6 Year Anniversary
In June of 2009 the figurative ship that is DDS Integration set sail. We’re now coming up on 6 years, and we are grateful beyond words to all those who helped us get here, most notably, our wonderful clients. A special thanks goes to a very special office in Okemos that urged/nudged/dragged me into embarking on my own. It was their encouragement and persistence that ultimately convinced me that I could do this and that the Dental market of West Michigan needed my services. Suffice to say they were right. It’s been a thrill and an honor every step of the way. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
We’re all in the business of small business, so I thought for this “anniversary edition” article I’d share some of what has helped my business succeed as well as how I’ve managed to find some balance in my life, despite being a small business owner. You’ll probably empathize :)
Checks and Balances
I am and have always been a trusting person. I learned the hard way that trust, while important and necessary, has its limitations. Whether you’ve heard my specific story or not, you’ve no doubt heard one similar where trust is granted without checks and balances. Put those systems into place and know you’ll never have to deal with it.
Hire people better than yourself
We tend to think highly of ourselves. After all, we are great! Here’s a little secret though: you’re probably really only great at one or two aspects of your business. For the rest, hire people who are better than you. Then, you can focus on the things you are great at and not the ones you struggle with.
Delegate & value your time
Building off the last one, don’t try to do it all yourself. Find the balance between you doing it yourself to save a couple bucks and you doing it yourself and losing production time. You may be able to fix a computer problem in an hour, but shouldn’t you produce for an hour while the tech guy fixes it in 10 minutes? Delegate more to your staff too. Your time is probably your biggest asset, don’t waste it.
Step back from your day to day
How much time do you spend actually thinking about your business? I’m not talking about “what procedures do I have today”, “what was production last month” and those day to day type thoughts. My best ideas for how to grow, how to improve, and on and on, have come at times when I was not actively engaged with a typical day to day task. We get so caught up at being at work or working all the time we don’t leave time for reflection and serious thought. Flip this paradigm and you’ll be surprised what you come up with.
Get involved with a group or a coach
This really helps to step back. I have scheduled time either weekly or monthly with a CEO roundtable and a business coach. These are times where we are talking about my business, someone else’s business, or business in general. It’s a great sounding board for your ideas and a great way to get unique perspective on how your business could be better. I’m an IT guy learning how to run a business. Same as Dental school, my computer degree didn’t teach me how to run a successful business. These people are excellent resources in getting there.
Make a McDonald’s
This might not apply as much to Dentistry, but I read a book called Emyth that talks about trying to make your business like McDonald’s. Certainly not in all aspects but in the repeatability of it. Put systems in place that make your business able to run even when you’re not actively involved 100% of the time. For me these systems were the right procedures and most importantly the right staff with well-defined job accountabilities.
Balance for me took 3-4 years to attain. Starting as a sole proprietor I fell into the trap of making my clients (and myself) believe that I was the only one that could do my job. Flat out, no one else was as smart, as careful, as caring, as friendly, and on and on…Therefore, letting someone else do the work for me was not an option. I was darn good at my job but I was married to it. Couple this with constant growth and it became clear that DDS Integration would reach its limits in the form of my calling it quits.
Through the steps above I began the process of making DDS Integration about more just Greg both to myself and my clients. Today, I have an incredible staff who can take on all the things I thought only I could do. Doing the job well yourself has a certain satisfaction to it, though what I’ve since learned is that seeing someone else do the job equally well has even greater satisfaction. My number 1 goal, taking care of clients, is still being met, while I now can be what I mistakenly thought I was all along, a true small business owner. DDS Integration is better for it, my clients are better for it, and I am better for it.
Our small businesses are our livelihood, our source of income, and hopefully happiness. I again express gratitude to all you out there who have had a hand in making this dream a reality for me. My family, my clients, my staff, the WMDDS for its continued dedication and support to the Dental community, and all you out there I’ll meet in the future.
What are your thoughts?
Comment on our blog or Facebook article. We’d love to hear your opinions on your small business or ours!
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