I’m back from a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, where we hosted 50+ TC Boot Camp attendees, three private coaching clients, a quarterly planning meeting for two of my companies and a scouting trip for a few long-shot investments. In two of the three private coaching meetings, a common theme we discussed was systems management. I reviewed business systems through three lenses: communication, oversight and recalibration.
Everyone seems to enjoy talking about systems, creating systems, perhaps even training their employees on new or existing systems. Since the first mention of “business systems” in 1980 by McKinsey and Company and through the creation and adoption of Six Sigma, business leaders throughout the world have been obsessed with automation and systems, to help eliminate defects in any process.
Sounds great, right? Just like “running a marathon” sounds great, the problem arises in the distance between idea and implementation. We all want to be in great shape. Getting off the couch and running every day is another story. We all want our businesses to run smoothly with maximum profit and happy stakeholders and shareholders. Systems oversight and management is another story.
Who Moved My Cheese? is a simple yet effective business fable about adapting to change and overcoming fears. The book has sold more than 26 million copies and remained on the New York Times business best-sellers list for nearly 5 years. It offers very little in the area of systems development, but it diagnoses precisely why systems fall apart and why we need them in the first place: change.
Your top competitors in business today will not be your top competitors five years from now. The problems you solve for your customers, clients, patients or donors today will not be the same problems you will solve a decade from now. Your employees, shareholders, stakeholders and strategic plans will change. Everything, in fact, will change; and that’s precisely why clients consistently travel to me with challenges and frustrations in dealing with change; anticipating change and overcoming their fears in adapting to, circumventing and even enjoying the change in their lives.
This morning on your way to work, your car keys were probably right where you left them last night. In business, however, nothing is where you left it. Change is continuous and often compounding or confusing for you and your employees. For example, if you left your employee training systems where you last touched them, perhaps when you started the business, they are not where you left them. Your training systems have, for good or for ill, been changed, improved, strengthened, weakened, diluted or condensed, etc.
Your systems have either adapted to or been run over by change. When’s the last time you took a look at them? How consistently and effectively do you oversee the systems in your business?
Things are not where you left them.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was a brilliant general. In the Second World War, he devised the “Eisenhower Box.” This is a matrix that ranks priorities according to importance and urgency.
Eisenhower didn’t want unimportant things coming to him in an urgent manner. He also didn’t want important decisions to be made urgently if time wasn’t a factor. Many business schools actually teach the Eisenhower Box, even though it was originally intended to help make strategic decisions in times of war.
Think about how much information comes to your desk or device. How often do you react quickly to non-urgent items? How often do you treat urgent items with a level of importance they don’t deserve?
Eisenhower forced his chain of command to be strategic instead of reactive. He wanted his team to go a mile deep on what mattered instead of an inch deep on a million things that were inconsequential. He wanted everyone around him to understand the difference between what was urgent but not important. He wanted them to realize that the truly important things are often not time-sensitive at all.
I’ll spend my birthday weekend in the midwest with two sets of great clients who are making excellent progress in their practices. Throughout our time together, my job is to not only provide resources, tools and tactical advice, but to consistently tie everything together in pursuit of a 3-5 year strategic plan. In other words, to focus on what was really important and to agree that the long-game is not as time sensitive as we think; to keep the non-important urgent distractions at bay.
You’ve heard me say here and elsewhere that we tend to overestimate what we can get done in a month but underestimate what we can get done in a few years. The reason this rings true with so many small business owners is that we are reactive versus strategic; we fret urgently over that which does not matter and pay too little attention, remaining too shallow, on the things that are really important.
In preparation for 2020 (it’s a new decade, after all), this is an excellent time to sit down with your “chain of command” and define the 3-5 big items you’ll be working on each year for the next 3-5 years, so that the year 2025 holds everything you deserve.
Eisenhower didn’t win the war overnight. You won’t 3X or 5X your business overnight either. If you go a mile deep on what really matters, however, you might wake up one day with a 10X practice. I’ve done it and helped many clients do the same. Everything you need to succeed is already within you. This is simply a matter of being strategic versus reactive.
The internet once promised complete information equality. Children in poor countries would have access to the same knowledge as a child in California. But, it hasn’t turned out that way.
