Tony’s 7 keys to transforming your practice into a thriving business
The paths of most medical professionals, like dentists, physicians and chiropractors, pose a conundrum. These individuals go through immense amounts of schooling, and then they work years – if not decades – to acquire the technical acumen and artistic skill they need to be successful at their chosen craft.
And then, after dedicating this massive amount of time and effort, many take the entrepreneurial route, choosing to start their own private practice. It’s an entirely new journey, with a whole new set of skills – this time, in business. But where along the way did they learn how to become business owners? Where were they taught how to grow their practice and take it to the next level? For many, it’s the biggest (or only) gap in their education.
Tony specializes in helping these types of business owners learn the core principles of business. At Business Mastery, he provides the tools and strategies for business growth and also the foundational psychology they need to lead their team. For medical professionals, though, he has custom advice. Here are Tony’s keys to growth specifically for medical practices, taken from a recent interview he had with MedMark CEO Lisa Moler,
The first thing you have to realize is that the chokehold on the growth of any business is always the owner. And while 20% of that chokehold may come down to mechanics of running a business, a staggering 80% has to do with your psychology – that is, your own fears, limits and stories about why your practice isn’t where you want it to be.
Most people think that they need to redirect their focus toward new strategies to make real change. But while strategy is absolutely important, it’s the wrong sequence to start with. What’s the strategy for being fit and healthy? It’s not that complex, yet 70% of Americans are technically considered overweight. Because it’s not a strategy problem; it’s a mindset problem.
Take a moment and think about your perceived limitations. (It might help to think of them as “reasons” you can’t achieve something. For medical practice owners, here are some of the common ones we’ve heard:
It’s easy to throw your hands up and say, “I’ve tried everything.” But if you keep saying that, then you will undoubtedly convince yourself that your growth is limited. The reality is, the only limits that exist are the ones that you create for yourself, and it is those that prevent you from reaching your business goals. Once you come to understand what your limiting beliefs are, you can begin to shed those constructs.
It’s time to decide that you are no longer going to tolerate the way you’ve run your practice in the past. It’s time to decide that you deserve more. Your staff deserves more, too, and they deserve to see that there is a different way. Step out of the state of learned helplessness and resolve that you are going to arm yourself with the tools and strategies necessary to make real, lasting change in your practice.
You worked hard to earn the title of “Dr.” – But it’s time to step out of that title and into the one of “CEO.” You are not just a doctor or a dentist, you are also a business owner, and you have your own brand to build. And to do so, you must make constant and consistent strides to innovate and market your practice.
Innovation means finding a better way to meet your clients’ needs than anybody else. Anybody can make some money for a certain amount of time. But if you want to become successful and sustain that success over years or over decades – if you want to build a sustainable brand that you can pass down to your colleagues, children, or be able to sell to a competitor for a great price – then you have to find a way to add more value than anybody else in your space.
Marketing is equally important. Even if you are massively talented with a wealth of knowledge and skill, if you cannot find a way to market your service, then your business will have a hard time getting off the ground. Because the best product or service doesn’t always win. Do you think McDonald’s has the best burger? Probably not. What about Nike? Are their shoes and apparel really that high quality? Not necessarily. But the marketing strategies of these two companies are top-notch.
That’s why you need to understand what your “X-factor” is. You have to know what value you bring – what you are here to deliver and how you can improve your customer’s life.
Your business has a purpose. And that purpose has nothing to do with you – it’s about your customer. Don’t fall in love with your product or your service, fall in love with your customer, or even your ideal customer.
Understand who your customers are: What do they want? What do they fear? What do they desire and how do you meet those needs for them? How can you give them the experience that they want?
Answering these questions will allow you to create a culture where every single employee in your practice will know that is your purpose – and you will collectively be able to add more value than anyone else. Forget about having satisfied customers. Satisfied customers will go away when a better offer comes along. What you want is a raving fan. You have to over-deliver in a way that makes you irreplaceable to them. When you can do this, you will be able to make your way towards dominating the marketplace.
