Harold S. Geneen, the President and CEO of ITT from 1959 to 1971, said that the five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are: Concentration, Discrimination, Organization, Innovation, and Communication. In this article, I will discuss each of these skills and give you some tips for using them to make your practice more successful.
Concentration: To concentrate is to focus. If you aren't focused on starting your practice, to the exclusion of just about everything else, it won't get done. It's easy to get distracted, by a current job, or financial worries, or fear, or just busyness. You must put all of your energy on getting your practice started and keeping it going. Taking your eyes off the ball causes you to waiver, and wavering means failure. Each day plan the three most important things you need to do that day. If a crisis comes up (personal or business), deal with it only if you determine it's more important than those three things. Concentrating on getting your practice started or on keeping it moving forward will pay big dividends in creating a wildly successful business.
Discriminate. To discriminate, you must differentiate between the important and the unimportant. This is the 80/20 principle: 20 percent of anything will bring 80 percent of the results. For example, 20 percent of your clients will bring in 80 percent of your sales. By looking at sales figures, you should be able to figure out which is the 20% in any situation; by discriminating between the 20 and the 80, you can concentrate your energies on the important, where they will be most productive. Here are some ways to apply this principle: If you have an employee who is in the 20 percent and causing problems, let the person go. If you have a client or patient who is just not productive and is draining your energy, let that person go. If you have a patient who is bringing in lots of referrals, focus on that person. In other words, discriminate, by focusing on the standouts. If the standout is positive, encourage this. If the standout is negative, ignore or dispense with it. Once you can do this, you will see a dramatic difference in your energy and in your practice growth.
Organize. Organizing is keeping track of all the tasks involved in managing your practice, and systematizing these tasks for efficiency. Here's an example: Collecting money. Set up an organized systematic process for assuring that you collect the money owed to you by patients or clients. Determine how often you will bill (every two weeks). Determine how and when you will contact non-payers (by phone? by letter?). Determine how and when you will take someone to collections. To organize means to assure that you have a system. Otherwise, you will let events take control of you, instead of you taking control of them.
Innovate. Never stop thinking about how to make things better. This relates to areas like marketing and promotion. How can you promote your practice to gain new clients? Some people call this "thinking outside the box." I'd call it "new ideas for changing times." A wise doctor I know said, "You have to re-invent yourself every six months." Your patient or client base never stops changing; you can't rest on your past successes. You must keep changing and adapting. If you don't think you're clever, find people who can help you with these new ideas. Call an advertising agency and have them give you an hour to toss around new ideas. Or go to your local Small Business Development Center and see if they have a marketing person who can help. Use your powers of creativity and innovation to adapt to changing times.
Communicate. This one is most important of all. To be a successful practitioner, you must be a great communicator - with your patients or clients, with your staff, with vendors, with everyone. This means you must be able to connect immediately with people one-on-one and in groups. If you don't think you're good at this, then you need to learn how. Take a Dale Carnegie course. Practice looking people in the eye. Go to Toastmasters to learn how to do public speaking. Join a networking group, like BNI. In other words, practice communicating and you'll become a better communicator.
So, to be successful in your practice, you need to concentrate, discriminate, organize, innovate, and communicate. That's all. Whoever said it was easy? That's why they call it "practice."
Copyright 2007 Jean Wilson Murray, MBA, PhD.
Dr. Jean Murray has been advising small business owners since 1974. As the founder of Planning for Practice Success, she specializes in assisting health care professionals with business plan construction and startup details. She can help you gain the knowledge to act and the confidence to begin. Learn more at http://www.professionalpracticesuccess.com/