Different countries have different ideas about the internet. China and Turkey censor their internet aggressively, while America allows disinformation, extremists, hate speech and pornography to infiltrate every corner of the web.
The Arabic language, for example, is spoken by more than 350 million people, but represents less than 1% of the information on the internet. The Spanish internet isn’t that far off.
In an absolutely brilliant and impressively in-depth report by Kevin Roose, Elizabeth Weil and Bill Wasik, contributors to The New York Times and Atlantic magazine, the argument is made and thoroughly supported that the free internet we were all promised has devolved into a cesspool.
I obviously agree and have been beating this drum for many years.
Today’s internet works a lot like the real world. “It has an income-based hierarchy in which everything, from cleanliness of the water to the quality of the schools, is determined by how much you can afford to pay.”
Look at the internet 10-20 years ago. Everything was supposed to be free. Hulu, a video start-up at the time, claimed the end for the era of paid television. You would be able to watch your favorite shows over the internet, “anywhere, anytime for free.”
The largest newspapers and magazines started pulling down their pay walls or not building them at all, giving way to the internet’s maxim that “information wants to be free,” a maxim that I’ve consistently challenged and have seen supported by smart people like Cory Doctorow.
In 2008, Wired magazine ran a cover story that said, “Practically everything the web touches starts down the path to gratis,” calling free services “the future of business.”
So, where are we today?
The average American spent over $1,300 last year on digital media. Even Hulu, the champion stalwart of “free” television, pulled the plug on their free tier of membership. The cheapest Hulu subscription is now $7.99 per month.
Watching YouTube videos has become nauseating if you don’t have a paid YouTube TV account, starting at $11.99 per month, unless you enjoy watching horrible ads for horrible products that pop up throughout the viewing experience.
From news and productivity apps and dating sites and even an incredibly popular email program, Superhuman, which costs $30 per month, the internet has clearly walled itself off into a neatly manicured garden for those who pay and a wild jungle for those who cannot or will not.
This begs the bigger question, what is the real cost of free?
If the free internet results in Facebook mining our data, Amazon and Alexa tracking everything you say and order, Google collecting personal health information and selling all of this to the highest bidder, countries like China and Turkey vigorously censoring their internet and extracting a heavy price (up to and including the rights to your intellectual property and trade secrets) in order to do business in their countries, then where is the internet headed in the next 10-20 years?
It’s an important question and is covered in the aforementioned report, which I’ll be sending to and dissecting for my private clients.
As a subscriber here, I’ll give you a few hints regarding the main takeaway points and lessons for your practice. I’m not shy about the paywall I’ve erected in this business nor do I undervalue the information I share and the power it holds for smart business owner who implement. It appears it only took 10 years for Hulu to catch up with me.
First, there will be more and more regulation and taxation on the internet, information and data.
Your ability to out-earn all of this and to maintain adequate margin in your business is paramount. Go back and look through this report to see where I’ve encouraged you to get better at asking what never changes. Relationship marketing, internal referrals, driving more revenue per employee and lifetime customer value – these all start with a sold understanding of human psychology and behavior.
The best firms on the planet are well-suited to this challenge.
Even World Wrestling Entertainment has over 60 data scientists who work tirelessly to protect their brand and the connection with their fans. It’s wrestling for crying out loud. I doubt the world’s best dental and medical associations have one-tenth the staying power for the next 20 years to help their members navigate the tremendous tidal wave of online regulation and taxation coming their way, and these associations do something a little more important than leg locks, atomic elbow drops, piledrivers, jackknife powerbombs or Stone Cold Stunners.
Second, you must learn to master this online opportunity for your business to attract and retain customers or smarter people will eat your lunch.
Marc Andreessen was right when he predicted a future where there will be two classes of people: those who tell computers what to do and those who are told by computers what to do. AI will quickly separate the smart marketers from those dragging their feet, thinning the herd and distributing more income to the top 1% faster and faster so that each industry and niche is dominated by a few top players in each market.
