This is a golden age for the dental field. The industry is transforming in front of our very eyes, and those with a mind toward expanding and scaling up their business have endless opportunities in front of them. Just look at the level of eager investors in the dental industry; they are ready and waiting to cash in on this ripe field.
Whether you want to join forces and expand, focus on specialty, or tap into the fee-for-service market, there is a place for anything you can dream. Unfortunately, most of us have no idea how to begin the process. Without a smart business model, you can’t be assured your venture will be successful.
Know Grow Exit
I regularly lecture on preparing for business transitions and the heart of my message is: know, grow, exit. Know the value of what you have, grow your enterprise, and always have a sound exit strategy in hand.
Know What You Have
When beginning your venture, you have to go in with your eyes open. Most private practice clinicians do not understand the market for group and specialty practices, nor how to leverage it to their benefit. Before you can transition, you must know what you have, and what it’s worth. What is your value proposition? For both your A-to-B points, you need the due diligence on your market valuation and a sound business strategy that covers all variables. What do I have and what will I need to do to grow and stabilize my business and make it scalable?
You also need to know what you want to create. Whether it’s simple clinical excellence, patient-centered care, or something else—your core vision and guiding principles need to be defined, so they can be in the venture’s DNA at every stage.
A lot of dental dreamers first start to hit a brick wall if they are not committed to change, because calling in outside help is usually necessary for the due diligence stage. We are doctors, we are clinicians—not business wizards. Luckily, there are a lot of people out there who provide these services for emerging dentrepreneurs. They are cheerleaders, facilitators, and researchers; they give you the push you need to get the ball rolling, and they are often necessary.
Grow in a Smart, Sustainable Way
When you scale up, you have to think in terms of building an empire. Human resources are your most valuable asset in empire-building, because a culture of leadership and shared responsibility is more sustainable than a leader who tries to do it all.
Many solo clinicians are used to running a practice by keeping their eyes on all aspects of the business. To think empirically, you have to change the way you look at staffing. Your venture only scales to the degree your human resources are scalable.
The first thing a buyer is going to ask about is your leadership, management, and people. Why? Because systems, technology, and numbers don’t make a business work; people make a business work. Building a culture of accountability and shared vision is what builds a solid empire.
I have a lot of advice on staffing on my blog, because this is sometimes the hardest message to sink in. Changing how you hire and train is how you create the business-organism you want to build. Your people must be more than cogs in a well-designed machine; they should be the living embodiment of your organizational culture.
Plan for Your Exit Strategy, Even if You Don’t Need It
Having an exit strategy is more than just a look-before-you-leap thing. Working smart to make sure your venture will succeed is one thing, but you need to know what your exit strategy will be from the very start. This is the only way to build your venture into an organism that will sustain itself. Make sure you have a number two and number three behind you, so you can be the CEO of your business. You build for sustainability, so you can step out at any time and the value will still be there.
The process of transforming your business and scaling up is not something that happens over a period of weeks. It is a process that is on-going over months, and even years. Keeping an exit strategy in the brain from the very beginning will ensure that what you create will continue to serve its intended market long after your physical body is absent from the equation. This is how you succeed!
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