I knew I wanted to be a dentist long before I knew I had to be a dentist. There’s a big difference there, and want versus need can determine the long-term success of a decision. I still get up every morning excited to go to work even though I’ve been in the same professions (dentistry and media) for a long time now.
It’s not enough to just want to own your own business. If you don’t feel like it is what you were meant to do, get out now.
Take away all the business education, experience and expertise you’ll pick up throughout your life as a business owner or even as an employee, and you better have one thing underneath it all: purpose.
Let that purpose drive the decisions you make. If you’re a business owner, identify that purpose clearly for your employees. The most successful business leaders in the world have one thing in common; each one has a simple, clear purpose, one that fulfills the desires of their customers, and one that the employees can get behind day in and day out.
The following excerpt deals with purpose and is from my new book, “Uncomplicate Business: All It Takes Is People, Time, and Money.” The book comes out in October 2015 and is available for pre-order at HowardFarran.com.
Excerpt: My dental career has always been filled with purpose. Within six months of opening up my dental practice in 1987 in Phoenix, Arizona, I was utterly demoralized. I had come from Kansas City, where the tooth decay rate in children was so much lower than the rate in children in Phoenix. I could not understand what was going on. Every mouth of every child I saw was riddled with rotting cavities. I was so baffled I called the local office of dental health and spoke with a man who turned out to be the smartest dentist I’ve ever met in my life, Dr. Jack Dillenberg. Jack simply said, “It’s because Phoenix’s water supply isn’t fluoridated.” I told him I felt like I’d be wasting forty years on an assembly line, drilling, filling, and billing for no purpose at all. I wasn’t going to make a dent in this pile. Jack agreed with me and suggested we start a group called the Arizona Citizens for Better Dental Health and get the Phoenix water supply fluoridated. I couldn’t say no. We met every Friday for two years until we convinced the city of Phoenix to add fluoride to its drinking water. I lived all week for that Friday meeting with Jack; it gave me such amazing professional purpose.
During that time, I’d speak at local schools and teach the children the importance of good home dental care with lots of brushing and flossing. My goal was to noticeably improve the overall dental health of my community. It still is. It is my purpose!
No matter what your business, you need a purpose!…
You need to give your entire company a purpose. I don’t just mean your staff, or you, or the chairs, or the bricks, or the mortar, but the driving philosophy of your entire company…
Your company’s purpose gives you clear-cut direction. If you take a team of people who place a high value on profitability, every decision they make will go toward maximizing profits. On the other hand, you might have a group of people who highly value customer care and will do and spend almost anything to make sure their customers are well taken care of. Put those two groups together and you’re going to see some battles. One team might want to hold back on spending money in order to lower overhead, while the other team really wants to implement something new to offer customers at the expense of the bottom line.
A mission statement explains to your customers and your team what your goal is and why your business exists. A mission statement serves to make your core values and their purpose crystal clear…
The mission statement for my dental practice, Today’s Dental, reads, “Build a long-term relationship between our staff and patients, and provide quality consumer-friendly dental services the whole family can value and afford in a happy environment.” Now tell me you aren’t sure what we do after you read that. When my team and I started Today’s Dental, we worked on this mission statement for a long time. When we set out, we never wanted to be a cosmetic-only practice with a spa-like setting. Yes, we do some cosmetic work, but we focus on bread-and-butter dentistry, and we aim to please. No frills, happy staff, solid relationships, and good dentistry. This mission statement is not just what we do day in and day out at the practice; it’s what we stand for! We live by this mission statement every single day, and if we feel as though we aren’t, we retool to make sure we’re getting back to our core mission…
The difference between leadership and management is purpose. The happiest people on earth are those who have meaning and relevance to their lives.
You have to develop a team that wants to play for you, work hard for your vision, and work with meaning and purpose. As the old saying goes, the fish rots from the head down. You are the head. Your corporate culture is only a reflection of you. If you make a horrible product or service, if you lie and cheat on your taxes, if you don’t refund customers’ money, all that reflects on you. The easiest way to be successful is to live with integrity and purpose.”