As toddlers, we were wide-eyed, wondrous, and fearless, willing and wanting to learn new things all day, every day. There were no limits to what we thought we could do if we just tried.
Unfortunately, most of us lose that passion for learning as we grow into adults. We become jaded because of things that haven’t worked. Instead of learning from those experiences, we consider them failures that reflect on our abilities and dampen our expectations about what’s possible. We lose the confidence to try anything outside our comfort zone.
Unlike toddlers, adults have the capacity to evaluate the intended results of potential returns on investments. Challenge your old assumptions and expectations; challenge your limits instead of projecting them. Only then can you learn to objectively assess ROIs and make investments that drive better results and more profitable growth.
Stop projecting your limits
Limiting yourself to your comfort zone restricts everything you think and do. You inadvertently project those limits onto your team and your patients and allow others to project their limits onto you. Here are some common examples of how limiting your challenges limits the potential of your business.
Limits on marketing
Whenever I ask clients why they don’t raise their marketing budget, they usually say they can’t afford it, or that they’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. Challenge your limits instead of limiting growth to your current level of new patients. A bigger investment will give you a bigger return.
Effective marketing campaigns—done correctly and combined with a high-performing team and efficient processes—will always give you a positive ROI when you factor in the long-term revenue impact of a new patient. If that hasn’t been true in the past, you just didn’t know how to do it well. Learn how to create, execute, and capitalize on great marketing campaigns instead of allowing your lack of confidence to limit your practice.
Limits on case acceptance
If past experiences have you believing that patients will only agree to treatment up to the limits of their insurance, you project that limit onto your patients. Challenge your limits! You’re the expert who knows what’s best for your patients’ health. Learn to present treatment plans that effectively communicate and positively influence patients to do what’s in their best interest. When you and your team learn to do this well, you will be amazed at how many of your patients willingly spend more out-of-pocket to look and feel their best.
Limits on team development and performance
- Team members unwilling to learn new behaviors and processes limit the performance of the overall team, the patient experience, and the potential of your practice. Allowing your team to project their limits is abdicating your responsibility as the business leader.
- Front desk team members who think patients won’t pay out-of-pocket beyond insurance torpedo your new-patient numbers by handling the first phone call in a way that projects that limit onto potential patients.
- If you think there aren’t enough good qualified candidates in your local labor pool, you limit your thinking by believing you can’t get the right people. Learn from others who have proven that it’s possible to recruit and retain talent in any job market.
- If you won’t hire associate doctors because you think your patients only want to see you, that inaccurate and egotistical attitude limits your business.
Limits projected by others
- Well-meaning family members and friends who advise against doing something that would grow the business are projecting their limits onto you because they can’t conceive of the potential ROI. Don’t let other people’s past challenges impose limits on your life and business.
- Don’t let your CPA project their limit onto you by advising that it’s better to minimize taxes instead of maximizing income.
- Don’t let banks and finance companies project their limits onto you about how long you should take to pay off debt to their benefit. If you think you can’t afford to make higher payments on your student loans, original equipment, or 20- to 30-year mortgage, challenge your limits about current income. Ask yourself, “What can I do to raise income so I can make higher payments?”
- Don’t let DSOs project their limits onto you by having you believe that as an independent practice owner, your potential for growth is so limited that you should sell out.
When you challenge your own limits and learn proven strategies (e.g., how to develop a high-performing team, deliver a great patient experience, increase new patients, increase case acceptance, and expand capacity), you gain the confidence to get out of your comfort zone and raise the limits on your growth and success.
Challenge yourself to make investments that improve results
Don’t be your own worst enemy by letting the past limit your future. Challenge your limits and challenge yourself to make investments that drive better results. Evaluate a potential ROI based on learning how to do something right; don’t be limited by past experiences in which you didn’t know better. Change your internal narrative from “I can’t” or “It won’t work” to “How can I?” and “What do I need to learn and do to get the ROI that I want and to get the same results others have proven possible?”
To do this, you must accept that there are things you don’t know. Join communities in which you’re exposed to others who have broken their limits and avail yourself of developmental coaching. The more you understand about what’s possible and how, the easier it becomes to challenge—and surpass—all your self-imposed limits.Editor's note: This article appeared in the December 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.