Helping dentists brush up on their strategy
We were recently asked to write an article for the latest edition of Modern Dentist magazine. The publication aims to tackle the fundamentals of running a business with an on patient care and outstanding delivery of service.
We wrote an article which focuses on one of the big issues faced by dentists (and a lot of other small business owners). Being just too busy to work on your business! With most time spent working in your business – doing the day to day, helping patients/customers and dealing with staff issues.
We gave our top 10 tips to get business owners working on their business rather than just in it, and you can develop a strategy for your business and really take it forward.
You can find the full article below.
Are you working ‘on’ your business?
You may have qualified as a Dentist but how would you fair taking your business degree?
It’s that time of year again when our Facebook timelines are full of friends and family graduation pictures. It takes us back to a time when we were excited about our future careers, and untouched by the realities of meeting our professional obligations and the stresses of running a business.
There are many reasons why you may have chosen to be a dentist, from helping people to look and feel better, to making a genuine difference to people’s lives and well-being.
But how many of you were drawn to the profession purely to make money or become a successful entrepreneur?
There are many dentists who aspire to running their own business, and this may be one of the key reasons for joining the profession. However, there are many others without that ambition and find themselves becoming accidental managers/finance directors/marketeers and HR professionals.
So, you’re a business owner…now what?
Your main priority is helping people, fixing teeth, and doing what you’re trained to do. This is great, but how much time does this leave for working on your business? We spoke to a dentist practicing in the North West who told us,
“I only spend about 20% of my time working on my business. With a large practice loan to pay off, NHS requirements, and keeping up with regulation changes, it doesn’t leave much time to focus on a growth plan for the business.”
It’s a common problem for dentists running their own practice. With industry pressures, the constant stream of clients, and dealing with staff issues, you find yourself spread so thinly there is no time to develop a strategy and take it forward.
Developing a strategy is a lot like looking after teeth…
- Have a (treatment) plan
- Carryout the (treatment) plan
- Regular review (check-up)
- Maintenance (brush and floss)
So, we’ve come up with our top 10 tips to help you get working on your business and start seeing the benefit.
1. Ditch the business plan
Although it makes a lot of sense to have a business plan, they tend to be a set of spreadsheets, numbers, and words that are usually written to raise finance. They rarely see the light of day and make very little impact on how we run our businesses on a day-to-day basis.
It’s time to think about something different, in other words a strategy! Yes, it all sounds very corporate, but strategy works just as well for small businesses as the large corporates. It’s about lifting the plan off the page, getting inspired, and creating something that’s living and breathing in your business. Getting everyone involved with the strategy helps to develop a shared vision for the future of the practice.
2. Understand why you want it
It’s time to be selfish. What are your personal objectives for the business?
“Apart from providing good quality dentistry, my ambition is to build a scalable business to allow me to move out of practice.”
Once you know what you want, it’s time to get the business working for you. Often, we find ourselves being the last one to leave the office, the last one to get paid, and the last one to take a holiday. So, it’s time to get selfish and think about number one for a change. Try and think about what you really want out of your business and what it’s going to do for you personally, for your family, for your future, and
your future financial security and freedom.
3. Build on firm foundations
Understand what’s most important, and what you’re passionate about. Basically, why you do what you do!
If you really want to set your business apart and get it flying, you need to invest some time into thinking about what you really believe in as a business. What’s important to you? What traits and values do you look for in your partners, staff members, suppliers, and even your target customers?
In other words, what does your business stand for and how do you want it to be perceived by others?
4. Understand what business you’re in
Simply describing yourself as a dental practice means absolutely nothing. Customers don’t want dental treatment they want something else, but what is it? It’s important to start thinking like a customer and working out what they’re buying from you. Going back to our North West Dentist,
“Patients vary in what they’re buying from you. NHS patients just want their teeth fixed while private patients are buying a better appearance.”
And this is what you need to focus on.
5. Get ready to break big
Once you’ve understood why you do what you do, what business you’re in, and what you believe in as an organisation, it’s important to set a destination. A vision that your company starts to live by will carry it a long way. Even if you never reach the destination, it means that you can start planning your journey and working out what you need to do differently, when you need to do it by, and who you need to involve to make it happen.
6. Know your market
It’s amazing how much market intelligence we have just by looking inside our businesses, and within our local business communities. It’s not about commissioning expensive market research, it’s about understanding who the most valuable customers are, which customers value you the most, and which customers are the most/least profitable. With many customers being unwilling to receive your services as dentists, it’s important to focus on those who do.
When done properly, this exercise can produce a huge list of opportunities that can take you towards that destination we mentioned earlier. The big question is which ones to focus on.
7. Look in the mirror
Take a good look in the mirror and understand what you’re great at, where you can improve, where you’re vulnerable, and most importantly where your edge is. From here you can work out which opportunities you should focus on to grow your business, and more importantly which ones you should not be focusing on.
8. Stand out from the crowd
Once you’ve got a clear focus, you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd and create the x factor that attracts people and the right customers to your business.
Companies get paid not just for performing a valuable task, but for being different from their competitors, and the sharper the differentiation the greater the advantage.
For many small businesses, the difference lies in the detail of the offer to the customer, and that’s what needs to be sold.
9. Create a sales plan
Once we have clarity on our value proposition, and our most valuable customers, we can then map out how we can get to these people and do business with them.
You can’t try to be all things to all people and expect to succeed, which is why precise targeting is so important. At the same time, how you develop the relationship you have with your target customers is key.
10. Press the reset button
Remember you can’t do this on your own. You’ve only got one pair of hands, so you need to involve the rest of your team, share the vision with them, and get them to come up with a plan of how you’re all going to do it.
Build the people around the business, not the other way around.
So, that’s it! It’s time to go out and achieve your vision.
For more information about the business support we offer, get in touch today. Or you can find your local business doctor here.