Business Reources

Booms, Busts and Business Survival

The end of the year is a time for relaxation and reflection. Amongst the many topics of contemplation one major area should be how well our businesses have performed and if there is anything we should be doing to improve our situations. An event that now seems to be left happily behind in the far distant past is the economic recession of 2007-2011. Most businesses seem to have regenerated themselves with newfound leases of life. However, there has been much to learn from that economic downturn and to dismiss and forget those events entirely could spell disaster, especially if you were to fall back into complacent patterns.

Lessons from the past

So here are a few tips and strategies that could help you to re-focus on the important elements of your business for the coming year:

  • Reassess your goals and priorities on a regular basis. You may find that what was once important now no longer is. Using up your resources in trying to meeting redundant objectives can slow down progress and increase costs unnecessarily.
  • Regular Team meetings. Regrouping with your team on a regular basis can help to refocus and redirect your most expensive overhead in the correct way. This can help you to emerge in a better and stronger position than before.
  • Encourage Creativity. If you are ever faced with limited resources (including limited cash flow) then fostering creativity within your team can help to seek out new and better ways of achieving the same objectives. This is especially evident in marketing activities where occasionally unconventional methods can help to attract attention from potential customers.
  • Make sure you have all the business fundamentals in place. One thing I have learnt from working with so many dentists is that it often doesn’t matter how much you focus on any one area of the practice; if you don’t have the fundamentals systems and strategies in place in all the core elements of business then things almost inevitably will go wrong. There are 7 core fundamentals in total: Vision, Clinical Skills, Team, Marketing, Gaining Case Acceptances, Systems and your Financial Model.
  • Don’t fear making mistakes. As long as you have analysed your risks and weighed up your options after detailed due diligence, don’t fear taking the next step because you might make mistakes. You will only grow from whatever outcome you obtain.
  • However do learn from your mistakes. It is not making the mistake that actually hinders your progress as much as not learning from them. Having said this, take a moment to check all the activities you are doing and make sure that you are not repeating any past mistakes which could become very costly to you.
  • Get help. Sometimes it is better to gain momentum and speed of success by simply taking advantage of someone else’s experience. Get yourself a business mentor or coach to help achieve your success faster. They will often have experienced your situation to varying extents and will facilitate progress in a much easier and bearable fashion.
  • Develop clear focused Strategy for success. This helps you to manage your daily outcomes as well as keep one eye firmly on your future goals. It amazes me to see how many dental business owners keep their heads buried deep in the day-to-day problems with no thought for where they will be in six months time. Strategy helps you to re-invent your business. Positive change in this way keeps business fresh and up to date.

These are a few essentials to think about when planning for 2015. So this Christmas break you may want to consider how you would like to change your practice for the better unleashing new life into creating business success. Create your own luck in achieving your vision and a boom in your business. Meanwhile, let me wish you a very happy and successful New Year!

Don’t miss next month’s blog when I will be providing tips on how to make cash “king” and how to make your own luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thriving Amid Uncertainty

Globalisation, technology and innovations are rapidly changing the way dentistry is perceived, performed and understood. Of course this opens doorways to better and more enhanced ways of doing things but it also creates a more complex world with uncertainty and confusion.

We are generating and dealing with more information than ever before. There are now so many choices available for the principal dentist as to how business should be conducted that it often leads to stagnation or ineffective decision-making. This further fuels frustrations and inefficiency.

So, how do you survive and thrive amid this complexity? How do you sort signals from noise and focus on the opportunities that matter most?

In my experience as a business coach I have noticed how many dentists have stumbled and struggled. In response to a changing world they create an overabundance of processes, layers, key performance indicators and other internal mechanisms. This organizational mishmash fails to address the complexity they face or the fundamental elements of core business strategy.Just because the world is becoming more complex, organizational structures and processes do not need to follow suit.

Developing creative solutions to complex challenges

In my opinion, there is really only one possible answer that can address this problem and that is through Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL). This is where there is structure but no fixed priority. The Entrepreneurial Leader will always have his or her eye on the main objective at task but will also develop the flexibility to foster creative solutions to these complex challenges in everyday practice.

There are 3 key areas to re-focus on during uncertain times:

  1. Vision.

This is how you see your future for both entry and exit from your business. This is the “dream” that you want to achieve. The questions to ask are – Are you on track? Does the change facilitate or hinder your progress? How can you convert it creatively into an opportunity?

  1. Financial Model.

This is where you establish clear metrics that you can track, record and evaluate to achieve your goals and ultimately, your Vision. As long as your solutions are keeping you in line with your estimated financial goals you should be ok. If they are not then you need to re-evaluate where the holes in your business operations need to be plugged in.

  1. Leadership.

There are two aspects to consider when understanding Leadership:

  1. How to work “on” your Team – This is where you establish leadership skills to inspire and motivate your Team to follow you in achieving your Vision. It is the art of getting others to do the things you need them to do because they want to do it.
  1. How to work “in” your Team – This is where you establish protocols for improvements within your Team. This can include management systems, practice team agreements, increasing skills and training and meetings for proper business function. It helps to create true Teamwork – a committed group of individuals working cohesively towards a common set of goals. However, the key here is to establish the correct priorities to make the creative solutions occur. This means that decision-making from the EL needs to become more fluid than restrictive.

