Will the 2016 election impact your dental practice?

Do you believe your dental practice will be affected by the upcoming election? Even if small business owners are developing a glum outlook, you do not need to be among them. Here's what you can do to survive!

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I’m seeing more lack of consumer confidence than I have in a long time, both in and outside of dentistry. So many people tell me that this is not a good time to invest in this or that, and I’ve started wondering why that is. After some research I have come to the conclusion that this year’s election has lots of people sitting on the fence. But rather than take sides, I’m going to pick on both sides, and I will not allow this to turn into a political piece.

While interviewing business owners about their concerns, a lot of people say they’re afraid of what will happen if the other party’s “bozo” is elected. While I can sympathize with this stance, when in history did we not have one “bozo” running against another? The reality is that it has been this way for a long time. But no doubt things change and evolve. We’ve had tough economic times and good ones.

This brings me to a case study I read about a business that started in tough economic times. In 1939, still during the Great Depression, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded HP in their garage with an investment of $538. Some of you may be thinking, “Sure, but that’s HP.” Back then it was not HP yet. No one had heard of it, and their first product was an audio oscillator. What is that?

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Another example: In 1969 at age 16, Michael Kittredge made his first scented candle in his garage out of melted crayons. Now nearly everyone has heard of the Yankee Candle Company. Finally, in 1994, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in his garage selling only books, and by 1997 he issued his IPO.

Now think about dentistry in 1985. What kind of dentistry were you doing? High tech? Esthetic? That’s the year that Prof. Werner H. Mormann invented CEREC. How much of a pipe dream was that in 1985?

As I sit here imagining what some of these people went through to start their businesses, and how fast they grew and evolved, I ask, “How concerned were they with the election and the tough economy? Or were they simply focused on pursuing their dreams?”

As I travel and meet successful and unsuccessful businesspeople everywhere, I see a theme. The most successful are obsessed with their plan for the future. They concern themselves little with external challenges. Notice I said “little” versus “not at all.” There is no doubt that external things can impact a business. The question is, how much do you let the external things have an impact, or do you come up with solutions to mitigate these challenges?

If you focus on what you’re for and not what you’re afraid of, you will likely see these things come true. So the question becomes not what will you focus on, but how will you focus your team? Will you allow them to debate which “bozo” is more likely to win the election and how the opposing one will screw up the world? Or will you focus them on whose health they can improve today? If you focusrelentlessly on who’s health you can improve today, what do yousuppose you will accomplish? I will say your level of financial success will improve, regardless of who wins the election.

The other option is to hunker down and wait to see if the sky falls. If it does, hunker down longer to try to survive. This doesn’t sound like a plan for prosperity to me. But you would be shocked at how many people I meet who are focused on their fears and not their plans.

No matter the election outcome, here are some ideas to prepare yourself and your practice, or how to recession-proof your dental practice. I think if you do these few items, you might find success is much closer than you think.
• Focus on what you want in life, not your fears about life.
• Stay in the here and now versus worrying about what might be.
• Figure out who you can help today.
• Find out what communication skills your team can improve on to improve their effectiveness, and teach them.

Watch Mr. Kaberna discuss the election and your practice here.


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Darren Kaberna started his first business at age 14. While in high school he invested his earnings in the stock market and was able to get through college in four years without any debt. He was hired by Patterson Dental before he graduated. He earned his MBA while working full time, and did consulting for companies such as GE as well as non-profits such as We Care Arts. He moved his family to Colorado and started his business over with Patterson Dental. He built it up quickly to become the top Patterson sales representative in Colorado.

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