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Are You Making This Business Mistake? By: Dr. Kathryn Alderman

Articles, Practice Life

2022 was a big year for many reasons. On one hand, I managed to figure out the magic formula for successfully running multiple dental practices. By connecting the dots in this way, I got to see all seven of my locations flourish financially, even in spite of the recession, post-COVID 19 recovery, and labor shortages.

On the other hand, however, I also realized what my biggest mistake had been, one that many other dental professionals can relate to: focusing too much on dentistry, and not enough on self-care.  Many professionals make this mistake too, and while they might be putting in more hours, they are actually holding themselves back. Chances are, when overworking yourself, you will find it far more difficult to reach the success you deserve. Being successful at your maximum capacity can absolutely be achieved while still prioritizing self-care.

When I discovered that I was guilty of making this error myself, I corrected it – instead of overworking myself, I gave myself time to rest. Doing this allowed me to achieve the best year of running my multi-location practice without any burnout or stress.

 

How self-care and good business strategy relate to one another

As dentists, we take care of both our patients and our teams. We perform tedious procedures that require lots of attention and focus, and then in between those procedures, we have to find the time to take care of the business responsibilities as well. At the end of the day, we are rightfully tired, but for many of us we have yet another job waiting at home: our families, which require their own care and attention.

The amount of energy that we spend taking care of people is consuming, and when we fail to prioritize taking care of ourselves on top of it, we feel drained and burnt out. When we don’t prioritize self-care, several other things become harder too:

• Being the best leader we can be

• Making good business decisions

• Being creative, and finding the best solutions to our problems

• Remaining healthy and vibrant

• Remaining physically and emotionally strong

 

What does self-care entail?

On a basic level, self-care can be as simple as treating yourself to healthy, tasty meals instead of always resorting to takeout and greasy fast food. It also means sleeping well, making time for exercise, looking after your physical health and nutrition, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance where you can still find time to do everything you love, and take care of the people you love, while working.  Self-care might also mean going to Mexico for two weeks and drinking piña coladas when things become too much.

On a more serious note, it could mean getting your blood work done every three months. Regardless of how you do it, self-care is a way to hack into your
potential by taking better care of your own health. You have more power when you are healthy and fulfilled. By making sure to recharge your batteries properly, you will make better decisions overall, show up as your best self for your patients and your team, and do a far better job of leading others.

Due to my own experiences, I have come to view self-care as the “secret formula” which will exponentially propel a business owner’s
success. Through self-care, you can begin to clear your mind, gain mastery over your own emotions and much more.

 

My personal story, and how I finally stopped making this mistake.

I came to the United States as a poor immigrant, hungry for both food and success. Due to what I had experienced leading up to that point in my life, I was willing to work non-stop to become successful, and to never be hungry again.

After completing dental school, I decided that my ultimate goal would be to develop a multi-location dental practice.

I juggled all of the pieces that typically went into running a successful dental practice: marketing, HR, paying overhead and other business-centered responsibilities, while simultaneously performing highly complex dental procedures all day long, with no time for lunch or anything else in-between.

I was also hustling and bustling back home – I had a teenager and two babies to take care of, after all. Sometimes, that care became a two-way street: there were days when I would sit in the parking lot, crying, left with no option but for my teenager to pick me up because I was too tired to drive myself home. Unsurprisingly, I found myself extremely tired and unhappy at the end of each day.

While my problems at the time weren’t simple, they all derived from one common denominator: a lack of focus on myself and my own health. I had instead been prioritizing production, how much I could fit on my schedule, and everything else that would ensure that I achieved the success that I had once so eagerly dreamed about. This unforgiving lifestyle didn’t just affect my health and my home life, however – it also affected the success of my practice. My deep,
chronological exhaustion led to lackluster business decisions. I am sure that I wasn’t the easiest person to work with, either. I knew that if I wanted a responsible and engaged team that was just as motivated as I was, I had to set an example. In this burnt-out and exhausted state that I describe, that simply was not possible. I realized that it had to change, and believe it or not, I was finally able to make that change once I made the decision to take care of myself better.

The things that I began to prioritize were:

• Getting enough sleep at night.

• Surrounding myself with supportive people.

• Getting enough rest, too – this doesn’t just mean sleep!

• Eating lots of clean food and lots of vegetables.

• Taking the correct vitamins and supplements.

• Keeping myself hydrated with plenty of water.

• Working out daily.

• Keeping better track of my health with routine blood work.

• Taking time out of each day to do the things that I love.

• Making sure to stop working by 6pm each day.

 

When I fixed this business mistake, I was amazed at the results. Not only did I feel better, but my success improved exponentially, in multiple ways. The results of prioritizing self-care are amazing, and no matter who you are or what stage you are at in your own dental
career, taking better care of yourself will help you see far greater results. With proper self-care, you will find it far easier to:

• Provide better and stronger leadership.

• Come up with more creative, more successful marketing strategies.

• Create a positive business culture at your practice.

• Make better business decisions overall.

• Create better business systems for your practice.

• Find more creative solutions to the problems that you and your practice face.

• Develop better business operations.

• Stay healthy, vibrant, and physically strong.

• Find creative HR solutions to both existing and

• Both feel and look great future problems.

 

Are you making the same mistake that I made? Are you focusing too much on dentistry, and too little on self-care?

If the answer to that question is yes, I implore you to center your plan for 2023 around ensuring that self-care is a part of your daily routine. You will be more successful at work and reach better decisions and results.  We all need time to properly recharge our batteries. Protect your energy levels, and instead of running out of steam, make sure that you stay recharged so that you can become the best version of yourself. It is crucial to make this non-negotiable, and to refuse to let anybody take it away from you – not even your kids, your spouse, or your best friend. Because, the truth is, every one of those people will benefit greatly from you bettering yourself. In my opinion, self-care is even more important than taking business classes, working extra
hours, or surrounding yourself with a great team.

In fact, I believe that self-care is the “business decision” that you absolutely need to
make. By doing so, your business will have a great leader, you, that will no doubt lead them to the next level.

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