In a recent event with Jimmy Nicholas, he and I unpacked and revealed for the first time the new A.I. his team has built with IBM’s Watson, in order to accurately record, transcribe and predict 99.8% of all incoming phone calls for our mutual clients. Jimmy and his company, Jimmy Marketing, do this nearly 60,000 times every single month.
He’s mining those data to help clients predict the times and hour of the day when they are most-likely to miss calls, resulting in a potential revenue recapture of nearly $25 million per year for our clients.
Jimmy runs the same predictive A.I. for our Google and Facebook ads, split-testing the best offers and calls to action, boosting conversion rate for one of our radio-to-web campaigns by 432% while simultaneously driving down cost per lead by over 3X.
Third, if you think you can figure this out on your own, as a small business owner, doctor, lawyer, specialist or audiologist, I urge you to put on your thinking cap.
Seek more clarity about where the web was 10-20 years ago, where it is today and where it will be 10-20 years from today, and run like the wind to see if your market is available to work with Jimmy and his team.
If you are already working with Jimmy and his team, your job is not done. I’m urging you to get on the phone each month with your marketing account manager in his office and set bigger goals, leverage untapped opportunities and invest like the big boys and girls who lurk in the shadows, waiting to eat your lunch.
This is a clarion call to action.
The cost of what the internet tried to be (i.e., free) is about to destroy anyone promising you something cheaper and less sophisticated than what we’re doing now and in the future with Jimmy and his team.
Get this done now, or please don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Five years ago, Nir Eyal wrote a book called Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, which helped startup tech firms understand user psychology. He discussed the research on slot machines, which use variable rewards and pleasures that come at unpredictable intervals. If you haven’t read, Addiction by Design, it is both amazing and alarming.
In response to pressure from psychologists and child development specialists, tech industry insiders have blown the whistle at Google, Facebook and WhatsApp, becoming critics of the very tools and addictive apps they spent years developing. In his latest book, Eyal admits that there will be a movement to be “post-digital” in 2020. He says, “We will start to realize that being chained to your mobile phone is a low-status behavior, similar to smoking.” But, he does not think technology is the problem. We are.
Throughout the book, Mr. Eyal challenges the idea that technology is doing all of this to us. “These are things we can do something about,” he argues, “It’s disrespectful for people who have the pathology of addiction to say we all have this disease. No, we don’t.” Eyal says technology is something people overuse, which suggests we need to do something about it ourselves, but Tristan Harris, the former Google ethicist, argues the opposite. Harris speaks around the world, leading the movement to regulate big tech firms and require that they change how they develop tools and apps, putting the onus on them to make their devices and apps less addictive.
Although I don’t expect these two narratives nor their arguments on technology and behavior to be settled anytime soon, I do think there are some valuable takeaways for your business, when faced with any challenge or opportunity:
First, never forget, regardless of the narrative in your mind, there is always a counter-narrative. Make it your job to get better at seeking out the counter-narratives in your life and in your business. Work to understand them, whether you ultimately accept them or not.
Second, ask two important questions when you face any challenge or opportunity: “Am I sloughing off personal responsibility or reclaiming it?” and “What does my understanding about this issue, opportunity or challenge tell me about me?”
Eyal equates his stance on technology and personal responsibility to a time in his life when he was obese. The myriad digital detox crash courses he attempted were just like the 30-day fad diets he tried but were unsuccessful. He finally lost weight for good when he asked himself why he was eating.
The solution he advocates and the narrative he’s accepted on technology overuse is a slow process. “People often look at their phones because they are anxious or bad at being alone,” he says, “The phone-hooked need to figure out why they are so uncomfortable waiting in line without their screen and what they fear around them.”
This mental contrasting ability to hold two narratives in your mind is extremely productive and serves as a great tool in running your business.
In every corner of life and business, you’ll find those who cling to one narrative and those who can mentally contrast, play devil’s advocate, hold strong opinions loosely and let the best idea win. One road leads to success, fulfillment and happiness. The other leads to stagnation, frustration and peril. Here’s to taking the path less-traveled. Here’s to understanding all narratives and the power they have, for good or for ill, to help you or cause you to fail.
Mark Twain wondered, “whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.“
His quote could have been written 1,000 years ago as easily as today or 1,000 years from now. This is one of many reasons I like Twain. He knew how to think accurately about human nature. He focused on things that never change.
