Lego dentists in a row

Who’d be an employer?

Practice Development, Ross Martin

By Ross Martin, Accountancy Director at Hive Business

The dental sector harbours a large number of people who run their businesses just to get along. This is what happens when your (clinical) heart rules your (profit-making) head: you subsidise the rent out of your own pocket, you underpay yourself for clinical hours, and you try to be the leaderthe business manager and the shareholder all at once.

But a business should turn a profit as well as paying you for your time. That’s only reasonable if you’re going to take the trouble of setting it up, and it’s even more true in dentistry with compliance and equipment raising the cost of doing business. Add in punishing tax rates on small business owners, and the stress of being an employer.

Employers are struggling to breathe right now. Mercifully, millennial graduates don’t need the gold plated final salary pension that was par for the course for their forbears, but they do come with new challenges. Perhaps what we have been doing collectively, through parenting, schooling and university — and with the best of intentions — is reinforcing a world view in which the child, and their feelings, are always at the centre.

That can translate into a dental graduate fresh out of university who expects a patient list, a 50% deal and flexi-time, and wants to be a valued stakeholder in your business from day one. None of which is necessarily off the table, but in a sane world it’s reasonable to expect certain things in return, such as a clinician with a good chairside manner who can build a list themselves. Realistically though, your mannerisms, the way you hold yourself, the way you talk and your knowledge of your subject matter take years to build up. Older generations understood that if you want it, fine, put in the hard graft and grab it, and stop complaining, because you’re not that important. If you want respect and aim to be a valued team member, slog it out and earn it.

Meanwhile you have hostile signals from the establishment — the European Court of Justice’s ruling on Uber is a good example. It says that, technically, self-employed drivers aren’t self-employed, never mind that it’s the explicit basis of Uber’s business model, and how it has created so many jobs — the accessibility and flexibility of work for Uber drivers makes up for their lack of employee entitlements, and you can’t get both at the same time. And you have the tax clampdown on “disguised employment”, which is behind a 30,000 drop in new companies registered by known contractor accounting providers in 2017, according to the Centre For Entrepreneurs. And you have the burden of pension auto-enrolment, and countless other suffocating state edicts.

As an employer, if it feels like everyone is against you, it’s because they are. It’s tough out there, and I hear the question “why am I doing this again?” a lot. It does ultimately have to be worth it for you. So if your business is not paying you a profit then let’s work out a strategy to grow your business, improve it or sell it. Please get in touch on 01872 300232 or email [email protected].

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