Are you a business owner or are you just “self-employed”?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to beta-test a lot of the topics in my upcoming seminars on quite a few dentists. Most of them have been existing practice owners. The feedback has been excellent and has really improved a lot of the content of what I will be presenting. One major theme that I’ve had come through is the difference between self employment and being a true business owner.

I think this is a really important distinction and I HOPE that other owners will weigh in.

I think self-employment is really what many dentists end up with when they think they are a business owner. It is really just a job but the difference is that you don’t have a boss. You are the boss…. but unfortunately, you are also the employee. It may be better than working for someone else because you have “autonomy” but I think many people end up working a lot more than they did when they were just an associate dentist. They really are a slave to their own “business”.

However, the true litmus test of having your own business is this. Will the “Business” run without you present? Can you leave for three months and everything will still run? Your clinical presence can be replaced easily – but can someone “run” your practice. Are there systems in place that facilitate this easily?

The key difference between a business owner and someone who is a “self-employed” dentist isn’t in their business acumen, it isn’t in their financial position or how well off they are… its certainly not a function of their intelligence or even their appetite for risk.

In my opinion it boils down to one thing and one thing only. It is the ability of a person to delegate. It is in their ability to acknowledge that in the pursuit of building a true business, they have to be able to trust well trained staff to acomplish their tasks effectively and without the need for constant supervision and oversight. It is their strong belief that automation of every aspect is the best way forward.

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