What we want…

We want our practice to be operating at optimal strength. We want our Team to possess a deep and intuitive understanding of the strategy, common objectives, and vision of our practice. Thus enabling each individual to know what to do and where to focus. Managers spend their time doing and leading rather than sitting in meetings. The Team are excited about coming to work because their leaders encourage experimentation, initiative, innovation and completion.

In short, rather than commanding and controlling, a leader favours fluid-decision making. Rather than setting detailed strategies and goals, they impart a dynamic directional vision for their employees to follow. Rather than leading from the top through hierarchy, they institutionalise leadership throughout their practice thus thriving amidst uncertainty.

 

The Power of Observation

When it comes to establishing premium service and care in top practices how we behave in the business environment is as important as how we communicate to one another. In fact, our actions can either be productive or remain stagnant. If they contribute towards the success of the business then collectively the practice will do well. However, if our actions are never changing for the better or remain flatlined, then the business can suffer. I feel that much of success in business has to do with the power of observation as described by the Hawthorne Effect.

The term “Hawthorne Effect”, coined by psychologist Henry. A. Landsberger in 1950, refers to our social environment and our actions. He reviewed some experiments that were carried out at Hawthorne Works, a Western Electric Plant outside Chicago between 1924 and 1933. In efforts to increase productivity among the workers, the company spent years tweaking and altering factors such as lunch hours, pay schedules and level of lighting. Workers predictably became more productive when the lighting was brighter. Reviewing the data decades later, Landsberger concluded that workers increased productivity because they could tell there was an interest in them and how they worked. He defined the Hawthorne Effect as a short term improvement in performance caused by observing workers. In other words, people change their behavior when they think others are watching.

Today, the Hawthorne Effect phenomenon is as pertinent as ever, for example, as with social media. There are billions of us on Facebook, more than a quarter billion on Twitter, and hundreds of millions on Pinterest, Google+ and other networks. Smart phones allow us to continuously plug into our social media audience. Never before could we so quickly and easily share our behavior with others and get the opinion of scores of people who are “observing” us. Perhaps leading to modified behavior.

The Hawthorne Effect if used correctly can also be applied to the business of dentistry especially in leadership of our teams. Team members seem to take on more productive behaviours and work harder if they feel that there is some measure of authority observing their actions and daily work quality.

There are several strategies that can be used to improve and enhance teamwork by using the power of observation. This will contribute to improved team performance and better quality of care.

 

Tips on applying the Hawthorne Effect:

–      Regular individual team appraisals are important to make it known that managers are observing how well the team are working. Those team members that feel that there is really no one there to oversee how well they work may very easily slip into a comfort zone where they are not as productive as they could be.

–      Regular team meetings on improving the quality of care given by the team in their various roles becomes critical to maintaining productivity and staying ahead in business. Team members need to understand what is important to the practice principal. This helps them to understand what is expected of them.

–      Regular observation walks through the practice observing the team going about their business. Noting discrepancies or incorrect tendencies can have a huge impact on establishing positive employee behavior. The team needs to know that managers are not just confined to their offices but are observant in noting the efficiency of the operating systems of the practice. Here the manager will be observing things like correctly running processes, adherence of practice rules and that the team are following the practice systems as trained. This also allows managers to highlight what elements are working and which are not. Thus contributing to increasing practice productivity.

–      Accentuate the positive. As Ken Blanchard explains in his book “Whale Done”, catch your people doing the right things and applaud them for it. Appreciate your team when they do things correctly and/or redirect their behavior when they do things incorrectly. As such they will be able to make a shift in their actions, collaborate in a better way and be encouraged towards the required behavior. This fosters repetition of such behaviours thus leading to increase of productive behaviours.

Keeping in touch by careful observation with the realities of every day business in your practice can help to enhance systems and functions. It will help to also highlight the unmet needs of your practice and team. Thus facilitating better leadership and the results achieved.

5 Serious Mistakes Leaders Make

It is true that mistakes provide the grounds for sound learning. However, it is still better if you can learn from the experience of others and not make critical mistakes to begin with – especially when their impact is detrimental to the success of your practice. Misunderstanding leadership is one of those big mistakes that can easily be avoided with a little guidance.

So what do we strive for when we talk about leadership? My favourite definition is: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he/she wants to do it.”

Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win” as a team or an organization; and it should be dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.

However, there are some common mistakes that I see being repeatedly made. The following are in my experience 5 of the biggest leadership mistakes: Read More

Are your eggs all in one basket?

A Happy Easter to you all.

Having been overwhelmed with many chocolate Easter Eggs this year (not complaining), it made me think about how we compromise ourselves in business. Are we compromising ourselves by putting all our eggs in one basket? Are we over burdening our managers or ourselves?

You see Managers and business owners can often be swamped with too much to do and too little time to do it in. Even if they were to prioritize and use all the basic time management tools things can still end up being left on the backburner. This can cause undue stress to the manager and practice principal. However, it also has a greater detrimental affect directly to the business growth which becomes stagnated. When this happens the business slowly begins to decline. Read More

Planning Ahead for Business Success

Last year went speeding by and now we are already into 2014. So many people wait until the New Year to get their focus back and re-align their businesses with new goals and new objectives that sometimes the most important priorities never get done during the year. This actually applies to both their professional and personal lives. Most often this is because the actions that actually give you the amazing growth spurts in your business are often the most difficult to do. They get considered at the beginning of the year but then are easily forgotten as we go deeper into the year. However, delay is the greatest form of denial. And consequently, the success remains hindered. Read More

DWB working in close association with The Perfect Smile Advanced Training Institute