Monday, August 2, 2010

Two sides of the same coin

Okay, funny kid stuff:

My 5 year old daughter was playing by herself in her room with her dolls. She is the only one of my 3 children to have the ability to play by herself, and is also the only one to play with dolls. -I digress- She is very imaginative and expressive and oftentimes Susan or I will eavesdrop on her and enjoy her role-playing. Last week she was playing "Cooking Show." Don't ask me where she got that idea from - like I said, she is very imaginative. So she ended the episode like this: "If you would like more information about the recipies we talked about on today's show go to" It is a new generation, boys and girls.

If you hadn't noticed, I have been pretty spotty about posting for the last month or so. I had a good friend ask me about it the other day (implying that he missed the witty reparte - right) and I told him what I will tell you - it is a weird responsibility to be one of the AGD bloggers (albeit the lesser one), and when all I feel like posting is depressing crap, I sometimes follow my mom's advice and don't say anything at all.

That being said, I have been reading Dr. G.'s posts and feel like I need to get back in the groove of bringing ya'll down every Monday with some small business owner reality. I have been wrestling for the past couple of months with this question: Is my business successful? Seems like a simple question, right? But here is the rub - how do you define "business," and how do you define "success?"

Now, the 2nd definition would seem to be the more obvious and, as everyone knows, varies based on the person. So let me start there. Am I successful because I still open my doors to see patients 4 days a week after 3 years, 10 months and 20 days since embarking on this adventure? Am I successful because I employ 4 staff members (having created 4 jobs that did not exist 4 years ago)? Am I successful because I have 1,300 active patients?... I could go on and on with dental practice metrics, but you get the point. If I were to ask people to look at my practice and give it a thumbs up/down based on measurable, visual parameters, I would be a success.

>However, I am not just a dentist who owns a practice - I am a business owner. And that role measures success differently. Am I a success even though I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in total debt? Am I a success even though my schedule is not as full as it could be? Am I a success even though my production is down in July '10 versus July '09? Am I a success even though I can't offer my staff any ancillary benefits?...

And I haven't even gotten into the definition of a business. I mean, what is a "dental business?" By all accounts, I am a very good dentist. I am not going out and giving seminars on dentistry, mind you, but I am damn good at what I do. I am extremely caring, compassionate, considerate, technically good, etc. But I am also constantly paying bills at or slightly after their due dates. I make judgment calls on which bill will be OK to wait on until next month. I struggle to bring home more so that my family can have less stress. I struggle with how to schedule - do we continue to grow and add more hygiene hours or do we start more of a long-term stability business model?...

All of those things go on in my head - and in the head of every business owner - all the time. This is why I like that you get to hear from Dr. G. more than me. I am not considering buying a new piece of equipment; in fact, I am praying that all of my existing equipment doesn't break down because I don't have the money to fix it. You are getting two sides of the coin with John and I. A profitable, long-standing dental practice in a transition and a new dental practice in its infancy. Both are dealing with this economy and struggling in their own ways - but as the infant, I dream of the day that I will feel the pinch of the economy and wonder whether I can finance a $75,000 purchase.

In the meantime, I will continue doing what I do. I will continue to kick myself for taking off a week during a hot streak because the rest of July was spent catching up on income and I am already planning for next July, when, with the 4th of July holiday and the AGD Annual Meeting, I will be working all of 12 days.

I better go now, I feel the energy to face the pile of bills and that is a rare feeling. Now I just have to wait until the mail gets here to see if we have money to pay any of them... 1 more week until payroll...

Have a great week!


Matthew said...

I *totally* sympathize with you.

Anonymous said...

I remember those days....I think you will be able to come out of the "I need funds to make payroll" stage long before I did. It took years for me because I was crazy...I bought land and built an office and equipped it on a production of 1220/mo. This was in 1989, but that still is pretty low! I think my banker was also crazy. But it has all worked out well in the end. My debt is 1/3 what it was and is manageable. The practice is stable; not growing leaps and bounds like 5 yrs ago, but surviving nicely. I dont think I have extraordinary business skills, just great dental skills, some talent at HR and LOTS of persistence. I keep remembering that old saying "Many times the race is won simply by the person who keeps on running after all the others have quit" Hang in there; your blogs are NOT depressing. I am sure you have lots of company. Cindi Becker DDS MAGD


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