It’s not the person that you hire that will make a difference in your business, it’s the person that you fail to fire that will take a toll. That’s why it’s so important to hire slow and fire fast. The sooner you part ways with employees who aren’t the right fit, the better. Most of us, however, do the opposite. We hire quickly to fill the position when we really should be taking our time to determine if the candidate has the right nature, the right personality and whether or not their core values align with those of the company. Then we are slow to let the person go, even though we know in our gut that it isn’t working.
Consider the person working your front desk. When hiring, you may have focused more on whether or not they were capable of handling logistics, and if they were pleasant enough, then you deemed them the right fit. But even if they are nice and can handle the position’s duties, if they aren’t able to truly connect with people, they may actually be hurting your business. Interface is everything in that role.
So rather than settling for people who just get the job done, refuse to have nothing less than superstars in all positions. You will not only find that it is more efficient and effective for you, but your business and, ultimately, for that person in their own career.
Consider Apple. Apple was in a slump until they transitioned into building simple, cool technology that connected people to what they love. Before long came the iPod and iTunes, then the iPhone and the iMac. Their net sales soared. And since that point, Apple has never stopped innovating, and their marketing campaigns have helped propel the company to an entirely new realm.
Now consider Zappos. Zappos disrupted the shoe business by creating an online market that offered free delivery and free returns. While many scoffed at the business model, arguing that it was sure to flop and force Zappos into bankruptcy, founder Tony Hsieh knew that the offer he was creating was so irresistible that it would succeed. He was right; Zappos has since achieved enormous success.
How important was it for these companies to change their offers? It was monumental. They were able to completely transform their business, and the landscape of the industry. So step back and ask yourself what you can do to elevate your game. Does the answer lie in innovation or marketing? Or what about making an offer so irresistible that they customer can’t deny it? Remember: Change your offer, change your business – change your business, change your life.
One of the most important questions you can ask is, “What business are you in?” And then step back and really consider what value you want to provide the customer. For example, Zappos is not in the shoe business – they are in the business of “creating happiness.” And Apple is not in the tech business, they are in the business of connecting people with their favorite things: music, photos and other people they like. So if you are a dentist, you are not in the teeth business, but perhaps you are in the business of creating smiles, or lighting people up. Whatever it is, you have to find something that is your mission. So when anyone asks you about it, instead of talking about the process, you talk about the value that you bring.
People don’t care about the process; they care about what they ultimately get. Focus on the result, not the path you must take to achieve that result. If they go to the dentist or the doctor, they don’t want to focus on the pain and the process. They want to think about the fact that they are going to get the most beautiful smile of their life.
So focus on what business you are really in, and make it a core component of your company’s culture. That way, you will be able to immerse your customer in the experience you want to create from the very beginning, and, eventually, turn them into a raving fan.
You have to decide what is most important to you and what you are doing all this for. If you’re just doing it for the money, you’re eventually going to burn out. Because no matter how much money you make, if you aren’t fulfilled, then you will never be happy. Remember, success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.
So you have to ask yourself what you don’t want to give up on – why did you get into the business originally? What is it that you really want? What lights you up? The answer will be different for every single one of you – but the common denominator is always the same: it’s living life on your terms. And the clearer that you can get on that, the more inspired and driven you will be to grow your practice. Because it becomes a vehicle to achieving happiness, and bringing you fulfillment.
There is no worse fate than to achieve everything but not be fulfilled. Make the decision today to create an extraordinary life. Make it a point to stop and celebrate your success and acknowledge your accomplishments. But at the same time, make it a priority to find what brings you passion and joy and how your practice fits into that. When you understand the merits of the science of achievement and the art of fulfillment, then you can start to make the shifts that lead to real, lasting change in your business – and in your life.
Header image © Shutterstock / Guschenkova