Want a light touch income? By Mike Hesketh. May 11, 2016.
I met a dentist once who was in a band, and all he wanted to do was follow his passion, go to Argentina and play music. The only snag was he ran a practice with six dentists, which took a lot of daily management. But after a lot of shifting things around, he got to his goal – this is inspiring.
It’s something I’m doing too (not moving to Argentina with a band; but stopping dentistry). I’m stopping on the 1st of July 2016 because I have to decide between working ‘on’ or ‘in’ my business. I’ve realised I can’t do either very well when combined. It’s something I’ve been working towards ever since I first bought my practice.
Every week for nearly four years I’ve talked to my wife about reaching a ‘light touch’ income goal and we’ve constantly evolved the business towards this. I’ve gone from practicing four days a week, to three days, to one-and-a-half, and finally now consulting work will enable me to go to zero and give me time to expand our single site business into a family run group of practices.
I’m telling you this because everyone has a different idea of success. This is mine, but yours is probably different. Ignore conventional success, it doesn’t have any intrinsic value. I’ve done a lot of different things: I’ve been a casualty medic in an Afghan combat zone, soldiered in the jungles of Sierra Leone, run all over Dartmoor gaining the coveted Royal Marine Commando Green Beret, pounded the wards and A&E departments as a Max Fax SHO and have even run a large Naval dental centre at sea. Professional satisfaction and fulfilment is extremely personal.
Since buying my dental practice in 2012, knowing exactly what I wanted, financially and personally, made it easier to make the big changes necessary to go from nine to 35 staff, four to eight treatment rooms and £450,000 to a £2,450,000 turnover. If you want to build a ‘light touch’ income too I can help, but if not I can probably help you work out exactly what your next level in life and work looks like.
I’m excited about the next level; I’m broadening my skills, becoming a member of the Chartered Management Institute, and working on a new business model for a chain of practices that I want to launch next year. I have an idea of how much time I’ll be putting into the acquisitions and operations parts of it, and so that’s my plan – and you always need a plan.
Working in the Royal Navy instilled in me the importance of strategy, and the importance of demonstrating how smaller tactics work on a day to day basis. There’s a lot of little building blocks that have taken four years for me to put in place; in fact, I’ve worked through 168 things on my Gantt chart in that time.
The secret to success was getting my team heading in the same direction as the strategy and goals, and that meant building a team of individuals in the mould of the practice ethos. They are all young, with bags of potential and I’ve given them quite a lot of leeway to show initiative. I don’t jump on them when they get it wrong and every team member has to be enrolled or attending a training course while working with me. This builds their confidence and rewards the business in spades.
If you have the confidence to make changes that are uncomfortable, I believe you really can do anything. Argentina anyone?
“I’ve gone from practicing four days a week to zero”
Mike Hesketh, head of management consulting