Although dentistry may appear to be different than other types of businesses, in reality it is a business. And although this article is written from a dentist’s perspective on developing a successful practice, the principles can be used in virtually any business.
I have been in the dental industry for over 20 years and can proudly say I do have a highly successful business, also known as a practice. Over the years, I have learned many things that work in running a business and even more that do not. It is with this in mind that I share the following 7 keys to running a successful business. Regardless of your industry they can apply.
1. Have a vision.
One of the most important aspects of running any business is to have a clear vision of what you want that business to be like. What do you want to be known for in the marketplace? What kind of clients do you desire? What level of service do you want to provide? Do you want to be “one among many” or do you want to be considered a leader in your industry?
By answering these and many other similar type questions, you will gain insight into the direction you can, and should, take your business.
2. Develop a plan that ties into the vision.
Once you gain clarity on your vision, you must be willing to develop a plan. Far too often people have an idea of where they want their organization to be, but they fail to put together a usable plan. Take time to map out what needs to be done to achieve your outcomes.
3. Know your market.
One of the most important aspects of running any type of business is to know whom your market is. You can’t be all things to all people. Contrary to what some would like to believe, not everyone is his or her market. There is a very astute saying in marketing, “If everyone is your market, then no one is your market.”
The clearer you are on who you are targeting the easier it will be to focus your efforts on reaching those individuals and/or companies.
4. Gain visibility within your market.
Take a very focused approach to reaching your market. Just because you have determined who your market it, doesn’t mean you are done. You must now be willing to have a very focused approach to targeting your market. Whether that be through direct mail, advertising, newsletters, informational seminars or any number of methods, you have to be willing to keep your name in front of your market.
5. Get your team on board.
This is probably one of the most crucial and yet, often most overlooked aspects of running a business. You have to make sure your team knows what is going on. Holding regular staff meetings as a means to keep people informed is a great way to gain the buy in of your team. Additionally, be open to ideas that may come from your team members.
It will be very difficult to achieve your long-term goals if your team members either don’t understand your vision or haven’t bought into it. When you hire people, make sure they understand what you are trying to achieve. Whether you are dealing with new members of the team or seasoned folks, everyone must be willing to be a part of the plan. When they are, you will have a much greater chance for success.
6. Be consistent.
Running and marketing a business is an ongoing process. The greatest mistake people make in virtually any industry is they try something once and expect instant results. You must be in this for the long haul. Sure, with some of your marketing strategies you will get instant, or direct, response. However, with most approaches, it is more like the tortoise and the heir. In the short-term it looks like the heir is in the lead, but the reality is he is burning himself out and ends up losing to the tortoise who had a consistent and long-term vision.
7. Realize – you change lives.
One of the things I most love about dentistry is I know I change lives. I recognize this beyond a shadow of a doubt. When my patients are able to obtain the smile they once only dreamed of because of what I did for them, I know I am doing my life’s work.
With most people, regardless of the industry you are in, in some way you do change lives. If you know that, your job is very rewarding.
Think about the end user of your product or service. What is it about what you provide that makes a difference for them? If you don’t know, ask your customers. You may be pleasantly surprised. It is in the answers you can become clearer and clearer as to your vision and the benefits you bring to others through the services you provide.
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