This way of thinking is an antidote to the well-intentioned, even deeply thoughtful leaders around the world that lead our nations into pointless wars, drag our economies into and through idiotic trade negotiations, levy taxes on the core tenets of growth and prosperity and deceive themselves and, sadly, their voters.
Not because they are bad people, but because they are misinformed by scholars, ego and the status quo – promulgating nonsense.
Let’s unpack these three sources of hogwash:
Scholars have strong opinions, tightly held. We joke, cerumen deeply impacted, that the local ENT surgeon tends to be biased in the surgical outcome when the procedure is named after oneself.
Some scientists are immune to this nonsense. Many are not. Agendas are plentiful. Politics is played hard. Tenure and research grants are not taken lightly. Often, unfortunately, the science is.
Ego is perhaps the single-strongest destructive force on the planet. It blinds even the best-intentioned and most-disciplined leaders, like a dust storm blinds everything in its path. Ryan Holiday was right. Ego is the enemy.
Status Quo claims a close second place to ego in the potential to destroy truth and keep entire generations of people, scholars, leaders and industries stuck in neutral or slip-sliding in reverse.
Charlie Munger was right when he said professions and industries tend to change one funeral at a time.
What is the solution, you ask?
Great question. First, acknowledge and understand you already have everything you need to make a difference in your life, so that everyone around you thrives. The good news is that it has never been easier to take advantage of advanced economies and technology to build a great business, learn new strategies, impact change and control the sails.
The bad news: there are more distractions (more noise, more wind) tugging at your sails. There’s more out of your control and you’re more aware of it than ever before, so it seems like chaos at all time, if you allow it.
Imagine listening to 24 hours news for 30 days and then measuring your anxiety level, confusion and frustration at the “imbeciles” Twain references. Then, imaging extracting the news from your life and asking what changes. The answer: nothing, except you would have your sanity back.
Get into the habit of assessing each day before you go to bed. Review the day in your mind.
Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Marcus Aurelius, Munger, Buffett – any many other deep thinkers, have contributed tremendously to society because they were not ignorant to misinformation.
Smart minds know a lot of misinformation comes from “scholars” who have never tested their theories in the trenches of life and business. Smart minds know the destruction that comes from unchecked ego and make it their modus operandi to buck the status quo.
The next time you see something on the news that you think will impact you or your business, give it some time to breathe. Often, it will resolve itself, die from lack of attention, like a fish out of water, or self-destruct like a moth to a flame.
If it’s outside your control, let it do what it will. Pay it no attention.
If you feel it falls within your purview, ask what the experts and the status quo can tell you, seek how your ego might impact your decision and then ask what never changes.
Twain knew his assessment of the average leader could stand the test of time. Rank your most-recent handful of important business decisions. Can they stand the test of time?
Now rank your most-important and successful decisions in the last 10-20 years. What key components can you identify inside the decision-making process for those excellent decisions and what never changes, what scholars might have done, where your ego was at the time and what the majority would have done at the time.
This is how you become a better thinker – which is exactly what I’m tasked with doing here – helping you be the best at getting better, nudging you to continue growing. It’s an opportunity the average business owner wouldn’t fully appreciated, and so it’s the highest honor to work with you here each week.
Onward and upward!
“Silence is the presence of time undisturbed.”
In a world savaged by noise, distraction and heedless entertainment, it has become more and more difficult to locate and protect our ability to be silent.
It’s fascinating to consider the amount of creativity produced during a day in which one is silent.
Taking long walks in nature, spending time near the water, carving out a reading nook or reflective space in one’s home – these are common strategies amongst my most successful and happiest clients and friends.
Some practical tips:
Kill the digital brain stimulation before bed. Most Americans watch television or scroll through the social feeds on their smartphones and then hop into bed. Your brain is too active to sleep restfully. Instead, turn all your digital devices off a few hours before bedtime. Lull yourself into a great night’s sleep by reading a book, praying or meditating after stretching and thinking about what you learned today, what you want to do tomorrow, etc. You’ll discover that you’ll wake up easier too. I haven’t used an alarm clock for over a decade. This was impossible until I faithfully adopted the strategy of easing myself into bed, not flying feet-first after a full-day of digital stimulation.
