How important is money to your practice? As an orthodontist, how do you feel about the title of this post? It’s actually a quote from one of the most respected motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar. He was a huge inspiration in my life when I was a young dentist. I would listen to his tape series (yeah, an actual cassette series) on my way to work every day and I realized that for every hour of clinical CE I took, I personally needed 10X more time working on my business growth and profitability. How about you?

But Ziglar’s comment tended to rub me the wrong way at first and I needed an explanation to better understand it. After all, I wanted to help people. Saying that I wanted to make money sounded, well, disrespectful. Zig’s point is that if you don’t make money, your ability to practice and help others dies.

My experience with my fellow orthodontists is that most consider themselves artisan health care providers first and business owners second. As a matter of fact, it’s almost impossible to have a discussion about a new clinical approach or a way to be more profitable without someone adding “but always do what’s best for the patient” as if the best clinical outcome and most profitable almost have to be in conflict with one another. We also tend to get more excited about a new clinical technique and not so much about a new book on leadership or marketing.

Let’s move forward in agreement that almost every orthodontist I know wants what’s best for the patients and tries to give their best outcomes for every situation. But, we need to make a living and we need to acknowledge that money is the reason we go to work every day. Orthodontics is the profession that allows us to make the aforementioned money and Ziglar’s comment tells us to never forget that.

Allan Dib, author of “The 1-Page Marketing Plan” states: “If you didn’t go into business to make money, then you’re either lying or you have a hobby, not a business.”

Are you OK recognizing that you run (or plan on running) a for-profit business? I know that you’re doing everything you can to become the best clinician you’re able to become, but are you doing everything you can to become the most profitable business owner too? Reducing overhead often requires many tough emotional decisions and we need to be prepared to make them.

Yes, we must serve our patients well, but I knew an amazing clinical instructor in dental school who actual declared bankruptcy twice because he was so focused on clinical outcomes and not the business side. His story isn’t unique. A dentist friend of mine (an amazing clinician) recently shut his doors and while chatting on the phone, he said : “I wish I had worked harder ON my practice and not just the clinical.”

I beg you to PLEASE focus on the business side of your practice. If you’re diligent, you already have the skills to become a great clinician. You were trained for that, but I’m asking you to work on becoming more profitable, focus on your business strategy, read business books, find business mentors, go to business meetings, because you need these things to help your practice succeed.

Sure, there are new clinical techniques you need to learn and new technology you have to understand, but keep in mind that you were trained in clinical and not business. And if your business doesn’t make a profit, like my clinical instructor, you won’t be able to help others. In addition to being your clinical best self, strive to be the most profitable orthodontist you can be. And never forget my other favorite Zig Ziglar quote:
“Honesty and integrity are by far the most important assets of an entrepreneur.”

All the best,

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Want to be a part of a geographically exclusive Facebook group like none other? With monthly webinars and CE courses with top speakers in the industry, there are only two prerequisites: You’re an orthodontist (yes, you can be an associate) and you want to contribute to a group of like-minded peers who have come together to share our practice ideas and solve our common business, leadership and management issues. Email me at Glenn@OrthoPreneursRD.com to learn more and to see if you’re region is available.

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