I’m in the middle of reading “Making Money is Killing Your Business” by Chuck Blakeman. In the opening pages, he uses the term “ambitiously lazy” to describe his approach to work. It means that he worked his butt off really heavily early in his career because he wanted to coast later on. In essence, he was very ambitious with his labor to grow his business so that later he could work way less.
Is orthodontic practice ownership different? We do indeed have to work our butts off to grow our practices. Gone are the days of dentistry when you could open a practice and be “in the black” (making money) two weeks after opening (yes, that’s the way practice used to be). We have to wear a ton of hats like manager, leader, entrepreneur, HR chief, PR manager, etc, etc, etc.. It takes a lot of work.
People often ask me if they should open their own office or keep working their corporate gig. I always say that owning a practice isn’t for the faint of heart. If you want to race home 5 minutes after the last patient and not work on marketing or business plans, then by all means do not own a practice. But if you want the advantages of being your own boss and setting your ship in the direction of your choosing, then practice ownership can be so incredibly rewarding, But you must work at it, and unlike Mr. Blakeman, who runs an online business, we must continue at it.
If you plant a tree, you need to dig a hole and work hard to water it, stake it, feed it and eventually it will bear fruit. But what happens when it’s “mature” and you neglect it? Sure, it will still offer fruit, but eventually it will start to decline and ultimately the tree will die. Our practices are the same.
We all have seen the more mature clinician who hasn’t tended to the practice the way they used to, believing that their popularity alone will gain them patients. Ask them how their FB marketing is going and they’re likely to say: “I’m not on social media” and their websites show no signs of updating in the last decade. As a friend of mine once said, they’re “riding their dinosaurs into extinction” and there isn’t a practice around that’s immune to the outcomes of neglect.
So, heed my advice and spend some extra time working on your practice every day. Focus on that extra FB post or a new system for lab tracking or maybe have that difficult talk with that team member instead of rushing home. Most importantly, if your practice is mature, continue doing the things that made you successful. Whether you plan on working for the next 20 years or retiring next year, the extra work will benefit you.
Being ambitiously lazy isn’t for orthodontic practice owners. Now go do one special task to make your practice better. 🙂
Wishing you all the best!!!
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