Kill the television. You are unlikely to achieve all of your goals in life if you watch 38 hours of television per week, like the average American. Instead, get outside. Take up gardening, golf, hiking or sailing. Put your brain to more constructive use during times of leisure and it will be better-prepared to serve you when you really need it in the business and throughout the rest of your life.
Do not wake up with the morning news or your smartphone. Waking to someone else’s agenda is a perfect way to derail your best-laid plans and intentions. I recommend you avoid email, texting, news or social media of any kind until after lunch, when you’ve had at least 4-5 hours of solid work invested in your own agenda for the day, not someone else’s.
It is said that Senator Ben Sassee buys his interns old-fashioned alarm clocks.
He doesn’t want them staying up at all hours of the night, checking in on their smartphones to any of the thousands of news outlets throughout the world that pump them full of distraction and sap their ability to rest and recharge their bodies and brains. “
You’re going to need them both in the morning, after all,” he reminds his team.
Learning to be silent, in order to produce the most creative ideas for your life and your business, is a skill that you can learn. No one is born knowing how to live in “undisturbed time,” but if you pay attention to the happiest and most-successful people on the planet, you’ll observe their uncanny ability to be silent in a world savaged by noise.
Three months after its public debut, Uber posted a $5.2 billion loss that’s “impressively vast” even for a company whose business model is based on outspending the competition, said The Economist. Since its inception, Uber has lost a total of $14 billion. A few weeks ago it laid off 400 people from its marketing department, representing a third of the entire division, and has placed a hiring feeze on new engineers.
Uber’s stock is down 20 percent since their IPO in May. It’s expensive to recruit drivers, there’s more competition and consumers are very price-sensitive. Even the most-promising startups, with billions of dollars in venture capital, must answer to the laws of gravity.
Last Wednesday was a private coaching call day. I started early in the morning and took call after call, in 45 minute increments, until late afternoon. In many of the calls, there was a common theme of growth via attempt to ignore gravity. Doubling the size of your business is not as simple as doing twice as much of what you’re doing right now. Growth creates complexity and complexity kills growth. New employees, hours, locations, additional doctors and strategic partners – all of this is complex and it can strangle the very thing you want to achieve.
As a recovering stubborn-headed know-it-all who used to do all of this the wrong way, please learn from my mistakes and understand what I get to see working all over the world and also what doesn’t work.
Understand the laws of gravity in your business. Attempt to defy them and you will eventually be pulled back down to earth.
First, decide how big you want to get and why. Aimless growth is like a mapless journey. It might turn out great, but the odds are not in your favor. If you can’t write down a revenue goal, you’re highly unlikely to achieve it by accident.
Second, determine how much profit you must derive from each unit of time, service or product. Do not violate it. Cut costs at every turn.
Third, know your “enough is enough” number and have people in your life that can hold you accountable to not only achieve it, but also to enjoy the life you’ve created around you before you’re dead and gone.
Fourth, realize every successful business is really a marketing and sales business. If you don’t know the money math inside these core competencies, you will never achieve significant growth.*
Take total collections and divide it by the number of new patients, clients or total products sold last year. Do the same with total collections and number of full time employees. Know your most-productive hours in the business and your least-productive hours. Set the minimum required revenue per hour or per product line and task managers to maintain or exceed those metrics.
Failing to acknowledge the gravity in your business is like ignoring a bad joint sprain and attempting to run a marathon. Most of your peers operate blindly and big dumb companies behave badly all the time, but this is no reason for you to follow in their path.
* You and 39 other clients can join me in 2020, where I will show you best-of-class statistics for each of the metrics (i.e., gravity) in your industry and help you perform in the top 1-5% of your market and field. You can request details for an upcoming discovery call where you will see details of the program. Make your interest known by going to MyCoachingApplication.
I’ve been presenting on the power of patient gifting and marketing automation for many years. The most common question from audiences revolves around cost. I’m asked, “How much should I spend on a new patient welcome gift, shock ‘n awe package or new start ‘wow’ box?”
