As a perennial student of business, for many years I’ve studied success principles I think will help me do business better.

I’ve read thousands of books, spoken with hundreds of business owners, and had a few experiences myself. Through all this, one thing seems clear.

We can learn and apply timeless success principles to create a great business.

As the busy end of year looms, and planning moves into the frame, let’s do a quick refresh.

That way, we can round out the year end in great shape.


#1 Principle – Have Your Own Definition of Success

Success means different things to each of us.

You could say there are as many versions of success as there are people on the planet.

The challenge is, sticking with our version.

In a world where technology is everywhere, we’re easily caught up in somebody else’s definition of success.

Without a clear focus, we can be forgiven for thinking we’re being left behind.

The best way to overcome this kind of thinking?

Get crystal clear about what success looks like for you.

It could be financial freedom. Maybe it’s providing for your family. It could be contributing to your community or flying to the moon.

The bottom line is: design your success according to your definition.

Do that by investing time and energy to gain clarity about what success looks like for you.

Ultimately, this will drive you forward and keep you from being distracted by what others do.

#2 Principle – Set Goals

My coaching clients know I’m a big advocate of goal setting.

Working like a homing device, goals help focus attention, energy and effort. Just like defining your own terms of success, deciding your goals is personal too.

As business owners, we set goals for our practice – revenue targets, patient retention, patients booked. Business-oriented goals are great. They keep us effective in that realm of life.

But we’re multi-dimensional, so it pays to have goals in other areas like health and family.

You might do this by creating a single list or a list for each area.

Just be aware that multiple lists of goals can reduce effectiveness, rather than enhance it.

To overcome ‘the dilution effect’, I use the idea of themes I picked up from Andrew Griffiths, Australia’s number one business book author.

Themes are great. They’re general rather than specific and give context to goals. They allow you to see business and life from a ‘big picture’ perspective.

For example, I might create a theme to reduce distractions and improve productivity.

In that context, I might set goals to check emails twice daily and turn off notifications.

I may not monitor progress against these goals every day. However, at the end of several months or year, I’ll reflect and assess how I’m going.

Depending on progress, I’ll adjust my approach accordingly.

Goals set this way allow disciplined healthy habits to form. And habits are a well-known foundation of success.

Robert Collier was right when he said: success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.

While themes create a picture of success; habits fill the picture in.

#3 Principle – Have a Vision

No business success if possible without a dream or vision.

Think about it. Your dental business wouldn’t be where it is now if you hadn’t created a vision and given it life by implementing a plan.

I love Andrew Griffith’s story about how he wrote his first book.

When he shared his idea with some so-called marketing gurus, they told him he couldn’t do it.

What they underestimated was Andrew’s vision to write.

He didn’t listen to them and that first book (along with eleven others) became a bestseller.

Create a vision and work towards it with a plan that’s supported by goals.

#4 Principle – Maintain Unwavering Self Belief 

Even the most mentally robust among us have moments of doubt.

Yes, we’re human, but success relies on rock solid belief in yourself.

Without doubt, challenges will always arise in business and life. What I’ve found is it’s how we respond to the challenges, rather than the challenges that make us.

As far as possible load up your self belief by any means possible.

I find stories about people overcoming adversity keep me inspired. These stories show me that other people have faced challenges – and overcome them too.

It’s also vital to have people in your life who believe in you. This might be a business coach or mentor. It could also be a professional peer group.

Self belief is like a muscle. Ironically, just like resilience, it grows during challenging times.

Have clear goals and a ‘Why’ and your self belief muscle will have the best chance of surviving the stress test.

#5 Principle – Be a Good Student

What I’ve come to realise is success is not an end point.

Although it may be clichéd, success is a journey.

What this means is learning is never done if you want to be successful.

You only need look to some of the world’s most successful business people and you’ll see they have an ongoing commitment to learning and growing.

Whether it’s through books, courses or chance meetings, there is always something to be learned and gained.

Approaching life and business this way means we’re able to bring different new ideas and energy to what we’re doing, without having to reinvent the wheel.

Keep learning and you’ll be rewarded lifelong.

#6 Principle – Join a Good Crowd

It was the great success legend Jim Rohn who said:

“Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.”

Success requires that we spend time with quality people.

It is their influence, character, energy and ideas that are infectious and call us higher.

One of the reasons I enjoy the business owners who make up the Practice Max community is their collective commitment to doing better.

They, together with other entrepreneurial communities I’m involved in, are an inspiration.

Apart from learning more, I’m motivated and energised purely through association.

Make sure your “people” are a good crowd and you’ll be sustained on your pathway to success.

#7 Principle – Be Generous

Being generous might seem out of place among success principles, but it definitely belongs there.

Truly successful people are generous: with time, ideas, spirit and knowledge.

In some cases, these people might be financially generous too, but it’s not the determining factor when it comes to success.

At its most basic level, successful people want to help others and solve problems.

Generosity can be delivered in many forms and like the definition of success, it’s vital you find one that works for you.

Some final words…

Success is really about understanding yourself better.

It starts by defining your own version of success, developing a plan, and going after it with an unwavering belief in yourself backed by some clear goals.

When we can do that, the rest kind of falls into place.

Want to make 2018 your best year yet?

Why not join me and other dentists who are growing and scaling their successful practices at my next event, Masterplan 2018: Preparing to Win in Brisbane on 23-24 November 2017. We’d love to see you there.