Big Dental Practices Can’t Afford “Stupid”

Did you ever see the 1988 classic movie “Big” with Tom Hanks? Recently I was at a workshop in Santa Monica and I saw one of the Zoltar machines as seen in the movie, which reminded me of the story.

The story follows Josh, a 12-year-old boy who, after making a wish at a carnival fortune-telling machine, wakes up the next day as a 30-year-old man.

As an adult, Josh initially struggles to find a job and a place to live, but he eventually lands a job at a toy company where he excels in his work, thanks to his unique perspective as a child trapped in an adult’s body. He also falls in love with his coworker Susan, but their relationship becomes complicated as Josh’s true identity is revealed.

The film explores the themes of childhood, adulthood, and the importance of staying true to oneself. It was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $151 million at the box office and receiving numerous award nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Tom Hanks.

Which begs the question, do you want to be BIG, or just profitable?

Too many practice owners today are running around scared. Scared of competition, DSOs, insurance and a race to the bottom in price. But you don’t have to participate. Big can be good, but big alone does not make someone better.

One of my absolute favorite business books of all time is The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham. Keith is an entrepreneur and author who has helped thousands of businesses worldwide. In his book, he shares valuable insights on how to avoid “stupid” mistakes and improve business performance. Here are six key principles from his book that you can implement in your practice today, to avoid “stupid” and costly mistakes:

  1. Clarify your thinking: Understand the importance of clear thinking to make smart decisions. Take the time to think through your practice profit an growth problems and identify the root causes. Use “thinking time” 2-3 days a week for 20-50 minutes to brainstorm ideas, ask questions, and develop a plan of action. I promise it can be some of the most productive and profitable time you spend each week.
  1. Ask better questions: Asking the right questions is key to making better decisions in your practice. When making big decisions, ask”what if” questions to anticipate problems and avoid mistakes. Constantly challenge assumptions and test ideas of the industry norms and common practices in our profession. Be able to live with the upside and downside of your decisions.
  1. Learn from mistakes: This one is tough for many of us, but I’ve learned that by embracing failure as a learning opportunity, we can really grow and our true personality surfaces. As long as you analyze your mistakes and identifying the lessons learned, you are on the right path. Use these lessons to improve your processes and avoid similar, costly, “dumb tax” mistakes in the future.
  1. Focus on the critical factors: Identify the critical factors that drive practice performance. Focus on the key drivers of success and allocating resources accordingly. Monitor your progress and adjust course as needed. Use a weekly practice growth scorecard to measure and monitor your numbers. 
  1. Communicate effectively: I believe that effective communication is not only essential for practice success, but can eliminate or reduce 99% of our problems as business owners. Use clear, concise language to communicate ideas and expectations. Listen to your team managers and top performers actively and seek feedback to improve your communication.
  1. Take action:Take action today to achieve your goals. Set specific, measurable targets and develop an action plan. Break down your complex goals into smaller, achievable 90 day milestones and track your progress.

By applying these principles in your personal and professional life, you will see and feel the financial, interpersonal and cultural changes in your practice. I know they have helped me immensely. 

If you’d like help with implementing them, or just don’t know where to start, then you should apply to join our next 6 week Advanced Membership Mastery Network mastermind group. You can learn more and apply at

Have a great week!

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