My answer has always been the same: whatever it takes.
Clearly, one of the top five reasons why patients don’t refer, which I review extensively in my writings, is that they aren’t welcomed to the practice in a BIG way.
I learned this principle from The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Development Center, The Disney Institute and by studying top producers in home and car sales. Everyone wants to feel special and important. Consumers want to know that you sincerely appreciate their business. They also want something to talk about.
A financial advising firm sends one of the nicest new-client welcome boxes I’ve ever seen. It’s not extravagant and it’s not that expensive, but it’s completely congruent with their avatar client and the message they want to send.
I’ve produced entire Loud and Clear marketing programs on this topic. If you’ve been hanging around for any length of time, you get it. This is all redundant. But, so are the Ten Commandments if you’ve been going to church or synagogue for any length of time. Repetition doesn’t make them any less important.
Yet, I won’t waste this entire article reminding you of the power of gifting and welcoming new patients, clients, customers or donors in a BIG way. Instead, I’ll stimulate some higher-level thinking on the dangers of cutting the small things in your business, like new-customer welcome gifts, birthday cards and marketing automation, when business slows or when the decision maker gets bored and wants to do something new.
Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, noticed that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people in Italy at the time, similar to 80% of the peas which were produced by 20% of the pods in his garden, so the story goes. Most know this phenomenon as the 80/20 principle.
What most people don’t know is that Pareto was famous for another smart economic theory, clearly applicable to your practice. In it, Pareto explains, if you were on a sinking ark, you wouldn’t throw a few cats or dogs overboard to save the ship, because it would have no impact and the boat would still sink.
Instead, you would find the elephants and throw them overboard.
And so, I find myself in the frequent position of talking clients back from the edge of cutting all the things that have made them successful: convenient hours, risk-removal, putting the best team on the field, investing in the relationship with gifts, marketing automation and referral strategies, only to discover 18 months later that they’ve thrown cats and dogs overboard when they should have thrown off the elephants.
Hearing Care Providers: how many hours of underutilization occurred last quarter in your treatment department? Physicians, retailers and attorneys, what are your biggest line-item expenses and how much impact would it make if you found alternative vendors or strategic business partners that saved you 10% or 20% on those line items alone?
You might have seen in the news recently that Southwest Airlines shut down their entire operation at Newark International Airport.
Southwest said this decision was due to the grounding of the 737 Max airplanes until at least 2020. It might have something to do with landing fees, terminal conditions, union negotiations with bag handlers or any of a myriad of things. Southwest didn’t say, “No more bags fly free and no more peanuts and no more drinks for the customers.”
Nope. They threw an elephant off the ark. No more Newark.
Kill the entire operation until we can make money there. Smart, smart, smart. I didn’t get rid of my new patient gifts, shock ‘n awe mailers, welcome boxes, earmold + brain training gifts, referral campaigns and live events. Those are small cats and dogs. Thrown off an ark in times of trouble, they make no difference.
I threw off the BIG elephants of Managed Care and 3rd Party Networks.
Food for thought.
It’s Q4 2019 and time to start planning for next year. According to Definitive Healthcare and McKinsey and Company, here are the top healthcare trends for the coming year:
Consolidation – Over 803 mergers and acquisitions took place in the last 12 months, in addition to 858 affiliation and partnership announcements. This trend brings newer technology to smaller clinics and hospitals, as they join larger groups, driving down costs. Consolidation is predicted to accelerate over the next 2-3 years. It also decreases competition and creates mega-hospitals, with regulators watching closely.
Convenience – 65 percent of consumers buying commercial insurance select cost as the top factor when choosing where to seek care. Today, 24 percent of consumers reported using retail clinics like CVS Minute Clinics, compared to only 9 percent only four years ago. To go around this trend, you must get really good at marketing to the 35 percent who don’t list cost as a top factor and/or serve fee-for-service patients.
Telehealth – Over 70 percent of consumers would rather use video than visit their primary care provider in person. Telehealth is expected to reach $94 billion in care by 2026. State board and malpractice carriers will need to catch up. Consumers are now setting the standard of care, whether we like it or not.
