3 practical strategies
to achieve business
and personal growth
As you look back on 2018, how would you rate yourself in the following areas (just to name a few)?
- Team development
- Work-life balance
- Time off
- Physical wellness
If you came up short in any of them compared with where you’d like to be, don’t be discouraged. Now is the perfect time to put your plan in place for business and personal success in 2019.
But here’s what you need to realize: You are the common denominator in all your failures, just like you’re the common denominator in all your successes. And learning from failures is important, because it’s your greatest source of growth.
There is an enormous amount of opportunity for you to grow in 2019, and you have what it takes to break through whatever is holding you back. Never talk yourself out of discovering your true capabilities. But this is by no means easy; it takes work, patience and persistence. You must truly be willing to change how you’re currently doing things. The decision rests with you.
Here are three areas to start focusing on right now that will go a long way to making 2019 your best year yet.
Change your approach
to setting goals
Anything you want to achieve over the next year—whether it’s ramping up productivity or increasing income—will start with goal-setting. If you haven’t set goals before, that’s OK—you’ll be starting with a clean slate and learn the best way to do it. And if you’ve previously set goals but with unsuccessful results, don’t worry; most likely you just need to change your approach.
I find that most doctors are fairly conservative, particularly when it comes to risk. As a result, they set goals based on what they think they can accomplish or obtain. But that’s where the problem begins, because things you already know you can do are not goals; instead, goals are ideal outcomes that you would have in an ideal world. They’re things that you’ve never accomplished before. A goal is designed to be a stretch and may feel unattainable at first.
You set your goals to be a stretch for a reason: If you set goals based on only what you can obtain, you won’t grow. Not only will your office be stagnant, it will also encourage loss of control, excuses, low energy, and lack of engagement and learning. But if you set goals correctly and encourage the right mindset, you will shift the general focus from problems to solutions, empower people to produce results, and create an opportunity for you and your team to win at something.
To help you get started, here are the keys to successful goal-setting:
- Write it down. When you write your goal down on paper, it becomes real in a way that it wasn’t before, and that makes it something you can actually pursue.
- Be specific. Everyone in the world wants to do better, but “better” is not specific. Therefore, be very clear about what you want, and use benchmarks that can be measured, such as numbers, deadlines and dates.
- Make a plan. Plans are what move you and your practice forward. So you need to put one in place that produces the results you want. Goals and plans go hand in hand.
- Prepare to “fail.” Your goals aren’t meant to help you play it safe; they’re meant to take you somewhere you’ve never been before. You must work hard to accomplish them and be willing to make mistakes along the way.
One of the main challenges with goal-setting is staying accountable, which can be difficult if you keep goals to yourself. That’s why it’s important to share them with other people, so the commitment extends beyond just you. For years, I would write out my goals in a letter, then send it to the 10 most important people in my life. These were people that I could not let down, so it was extremely motivating to stay on course and see the goals through.
Become a ‘yes’ office
If you’re serious about making 2019 your best year yet, you need to focus on becoming as patient-centric as possible. Think about your own buying experiences: Companies such as Nordstrom, Zappos and Amazon stand out because they make being easy to do business with a top priority. And they’ve set the tone for the level of service consumers expect in all their buying experiences—including the dentist’s office.
As a “yes” office, you’re in line with this same way of operating. You find creative ways to accommodate and be helpful to your patients, no matter the situation (as long as it doesn’t challenge you legally or morally). One great way to do this is to eliminate the word no from your interactions with patients, because it puts up walls and is the most unhelpful response you can give.
And the reality is, you may think of yourself as being a “yes” office but you probably have protocols in place that generate automatic “nos” to some of the questions your patients ask. For example, a patient asks if you take such-and-such insurance, and your answer is, “No, we don’t”—end of conversation. Or how about if you’re asked about available appointments during the holidays? The answer for many practices would be “No, we’re closed for two weeks.” The problem is, that time of year can be extremely convenient for patients to get their appointments in because of time off, school breaks, and insurance benefits that need to be used before year end.
When you make this shift, your response would instead sound something like, “We accept most insurances; however, we don’t work with this particular one. But we do have several financing options that many of our patients find helpful.” Or, “Yes, we are open during the holidays—let’s get you scheduled.”
Cultivating this type of mindset doesn’t just increase your production and revenue; it also leads you to a wealth of profitable business opportunities you never would have discovered otherwise. Bottom line: Get more creative about how you can meet patients’ needs rather than how you can’t.
Commit to being a student
This is a great time to be an independent practice owner, because you have an abundance of available resources to help you reach your full potential. You just need to actively reach out and take advantage of them. Every time you learn something new, you’ll create new opportunity for yourself.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel or make up anything from scratch. The blueprint is already there for you, created by successful practices that started out in your same position. So commit to learning from people around you—study successful processes and keep yourself open to continuously learning, because that’s the way you change behaviors and achieve your goals.
Plus, it’s important to make this investment in both yourself and your team. If you focus on improving only yourself, your team will hold you back; likewise, if you work on only their development, you will hold them back. You and your team become a cohesive unit that grows your practice only by soaking up knowledge together.
Also, with your learning and education, there has to be a balance between clinical and business management. The great misconception is that expanding only your clinical knowledge will translate into a more successful business. While your clinical training is important, it’s only part of the equation. Other doctors out there can do what you do. Today, what makes your practice stand out is a combination of your clinical capabilities and your ability to be an effective business owner driving growth. So in 2019, commit to dedicating equal time and money to developing both.
Challenge yourself to find a source of education or training that fits what you’re looking to accomplish, then put in the work to make 2019 your best year yet.