10 Things I Have Learned About Business

Dr. Toni Surace, Managing Director and CEO of Momentum Management

I’ve been running my own businesses ever since I was 14. I started by making my own perfume with crushed flower petals squashed into bottles and then started a stall at a craft market and sold my handcrafted goods there. I have always been fascinated by business and the transactions that occur along with the dance of a sale. I’ve worked in the family restaurant and catering businesses since I was old enough to talk. I’ve seen business done well and also not so well.

A dental practice is just a business that provides dentistry as a service. It is a fairly predictable and straight forward business to run, especially if you can work out what an ideal day is and then repeat it, often! But perhaps this advice is over-simplistic.

Over the last decade, I’ve been involved with multiple businesses. Some of them were raging successes. Some were failures. In the process, I learned a lot about myself, and the business world in general.

Here are the things I have learned, that have applied to all my business ventures (and probably yours too!).

1. People won’t necessarily understand you or what you are doing.

Unless they have owned a business themselves, friends and family will more than likely think you are crazy when you start locking yourself away on weekends, making business plans and acting like an accountant. They don’t necessarily understand that your business is your baby and that you are totally engrossed by it and that it needs attention 24/7 to grow! This is totally normal and to be expected.

2. You will have lots of AMAZING ideas, lots of which will fail or never get off the ground.

Failure is a part of life, and even more so for the everyday business person. The thing about entrepreneurs is that their brain is always switched ‘on’. As practice owners we are always looking for the next great marketing idea or system to streamline to make our practices more efficient. You are likely to try a lot of things that won’t work. Keep trying, keep tweaking and create it with a dash of your personal flavourings and spices. To work, it needs to fit you like a glove! You need to fail to succeed. You will have failed strategies, failed plans, and failed relationships. Once again, this is totally NORMAL!

3. Failure leads to success.

Just like the song says, when you fail at something, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. Success will be there waiting in the shadows. I promise! Please don’t let the fear of failure stop you from trying. Jump in with both feet! It will be worth it.

4. Ask and you shall receive.

You are part of the Universe. The Universe wants you to succeed but you need to let it know what success looks and feels like to you. You need to verbalise what you want and you need to give gratitude for what you receive. The Universe may not always make sense to us immediately but everything that happens, happens for a reason.

5. If unsure, seek help from people around you.

Set yourself up for success; surround yourself with a ‘herd’ of people that think the same way as you and want the same things. This doesn’t need to be a dental herd and, to be honest, the best results are achieved when you look outside of your peers and colleagues. Find a mentor or a coach that is going to help you see clearly when there is fog. You are going to get fog sometimes and thunder and lightning and drought and flood. Your coach will be there for you through thick and thin. All the best athletes and best business people have coaches to push themselves to a successful career. Don’t you think you deserve one too??

6. Work on collaborations to help your business grow.

Work with people who have done what you want to do before you. No use reinventing the wheel. Get tried and true systems and procedures in place and once they are working, expand on them in your own way. Don’t let yourself think this is cheating and that you need to do it the hard way. A lot of business owners are introverts and would rather spend time on their laptops than socialising. Some socialising however is necessary and of benefit to your business. Collaborate with other businesses in your local area, community groups and sporting facilities. The more you get out there the more your business will grow.

7. Have useful beliefs.

We have all had those days where nothing is going right and it seems impossible to feel optimistic. It’s important that we ask ourselves when we feel like this, “Is this a useful belief?’ Practicing useful beliefs, is so much better than positive thinking. I don’t know if you are the same, but my mind argues with me when I try and think positive thoughts, so much so that they don’t work. I find it better to rationalise with myself by asking if the thought is useful. It will improve your day, snap you out of the ‘poor me’ mindset and set you up for success.

8. Speak in your own voice.

I’ve witnessed a lot of practices fizzle out and die because they were trying to be something very different to themselves. If you don’t like going to a spa, don’t set up a ‘Spa’ Dental practice even if it is working for the person down the road. The practices that fail have often mimicked what other successful practices were doing, only to have that completely backfire on them- the model wasn’t true to who they were. So please, be authentic to who you are and what you believe. Don’t be afraid of “doing it wrong” or having people not like you. You can’t please everyone and you don’t get anywhere by copying someone else (but of course, as per my advice on collaborations, you can “borrow” inspiration that suits your own voice!). Just be you.

9. You won’t be liked by everyone.

If you are anything like me, having everyone like me is important. This was a belief that started to ruin my life until I came to terms with the fact that it just didn’t matter. Please don’t think that you can work a certain way that will make everyone like you. There will always be people that don’t like you and don’t agree with what you have to say, both in business and in life. Don’t sweat it. Focus on those that truly matter and care about you. The sooner you realise this, the better your life will be.

10. If you want different results, you need to try something different.

Making the same poor choices, or implementing the same failing systems or processes over and over and expecting different results is just plain INSANE! If you really want to improve and achieve, you need to set your mind towards the goal. Focus on your mindset, visualise winning and set a plan in place to achieve your goal. Once you have worked out how to get good results try it. If it works, repeat it. OFTEN!

A dental practice owner’s life has many ups and downs (more ups than downs, though, usually!), and it’s a great life to live! One thing I’ve noticed in the last 30 years though, is that you never really know exactly what’s going to happen next. And that’s kind of the best part, don’t you think?