Artificial Intelligence – is expected to continue growing with the tremendous amount of data being generated by hospitals each day. AI will help us utilize and understand all these data, driving down costs and improving care. This presents the biggest opportunity for private equity investment and staying power.
Staffing Shortages – will continue as the nursing and primary care workforce continues to age. Currently 55 percent of all registered nurses are 50 years old or older and 52 percent of the active physician workforce is 55 or older. Combined with an aging population, there is a higher demand for nurses and primary care physicians…AND Hearing Health Care providers! Effective hiring will continue to be a critical area of practice in addition to offering the best benefits packages, so that you can attract top talent.
Data Security – will continue to consume more time and attention, forcing more regulators to step in, as last year saw many data breaches that exploited healthcare records; eight of which exposed over 500,000 records and three exposed over a million. You must factor higher IT and cybersecurity costs into your budgets, moving forward.
If you haven’t scheduled your annual planning day, now is the time to get it on the calendar. My team likes to take a day or two out of the office and go somewhere fun and relaxing. Sometimes we go down to the country club and other times we simply rent out a cabin and get away from the office so we can think about a bigger future, outside the constraints of the physical workplace. We speak about trends like these and constantly ask how we can do things better for our patients.
All six of these trends will affect your practice, both now and in the future. The offices that are prepared to deliver more value than the competition and do so inside a convenient delivery model are the practices that will enjoy tremendous success moving forward.
* Every year or two, I take a day with top-level clients to talk about the future of the profession. It’s certainly not too early to plan the next date. If you have an interest and want to join me for a discovery day, where you can see what me and my top clients are doing to leverage these trends (surfing the wave instead of fighting it), then express your interest to one of our certified trainers and coaches at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s make next year your strongest yet.
Most small business owners are used to giving answers, not asking questions. If you followed around some of the world’s top CEOs and leaders, you would find the exact opposite is true. The best leaders are great at asking questions, so that the best ideas win and the best answers quickly become evident, even if they arise from the least-expected team members.
Management expert Peter Drucker was well-known for asking smart questions like, “What changes have recently happened that don’t fit what everyone knows?” Read that question again and let it sink in for a minute.
Most leaders start their meetings with assumptions, biases and beliefs about their market. They see any change in the market as something to be dealt with based on their existing talents and tools. They almost never assume the solution is entirely out of their wheelhouse. They simply go about fitting every “nail” to their hammer. Drucker’s question, however, forces you to stop and ask what you don’t know.
If revenue and profit are up this quarter, why? Start with what you might not know. Maybe there’s a new employer in your area offering excellent audiology coverage. Might that be the unknown source of your good fortune? Perhaps the referral campaign you did 60 days ago is finally catching up with busy schedules and spouses who want to get their loved ones into the hearing health care provider before their vacation. Maybe consumer confidence has a lot to do with your growth, etc.
The list should be long of possible reasons why something different is happening in your business, but you’ll never articulate the actual reason if leadership insists on giving answers instead of asking smart questions. If things aren’t growing as quickly as you would like, here are five of Drucker’s questions to ask of your team at your next meeting:
Too many small business owners can’t articulate a powerful and meaningful reason why they exist in the marketplace other than the fact that they want to earn a living and they like what they do. I’m sorry, but the market doesn’t care that you like to boost clarity or perform surgery or help clients with legal problems. The market only cares how much value you can deliver in solving problems for consumers.
Too many small business owners are unclear about exactly whom they serve. We were crystal clear years ago when we stopped treating children and cochlear implant candidates. We’ve never looked back and have continued to grow, even by dismissing 25% of our previous new patient flow. We know exactly whom we serve and we know precisely what they value.
Finally, what is your plan and how will everyone in your organization know if you’re making progress? Drucker says, “Progress and achievement can be appraised in qualitative and quantitative terms. These two types of measures are interwoven – they shed light on one another – and both are necessary to illuminate in what ways and to what extent lives are being changed.”
Know what your results are and how to measure them.
If you need some inspiration in making your next quarter one of your best ever, stop coming to the table with all the answers and instead start asking better questions. Set the framework and keep asking, “What more can we do to delight our patients?” Your team will have answers. Give them the freedom and motivation to pursue them in service of your mission.