Every dental business owner serious about growth will be hungry for new ideas to grow and scale their practice.

I’m no exception.

One rich source of new ideas is the lessons learned and shared by ‘compatriot’ entrepreneurs – those who’ve done it tough in the trenches of business and life.

It is especially fascinating when those lessons are learned in other industries.

A recent peak into the business of mega event management with Chris Robb revealed surprising insights.

Not least of these was a handful of smart moves we dental business owners can learn from.

Here’s my take on how to do that.

#1 Harness Adversity

We’re each shaped by our experiences, some of us more so than others.

For entrepreneurs, those experiences may have included early signs of business savvy. Perhaps it even showed up as forays into business as kids.

It’s why Chris Robb’s story about his first entrepreneurial venture resonated with me.

As a Zimbabwean farmer’s son growing up during the War of Independence, life was tough.

Daily checks for landmines on the road to school were routine.

Although survival was a daily challenge, it didn’t stop Chris harnessing adversity for good.

Now responsible for coordination of mega sporting events like Cycle Asia and the Singapore Marathon, the resilience gained early still works for him.

Unbelievably, it was within the environment that he operated his own vegetable stall.

His purpose? To fund the running shoes and spikes he needed for athletics training as an aspiring runner.

Lessons learned from this initial business venture taught him the power of two questions.

“What is this trying to teach me?” and “How will this setback help me do better?”

Critical at the time of any ‘failure’, asking these questions provides essential clues for personal and business growth.

It’s said better outcomes are contingent upon asking better questions. Don’t let yourself off the hook and avoid hard questions.

As dental business owners, better questions offer the chance to harness adversity when it inevitably arises.

Over time, it also means we can draw on the resilience and strength gained to create the business we’ve envisioned.

#2 Plan Ahead

Mega events don’t happen by accident.

The result of months, even years, of detailed planning, dental business owners can learn a lot from this smart move.

Far beyond the scale applied in dental practice, mega events take planning to a new dimension.

Often involving the training of thousands of people and precision risk management, it’s easy to see how things could go wrong ‘on the day’.

What has Chris learned from this experience?

Things do go wrong.

But it’s the response that counts, and responding well means relying on the plan.

How does this apply to smart dental practice?

Be sure to have a plan for your business.

Embrace the detail. Train your team. Encourage initiative.

From the world of mega events, one lesson practice owners should take on board one hundred percent is: planning pays off.

#3 Train Up

I’ve already mentioned training, but I want to explore it further.

As we make the shift from dentist to dental business owner, there’s some letting go that occurs.

While conscious to a degree, for many of us, letting go can be a challenge.

We look for perfection.

We establish systems and processes.

And we micromanage our people.

In doing so, there’s great potential for us to get in the way of success.

The key to side-stepping this fatal flaw to business growth is training.

Few ways will create more leverage in your dental business than training your team.

For greatest success, training should occur via different learning pathways.

Core professional skills is a must, but so too are scenario planning, role playing and on-the-ground practice.

Together, these different training vehicles empower your people.

Their performance may not be perfect (think more like 70 to 80 percent). However, you can be guaranteed strengthened business capacity to deliver.

Mega events demand a detailed training regimen and we can learn from that.

Looking for leverage? Be sure to incorporate a training schedule in your 2018 plan.

#4 Press Pause

With the typical pace of life and business accelerating, you’d be forgiven for rarely pressing pause.

We’re conditioned to do more, thinking this is somehow better than slowing down or pausing to reflect.

In a Zen-like kind of way, pausing, or doing nothing, at pivotal times is a game-changer.

Slowing down provides space for intelligent response, not knee-jerk reaction.

Certainly this is my own business experience.

More than once I’ve reacted too quickly, thinking I had to ‘do something’.

With hindsight, I’ve discovered how rushing in doesn’t serve me. In my hurry to fix things, it’s been necessary to track back over the issue and double handle it.

Had I paused, even briefly, I could have saved myself time, energy, and in many cases, a few dollars too.

Emergencies aside (and even these can be planned for), there are few situations where a pause – no matter how brief – can make a beneficial difference.

If pausing works in the world of mega events, it can work in dental business too.

#5 Be Purposeful

Behind many mega sporting events are causes that go beyond personal and financial gain.

Impacting many millions beyond the participants, Chris says the purpose behind the event has always been the greatest reward.

We know earning dollars is a necessary part of living on the planet. As a practice owner, it can keep us up at night.

But it’s the deeper purpose to our work and business that really creates substance and meaning – and drives us through the day.

We can ask “How can I make a bigger buck?”, but it won’t sustain us like asking, “How can I make more of a difference?”.

Be clear about your purpose and the impact you want to make. It will pay you.

Final Thoughts

You may never run a marathon, cycle a cross-country endurance ride, or make the Olympics. That’s okay.

As dental business owners, we’re not necessarily participants in these mega events, but we can definitely be students of them.

Apply and integrate these smart moves to work your business and life to greater advantage.

And there’s no need to wait either. You can move things along at our final 2017 workshop – Masterplan 2018: Preparing to Win – which will be held in Brisbane on 23-24 November. It’s the perfect way to refine your moves and drive business success in the year ahead.