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a blog by Chris Barrow


I’m getting a bit bored with consultants turning up in dentistry and announcing that they are going to save the profession in some way, because they have spent years consulting elsewhere, in an office, a factory or another sector of business. Don’t get me wrong – I have some core values:

  1. competition stimulates demand (I welcome more business coaches in dentistry)

  2. there’s plenty for all of us

  3. I’m always happy to reach down and lift up an enthusiast – because people did that for me 15 years ago – so I pay it forward

  4. what I do and the way that I do it will not appeal to everyone

BUT Yesterday a phone call with a referral from one of my existing clients (a dentist) to an accountant (I think) who specialises in tax mitigation schemes. Now I need you to know that I was in financial services for 25 years and that in the 80’s I specialised in tax mitigation schemes. Not many people know that – but all they have to do is ask. I was arranging forestry and enterprise zone tax shelters before many of you were born – I know that business – and I know the risks and rewards. Said telephone contact just piles with:

  1. I know all about tax shelters and you don’t

  2. I know your clients will love it

  3. By the way it’s not illegal or shady (I wasn’t thinking it was, until you mentioned it)

  4. So perhaps we could (wait for it) “meet up and see how we can work together”

I suggest that I’ll happily publish an article in my ezine if he sends me some copy. I respectfully point out that I do not accept introducers fees or commissions. He suggests that:

  1. it’s way too complicated to write an ezine article and

  2. he doesn’t want to give away his intellectual property so

  3. can we meet

The answer in my head, of course, is “not a bloody chance – have you seen my diary?” But how would he know that? If John Cleese were making an audio about how not to run a phone call with a potential Strategic Alliance partner – this would be it. No attempt to get to know me whatsoever. I’m sorry to be so uncharacteristically negative – but I just hear the words of Eric Cantona when these people arrive on the scene. Trawlers – people who know how to go out and get business for themselves and make the bloody effort to put themselves about (whether you like them or not). The old-timers

  1. Chris Barrow

  2. Ashley Latter

  3. Sheila Scott

  4. Kevin Lewis

  5. Dr Bob


  1. Laura Horton

  2. Mark Oborn

  3. Emma John

  4. James Goolnik

Ed: neither list is complete so don’t feel put out if you are not there Seagulls – people who don’t know how to get clients and want to “meet up for coffee and see how we can work together”. A euphemism for “I haven’t got any clients but I’ve got ideas – you’ve got clients.” It’s a clear sign that UK dentistry is experiencing a boom year – when the seagulls show up – and they are swarming as we speak. I’ve heard the tax shelter conversation a thousand times over the years:

  1. forestry

  2. enterprise zones

  3. gold bars

  4. Brazilian eco-credits

  5. film partnerships

  6. employee benefit trusts

I even had a client in the 80’s who ran a contract cleaning company and bought a North Sea trawler for the tax right offs. You have to be a special type of person to get into this. First – a weight lifter – to carry the two briefcases you will need for the rest of your career – one for your business and the other for your tax papers. Second – a very high risk tolerance – speak to any dentist who got be-dazzled into film partnerships a few years ago. Third – balls of steel when interviewed by the Revenue. I’m a poacher turned gamekeeper – maybe its my age. I’d prefer to pay my taxes and sleep. Watch out for seagulls – it’s really hard to clean up the mess they leave.

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