In his celebrated work, The E-Myth Revisited, author and business coach Michael Gerber (inspiring me by still going strong at age 80) describes three categories of business owner:
- The Technician – whose unique ability is their technical proficiency in a chosen field (specialist dentist/coach);
- The Manager – whose unique ability is to manage and lead a team (of dentists/coaches) and
- The Entrepreneur – whose unique ability is to leverage time, money and people to create a scaleable business (the micro-corporate)
In The E-Myth Dentist I had the honour to collaborate with Michael on identifying how these three types manifest themselves in dentistry (p.s. I don’t get royalties from sale of either book so this isn’t an advert).
Gerber points out that these three categories can actually manifest themselves to differing degrees in one individual – imagine, if you will, an experienced implantologist who also owns a 7-chair multi-disciplinary practice and has plans to buy/open satellites.
However, those business polymaths are few and far between and although working with them is a blast, there aren’t enough of them in the UK and Ireland to call them a genre – they are, perhaps, the X-Men and Women of dentistry, possessing special powers to survive and prosper.
The three types exist in rapidly descending proportions:
- The majority of owners are Gerber’s “managers”, with 3 to 6 chairs offering general or specialist dentistry – they complain about the frustrations of managing people and dream of becoming entrepreneurs (their people managed by somebody else) or technicians (no people to manage)
- A much smaller group are Gerber’s “technicians”, career associates who specialise and can often be found travelling around their region in the inevitable Range Rover Sport – they complain that their Principals are building goodwill based partly on their own efforts and dream of owning their own practice someday and becoming managers (they think that managing people will be tolerable – because they have never done it)
- Then Gerber’s “entrepreneurs”, a sparsely populated and disparate tribe of those who have, in some cases, stopped clinical dentistry to focus on their empire-building – they complain about goodwill values and about the trials and tribulations of practice acquisition, valuation, due diligence and integration of new teams. They dream of selling up and becoming technicians again so that they no longer have to manage time, people and money
As a member of my tribe, you will know that on Saturday I’ll be attending the inaugural meeting of FIDES, co-created by former Dean of the FGDP, Trevor Ferguson and his accountant and MD son Aaron to establish a forum for those who either are or aspire to be dental entrepreneurs. I’m there as a volunteer supporter and observer and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the present and future landscape in the UK and Ireland.
My comments on Saturday will be predictably controversial and I have my fingers crossed that this forum will get off the runway as I think the entrepreneur tribe need a voice in the current marketplace.
In the meantime, my work goes on, day to day, in conversation will all three categories.
Last night I enjoyed a complimentary conversation with a very well established “technician” (in this case implantologist) whose opening question was “should I buy a practice?”
Today I’ll be meeting, for the first time, the owner (“manager”) of a small independent practice who has a much bigger future and wants some assistance in building financial and marketing systems.
This afternoon, I’ll the with an 11-location micro-corporate to continue training a new marketing team.
The title of this post is “your destiny”.
Sometimes my advice to people is to accept their destiny and make the best of it.
Did you notice earlier that all three categories invest time in dreaming about what it would be like to move up or down a category?
A classic case of seeing apparently greener grass when, as a sage once said, the only reason that grass on the other side of a fence seems greener is because someone is dealing with more fertiliser on a daily basis.
There is no right category – I’ve learned over the years that we are destined to be one of the three and, at great personal expense, I’ve also learned that trying to chase the greener grass of another category leads to frustration, stress, exhaustion, unhappiness and, sometimes costs a lot of money that you will never see again.
Personally, through repeated pain and suffering (I’m a slow learner) that’s how I’ve come to realise that I’m destined to be a technician – and I’ve now learned to love with it (no typo there).
Loving what you do is better than trying to live somebody else’s destiny.