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7 min readHow Do You Find a Healthy Balance in Dental Practice Ownership?

Carrie Webber

Avoid burnout by finding your balance.

According to a recent survey completed by the American Dental Association, half of all dentists are in solo practice as of 2017. If you are the only practice owner, chances are you know the toll it can take on your life. Most practice owners we speak with have said they find it difficult to find a healthy balance in their practice and avoid burnout. Many said they felt one or more of these emotions at one point in time, or perhaps even now:

  • Financial strain
  • Overwhelm
  • Lack of work/life balance
  • Lack of skill/knowledge in leadership & business acumen
  • Frustration with the current state of your practice
  • Exhaustion
  • Resentment
  • Isolation
  • Stress
  • Distress

Any of these sound familiar? These emotions are natural occurrences that may point to breakdown or lack of balance within the core structure and function of your company and your professional career.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. It shouldn’t be this way. The decision you have made to be an entrepreneur in the world of healthcare is an honorable and needed career path to be proud of, and given the right amount of focus, time, and training, you can balance out your practice’s performance to help yourself, your team, your patients, and your business. You can be healthier and happier.

We must face this discourse head-on, and it starts with asking ourselves—the business owners and practice leaders—the hard questions.

Here are those hard questions.

What is my purpose and vision for this practice, does my team know, and are we all on board?

This is actually four questions wrapped up into one! The point is if you don’t know why you are doing this and you don’t know where you are going, how can you even determine what work/life balance, financial health, or practice and personal well-being look like for you? And let’s face it, if you don’t know, your team doesn’t know. And if your team doesn’t know, how do you set healthy expectations for each of them as a high-performing player in your practice? How do you set and measure goals? How do you build a strong foundation?

You must start at the beginning. Set the standard. Communicate that standard clearly and consistently and check in regularly to make sure that the team you have is not only verbally on board for that purpose and vision, but they are also performing accordingly and you are heading in the right direction, together.

What is your compass? Be clear on your guiding principles.

What are the core values of my practice?

If you and your team do not work and communicate from a shared set of values, team disconnect and, in some cases, conflict can occur.

It’s important that all decisions for the practice—hiring, firing, purchasing, approach to care, facility—are evaluated with the question: if we do this, does it ultimately help us to pursue and support the purpose, mission, vision, and core values of the practice?

If you cannot answer yes to that question, I highly recommend you take another look and work on gaining clarity in your decision-making process. Get clear on the direction of your journey.

What are your practice metrics, and are they healthy?

 Are you measuring and in touch with the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your practice, and are you monitoring them on a regular basis? Have you set goals for your KPIs, and is your team aware of where you are now and what your goals are? Are they participating with you on the setting of these goals, the measuring of your results, and the accomplishment of the practice goals? The continuous monitoring and forecasting of your practice metrics can make a big difference in being prepared and proactive for what is to come, relieving you of inconsistency, stressful surprises, and the peaks and valleys that may leave you working late at the office any given Tuesday evening.

It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming chore to monitor your KPIs, either. We can help you streamline the process with Jameson Dash. It’s Jameson’s own practice metrics dashboard service.

“But Carrie,” you’re thinking, “I prefer to lead and work alone.”

If you are that person, there’s one fact I urge you to consider: you are limited by your own capacity. If you can make the effort and successfully involve your team more intentionally in the business of the practice, you will become what our founder Cathy Jameson termed a “group of leaders.” 

You can become a group of leaders working cohesively toward a common set of goals, and you will be less isolated, less stressed, less overwhelmed because you have people sharing the load with you. As a fellow business owner that is surrounded by a team of leaders helping to lead the purpose, mission, and vision of our company, I hope you will believe me when I say this to you: your strength and opportunity is in your team. Working together on your goals helps lead the whole practice into balance.

Ultimately, what I am saying to you is this: Delegate. Make a list of the elements of your business that only you can do, then delegate the rest. Build trust and opportunity within your team. Let them have a chance to thrive under your leadership and in turn, you will thrive as well.

What is the one decision or action I am avoiding that I know is holding me/the practice back?

Just by reading that question, I am confident that something, SOMETHING immediately came to mind. It may have been something, it may have been someone. Whatever it is, make the call. Make the decision. Move on what you know needs to be done. No matter how difficult, how scary, how hard—if it gets you “unstuck” from where you are now, do it. You are only dragging out your struggle, frustration, plateaued practice, stress. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to progress to where you want to be.

Work on your ONE THING today. DECIDE.

What are my goals and what is my next step?

If you are feeling any of the emotions I mentioned earlier as you reflect on your position as the owner of your practice, the only way to begin freeing yourself from those emotions is to begin making progress forward, no matter how small the steps are. Assess your current situation. Set goals. Determine what you can do in the next 24 hours, the next five minutes, however simple the next step may be. It’s your first step to a more fulfilling career!

Perhaps you can’t see the way forward. The steps you need to take to meet your goals aren’t clear. How do you evaluate the performance of your practice? Evaluating its performance is vital to refining your systems and creating better systems to help you and your team meet your goals. If you’re struggling to see the way forward, then consider taking the Jameson Rate Your Practice Exercise.  It can help guide you on where you need to focus your attention.

Sometimes you need a helping hand—more than you can get from an evaluation tool. Do you need help from outside professionals in a certain area of your practice? Do your homework, reach out to the right company for you, find mentors, experts, advisors,  and coaches to help you in your journey. Where are you now? Where do you want to go? How are you going to get there?

Determine your next steps and get moving!

Put it all together.

Find your balance. Find direction. Delegate more. Make decisions. Determine your next steps. Ask yourself the hard questions that need immediate answers. Take the time to gain the clarity you need to get off-center and get moving! The world needs the best of you, starting with your loved ones, your practice, your patients, and your team. You can do this. Get focused and keep moving forward.

Want to talk to a Jameson advisor about your practice and how we could support you and your business? Contact us today and let’s schedule a Jameson Discovery Call to learn more about where you are now and where you want to go. We look forward to the conversation.

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