After working with hundreds of dental practice owners around the country, I’ve begun to notice a few patterns. The most successful practice owners with booming dental practices tend to possess similar habits that serve them well in leadership, business, and life in general.
I wanted to share the habits of the most successful dental practice owners, because I believe that success leaves clues – and here are a few clues you can follow to help you on your journey.
1. The ability to focus
Building a practice, building a business of any kind takes a considerable amount effort and focus. If you want to build a great practice it has to become something that you conscientiously and deliberately focus your energy on day in, day out.
One of the problems that dental practice owners face is they often try to take on too many things at once. It might be taking on a new clinical skill, trying to learn the latest marketing tactic, managing staff – the list goes on. I suggest taking on no more than 3 projects at any given time. That’s because any more than that tends to exceed most people’s finite amount of focus.
2. Prioritising critical drivers
It’s one thing to focus, but it’s another thing to know what to focus on. In our program, we talk a lot about critical drivers; the handful of activities that move the business forward. It’s important to focus your time, energy, and resources where they’ll be most efficient, and that’s going to be your critical drivers.
Do less stuff, but do it better. Look at the activities that drive results and focus your energy and effort on those activities.
3. Time management
What I know is that successful dental practice owners have an ability to use their time very, very effectively. The one thing that unites every single person on the planet is we have 24 hours in a day to get stuff done – and it’s incredible to see the difference between people that use that time to accomplish incredible things versus those that let time dwindle away.
Often, we get distracted by the noise, the day-to-day stuff that people are throwing at us, little things that demand our attention, and those come at the expense of projects that are less urgent but perhaps more important. Using a tool like the Covey Quadrant can be a great way to prioritise different activities so nothing slips through the cracks.
4. Taking imperfect action
Successful dental practice owners execute on ideas and take action, even if that action is imperfect. The challenge that many dental practice owners face, is that they’re constantly thinking that they need more information before they can act. More information is not necessarily the key.
Of course, having a little bit of research is fine, but research at the expense of action still results in nothing really being done; so take imperfect action and get things done. You don’t need to see the top of the staircase to take the first step.
5. Being willing to fail
Failure is all but promised in life. There will be things that don’t work out the way you expect them to or want them to, and that’s okay.
Dentists tend to be perfectionists by nature which serves us well in clinical work, but can also make us extremely hard on ourselves. The key thing to understand is that as you make these mistakes, to learn from them and correct the course that you’re traveling.
Making mistakes over and over and over is okay provided you’re not making the same mistakes. Twenty years of experience is one thing. Twenty years of one year of experience is wholly different thing.
6. Develop resilience
A part of dealing with failure is developing the resilience necessary to bounce back stronger. Successful dental practice owners pick themselves up, and they continue on, and the persist until they reach their goal.
Have resilience, be persistent, identify opportunities, act on them, be prepared to fail, but get up when things don’t go your way, get up and try again.
7. Learn to love marketing
Marketing is actually really, really fun. There’s so much mental stimulation that can come from marketing. Marketing is understanding people and as dentists, we are in the people business. It’s about psychology and why people do the things that they do.
I want you to take a more strategic view on your marketing and get to enjoy it. Develop an ideal patient avatar and get to know them inside and out. Take a look at examples of successful marketing and think about why they work well. Model the thinking rather than copying the tactic. Look to other industries, think outside the box, and read broadly to get a better understanding of how you can develop a really solid marketing strategy.
8. Take time to recharge
Running a dental practice can be a very consuming endeavour. It’s important to take time out to ensure you’re nurturing your relationships with your family and your friends, getting adequate sleep, and looking after yourself.
It will make you more effective in the hours you work, help make better decisions, and people will enjoy working with you much more if you’re not crabby and exhausted!
9. Build a self-managing team
Successful dental practice owners become very successful because they are able to get other people to help them achieve their goals. They manage to extricate themselves from the day-to-day delivery of service, and their focus turns to building a team who can deliver great service. There’s a subtle but really important shift.
So, how do you develop an A-grade team? You need to be able to recruit effectively, a structured way of training and onboarding staff, and the ability to delegate. But most importantly, you need to ensure both you and your team are on the same page around what the expectations are. No one goes into work deliberately wanting to do a bad job, more often than not it comes from having different understandings around what’s required of them.
10. An appetite for reading
The most successful dental practice owners are great readers. Leaders are readers and I’m going to suggest to that you read lots and lots of books. On top of that, go to courses, listen to podcasts, all of those things.
Make sure you’re constantly learning and make sure you have this attitude of wanting to continually grow and develop your business skills, leadership, psychology, wealth, success, read biographies of people you look up to – and never get complacent. Many of histories great leaders, inventors, and thinkers have been vocal about their love of reading.
There are 10 habits that I’ve observed from the most successful dental practice owners that I wanted to share with you. Remember that success leaves clues, and these are the clues you need to follow if you want to advance in practice ownership.
P.S Want to scale your dental practice and take your profits to 7 figure success?
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