Are We on a Rocketship or a School Bus?

By Dr. Addison Killeen

May 21, 2024

An interesting thing happens when you realize your dental practice isn’t a rocket ship and can’t grow another 100%. I’m nearing that stage now. We probably need another doctor in the next few months (maybe even a few months ago), and we’re nearing maximum capacity. What does it feel like when the rocket ship phase of the roller coaster of hyper-growth evens out, and the doors to the company are still open, minus the fun, crazy numbers where each month we set a record of production, income, and new patients?

For those of you who have hit that, it’s an important juncture. You’ve built something that many people are envious of, but sometimes that loss of hyper-growth comes with a change (possibly even a sadness). There’s still growth, but it’s slower. There’s still a lot of patient care going on, but without the dopamine hit of green in every column. Heck, at some point, there will even be some months that are lower.

Such a place is an interesting achievement for the entrepreneur and poses many questions: Are we ready to continue on the path from this place we’ve arrived? Do we long for something more rollercoaster-y? Do we buy a second practice, or third? Does this settling of the mind and numbers lead to a ‘dark energy,’ as Alastair Macdonald would say?

Work-life at this stage is like the “stirring the oatmeal” phase in a relationship. When the thrill and excitement settle into the steady, sustainable moments, they are simply different from when things may have started. Perhaps we find ourselves bored on Friday at 4 pm. Perhaps we take a sabbatical and find that the executive team has everything taken care of in our absence. (All marks of a thriving team who knows their roles – including the leader.)

That can be a beautiful ride to take. But now the question becomes, what is the next thing we tackle? Do we want more growth and say, “Let’s move the practice to a new location, build out a new clinic, and go for a ‘Mega Practice’?” Or do we say, “I want to drop all insurances and go strictly fee for service?” Each path has its positives and negatives. Whatever your path, I hope you can find something that still lights a fire in your soul to keep chasing it.

Be well and do well,
Addison Killeen

P.S. If you’re looking for guidance and a community of like-minded dental practice owners, consider joining Dental Success Network. DSN offers a wealth of resources, including continuing education, and a vibrant community to help you navigate the complexities of practice ownership. Join us today and take your practice to the next level!