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a blog by Chris Barrow

The Self-Managing Dental Business

To repeat a point made a few days ago, I'm involved in lots of conversations at the moment about:

  1. Associates who want to become Owners and

  2. Owners who want to become Associates

It's comical that both communities see the grass as being greener on the other side of the fence.

There is, however, a third category - small in numbers but growing steadily.

Those who want to reduce or eliminate both their clinical time and their management time - but they don't want to sell.

This gives rise to the phenomenon known as The Self-Managing Dental Business.

In Thursday's "5 a day" video blog, I mentioned the Principal who has decided to live permanently in India and wants me to help her create a management team to run her practices in absentia.

That isn't as hard as it sounds in 2020, as we can combine robust systems with cloud-based technology to ensure that, not only does the work get done but that the overseas owner can be connected in real time to every aspect of the business.

You could equally become a virtual owner from your holiday home - or simply from your home office.

The KPI for an associate-led dental business is 15% net profit before tax - it's for you to decide whether that's enough (seems like a good deal to me if you are working ON the business for a few hours a week from the comfort of your chosen location).

Of course, if it were that easy, many more would do it - and the corporates might not be cleaning up, the way they seem to be at the moment, as many choose to escape from COVerload.

So what's stopping The Self-Managing Dental Business from appearing in larger numbers?

The challenge is LEADERSHIP.

Quick revision:

  • Management is about creating robust systems

  • Leadership is about creating environments in which people feel inspired to do their best

But, there's a "but":

  • Managers manage systems (and can sometimes be poor at leadership).

  • Leaders create environments (and can often be poor at management).

If you decide to become a remote Owner, how do you replace yourself as the leader?

The clue is in the title - it's a Self-Managing Dental Business, it's not a Self-Led Dental Business, because there is no such thing.

Whether you are living overseas, on the coast or in your lounge, you cannot escape the responsibility of leadership - and if you don't want to take that on, you would be better selling.

It might also explain why some very good leaders sell and then regret the decision and, as soon as they are able, set up in business again.

If you enjoy leading, why sell your practice for the equivalent of 4 or 5 years earnings at 25% net profit, when you could keep it for 10-20 years at 15% (and then sell it, or pass it on)?

It's an interesting thought isn't it?

I'm currently developing a programme (due early next year) for those who are interested in building The Self-Managing Dental Business - drop me an email at if you would like to be kept informed.

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