By Hayley Robins, Senior Accountant at Hive Business.
The dangerous thing and the great thing about being your own boss is that you don’t have to answer to anyone. And there’s a specific danger that I think is peculiar to dental practice owners.
Often you are slogging it out with a weighty portfolio on your shoulders, doing a business manager’s job and working as the principal fee earner.
There’s a natural temptation to turn elements of your business into a box ticking exercise and do the bare minimum, if only to keep things moving. And while this might work in the short term, it can’t serve you or your business with the best outcome.
It will probably cause you to use your time badly, leading to personal burnout, and your business won’t be using its resources to improve turnover and profit.
We see this pattern a lot, and when I make suggestions to dental practice owners it’s usual to get responses like, “Oh, I’ve already got a bookkeeper, she does that…” or, “Yes, we have a marketing guy, he does that.” The boxes have been ticked, so let’s talk about something else.
Meanwhile the same business owners are comfortable spending significant sums on high end implant training. The obvious suggestion from us in that case would be, “Why not get the money you’re investing in marketing to market your new implant treatments?”
One guy I know invests a little in ongoing generic marketing, and his business appears as generic as they come. To strangers it looks like a general dental practice.
And yet he invests heavily in training for himself and loves doing implant work, and he’s in the perfect catchment for it, with an affluent, elderly population. Aligning his marketing with his business interests could do wonders. It’s odd to have to say that.
Our clients receive management accounts from us, and many treat this as another box ticking exercise too. I’ll go on record as saying this is a waste of money unless you are going to digest the information.
Why? An example: it’s happened more than once that we’ve told a client they have bigger profits than normal and we could address the tax problem ahead of time. They don’t, are shocked by the tax bill later, and have less options available to them, so pay more tax.
Our consultancy serves some of our clients as a kind of surrogate board member, to challenge assumptions and give accountability, and make sure they do the things they want to do. Of course, not everyone needs this, but for many people being accountable to someone else helps them follow through.
For instance, if I wanted to spend Hive’s money on something, I’d have to sell my idea to the rest of the board, and that would mean demonstrating that my idea was effective, before and after. As my own boss I’d probably go straight ahead and spend what I wanted without stepping back first, and I wouldn’t be so interested in measuring the results afterwards, especially if I suspected that I wasn’t going to like what I found.
When the evidence is uncomfortable, people avoid looking at it. I think this lies behind the box ticking phenomenon, which strikes me as a way to feel safe because, to borrow the words of former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, it helps you stick to known knowns, and so there’s no need to worry about known unknowns or unknown unknowns.
If you’re ready to look beyond your known knowns, talk to us. Call 01872 300232 or email us at [email protected].