away from the office, without the office having to be closed. Freedom from thinking or worrying about the office while you’re away. Taking off the time you want to take off, relaxing on a beach somewhere or maybe being free to work on your next big project.
- Financial Independence (1-10): You’ve maximized the profitability of your practice and reached a level where you consistently have more money coming into your personal income than expenses. Money for vacations, your kids’ education and other wants are not going to put you in a tight bind. You’ve diversified your portfolio to include strategic investments in the stock market, real estate and/or additional practices/businesses. You’ve established your practice as not just one large asset to sell, hoping the money earned last you the rest of your days but instead have solidified it as something that you can hang onto while not being the primary owner, allowing you to continue to draw passive income from it for the rest of your days.
What’s Your Score? When it comes to your practice situation and the different levels of independence you can achieve, is the Sun rising on your practice or does it feel like it’s starting to set? If you feel like it’s starting to set, you’re probably not alone.
Many have felt the growing challenges that the continued rise of the Dental Service Organizations (DSO) has brought. A recent study by the Everything DSO group reported that 18-20% of the dental practices across the United States are part of a DSO or DSO-affiliated group. By 2025 they estimate that number will rise where DSOs will make up 50-65% of the dental practice marketplace. Before the COVID-19 nationwide shutdown, there was a growing trend of patients leaving the US to go to Mexico, Costa Rica and India where they could get their dental care performed at a 60-70% price reduction.
In a post COVID-19 world, we’ve all experienced the inflation effect that resulted in escalating costs for labor, supplies, equipment and more for their practices while many who were shackled to in network insurance contracts realized all too quickly that an inability to raise your prices in the face of these rising expenses was not a sustainable business model for growth and profitability.
Despite these challenges that have left many dentists uncertain about their practice futures, the good news is that it’s not too late to turn things around. The Sun can still rise on your practice, lifestyle, and financial independence. But the real question is how?
Since 2001, Sunrise Dental Solutions founder, Dr. Tony Feck and I have worked with hundreds of dental offices in both situations. Those where the sun is rising and who have achieved initial success with their practices but want to take their practices to a whole new level as well as with those who’ve been struggling to turn things around. All of whom are now considered in that Top 1% category of profitability and independence. So, whether our clients were solo practitioners, housed multiple doctors in one facility or were multiple practice owners, a clear pattern is present and easily identifiable that differentiates this best of the best from the remaining 99% of dentists and dental practices out there today:
- They Share the Same 3 Qualities
- They Have the Right Mindset
- Understand That Doing It Yourself Only Gets You So Far
- Know Their Current Rank Is Not the End, It’s Just the Starting Point
They Share the Same 3 Qualities: Whether they realize it or not, the most successful dental entrepreneurs seem to be driven by these three traits.
- They have a Big Dream. From building multiple offices to just building up and maximizing their one office, the dream is the same. Do something greater than what they were able to achieve at that point. Big Dreams are critical to your success as they will give you the motivation to press forward despite any obstacles that get in your way. They drive you to find new capabilities when they find their current ones can’t carry them any farther. No dream is too big or unachievable for those at this level.
- They are Open to Change. Too often entrepreneurs get stuck in the way things have always been done. Often appearing to rigid and fixed to adapt to a constantly changing and ever evolving customer marketplace. The most successful ones are the opposite. They see change as inevitable. Not something to fight or resist but to keep themselves and their practices adaptable instead.
- Stive For Community. While they are focused on their own situation, constantly working to stand out from the pack in their area, they still have a desire to be a part of a community of other like-minded Dentists. Those putting in the efforts to match their big dream that matches their own. Once that dream has be realized, they look to contribute to that community to share their wisdom and experience to help those who are earlier on in their journey.
They Have the Right Mindset: When it comes to how they go about achieving their Big Dream, the successful dental entrepreneur knows that it’s not about being “busy”. Being busy doesn’t always lead to productivity or profitability. It is a byproduct of a reactive mindset. Always waiting till the next challenge or fire pops up before attempting to make a better solution or improve that system. Busy then comes from the culmination of too many times a situation or system was ignored until finally it all comes to a head at the same time. All of which that seem to be a high priority and that require your focus and attention.
Instead of a reactive mindset, the best of the best understand that they need to have a proactive mindset instead. Strategically blocking time off and protecting that time to think about their practice as the business that it is. Working with their practice coach to constantly check and improve their current systems, checking specific key metrics and creating action plans to improve them. All while limiting or eliminating true expenses and maximizing investments. Investing this time with their team in training and to influence them to do more on behalf of the practice. Ultimately trying to prevent problems or situations before they can occur.
Understand That Doing It Yourself, Only Gets You So Far:
Entrepreneurs tend to have a Do-It-Yourself mindset. In the early days of their career, this tends to serve them well and keeps them from being drawn into the same old way of doing things that the masses tend to get stuck in. As a result, this sets them apart from the pack in numerous ways.
The consequence from these efforts is that they must break a lot of eggs to make their omelet. Oftentimes, these broken eggs translate into costly mistakes that are made along the way. I know this to be true from my own practice life as well as those that I’ve worked with. Regardless of these mistakes made, the end has always seemed to justify the means and provided many great lessons that are learned along the way. But regardless of how far the Do-It-Yourself drive takes you, all entrepreneurs eventually hit a ceiling that they can’t break through or find an obstacle that they can’t seem to get around.
It’s at this time that the Top 1% realize they can’t do it alone anymore, so they seek out those with greater wisdom to guide them. This result is not an isolated event in the business world, but you find it in other areas as well. Look at professional sports. What professional athlete can you name who is at the top of their game yet didn’t rely on a coach to help them breakthrough to reach this level of success? Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi. All legends in their field and all learned earlier on in their career that they can reach their Big Dream by leveraging the experience and wisdom of someone else.
Know Their Current Rank Is Not the End, It’s Just the Starting Point: Let’s go back to how you ranked your current Practice, Lifestyle and Financial Independence. The truth is that whatever your current situation finds you, there is still more game to be played. Still time to define your Big Dream, to become more proactive with your mindset and seek out the wisdom of a Practice Coach or others who have achieved the dream you’re striving towards.
If you ranked yourself from 5-9 then you’ve achieved some initial level of success. But even though the Sun is rising for you, you don’t have to be done. There is no limit to how high it can go. Everyone has an opportunity to do more if that’s what you want to do. The Top 1% know this. For them, once an achievement is reached, a dream realized, then it’s time to make another one. To continue forward on the path. To reach that level 10.
For others, reaching that goal of practice, lifestyle and financial independence is the dream that feels so far away. If you ranked yourself 5 or less in any of these categories, the good news for you is that the sun IS NOT setting on your situation. It’s only started to rise – but it’s going to take some effort on your part to make it continue to rise.
So, redefine your dream if you need to, make yourself and your practice adaptable. Find a community of others striving to do the same. Change your mindset and seek out help from someone who’s been there/done that. A Practice Coach who can look at your situation from a different perspective. Who sees the eggs you’re trying to break but can help you avoid the act and the costly mistakes this brings altogether. A Practice Coach who can help you achieve that dream sooner than you could realize it on your own.
Hear what other dentist-owners are saying about their coaching experience with Sunrise Dental Solutions in this quick video…