When I started out, entrepreneurial tendencies were frowned upon. Being a dental entrepreneur or dental-preneur as I used to refer to it in my articles, was considered dodgy, or a sign of carelessness towards patients.

Instead of running from this label, I fully embraced it;  and I remember standing tall and responding to the negativity.

I’d say, “Absolutely, I am an entrepreneur and that’s a good thing because an entrepreneur creates value, they’re adaptable, they’re nimble.”

I’ve learnt many lessons on my entrepreneurial dental journey, and I’m still learning.

But most of my lessons were a result of pure instinct and trial and error. I didn’t have the lessons of others to follow.

I had an in-depth conversation on a recent podcast with practice ownership consultant Dr Nauvneel Kashyap. We combined our experiences and knowledge of starting practices and moving from operator to owner, and came up with some hot key lessons to share with you.

I’ve put these lessons into a two-part series: Part 1 which I am sharing here this week exposes 7 Key entrepreneurial lessons for dental practice owners…

Entrepreneurial Lesson #1:

Always remember the bigger picture!

Some practice owners don’t have the courage to close their client books; or to reduce their days to focus on the business of the practice; or have some down time; as a result, they find themselves staying on the tools for too long, just because they’re earning good money and they’re in control.

Don’t be a victim of your own success. You need to step back before you reach burnout. There needs to be a transition point where ultimately you have to take your foot off first base and make the dash to second base.

Have a clear picture of what success looks like for you from the beginning. Then understand the activities you need to do to get there: Start with that process firmly in mind.

Be mindful of any limiting believes which can stall your vision such as ‘I’m not a business owner’ or ‘I’m not someone who cares about the business side of dentistry’.

Always remember the bigger picture, but there’s no sense in having the end goal in mind if your day-to-day actions don’t support that.

Entrepreneurial Lesson #2:

It’s OK to make mistakes. Get back up and move on!

Sometimes we make mistakes, and we fail to meet expectations but that’s life.

Sometimes there is no lesson to learn… We don’t always have to look for a lesson, but we do have to know how to accept and manage failure.

One of the things that someone taught me years ago is that we’ve got a windscreen and we’ve got a rear-view mirror.

And when it comes to mistakes, keep it proportionate… Move on from it!

Identify and manage the risk, the probability and the cost of that risk and consider… ‘What are the mitigating things I can put in place to try and tip the odds in my favour or to reduce the cost of the worst-case scenario or to enhance my degree of control of that situation?’

Entrepreneurial Lesson #3:

Manage your energy!

Entrepreneurs know how to manage their energy and don’t just focus on managing time.

Whilst it’s important to ensure your appointment book is well structured, remember that running a business requires effort and energy; managing these finite personal resources is critical.

Listen to your body. Assess your biorhythm and note down at what points of the day you are most productive so that you can do the important tasks during these times.

Remember that energy is a finite resource so use it wisely.

Furthermore, you must understand that not everything that’s urgent is important.

Entrepreneurial Lesson #4:

Look after yourself!

Part of the responsibility of building a business is to make sure we look after ourselves so that we can be at our best.

Ultimately, when we commit to an enterprise, we commit to others. We commit to providing healthcare to our patients and employment and associated opportunities for our team.

The responsibility is a heavy one, so aim to block off time so you can look after yourself.

Find the thing that helps you cope with pressure and be your best.

Entrepreneurial Lesson #5:

Be curious. Be open to trying new things!

Most people deal with evolution rather than revolution and it’s often the case of incremental change after incremental change.

Be curious and question the accepted norms.

Entrepreneurs don’t necessarily believe that the status quo has to remain thus. Try something new, explore new trends, look for new opportunities.

Entrepreneurial Lesson #6:

Get comfortable with delegating!

Entrepreneurs need delegation to be second nature.

You need to be comfortable that something may not get done as well as you can do it yourself.

You can put measures in place to help others deliver to your standard and expectations, such as training team members, putting systems in place, implementing processes and policies will support others to deliver results in the way you want them delivered.

Not enough time equals not enough team, therefore understand what things add value to the business that are uniquely within your skill-set, and for those other tasks either look to delegate them, automate them, or eliminate them all together.

Periodically, I like to write up a list of the tasks I would like to do more of, the tasks I would like to do less of, and the tasks I would like to stop doing altogether.

This makes a perfect list of what needs to be delegated and what tasks can stay with me!

Entrepreneurial Lesson #7:

Good habits are good for us!

We often consider habits to be negative, but some good habits are fundamental to our success.

Dr Nauv describes one of his best habits as trying to do the very best he can in every task he does, and he also likes to only take on tasks where he knows he has the skills to succeed.

One of my good habits is having structure and routine in my life. I find it grounding and comforting. My habits include putting routine into my day which may be a shower, followed by a coffee, followed by ten minutes of thinking time and mentally preparing for my day ahead.

And after I take my girls to school I may listen to a podcast or audio book in the car… this positive routine gets my day off on a good foot.

For Entrepreneurial Lessons #8 to #13…

Return to my blog next week for the next six lessons for dental entrepreneurs.

And remember to listen to part 1 of the two-part podcast on the subject of entrepreneurial lessons with Dr Nauv Kashyap.