As the economic slowdown and potential recession loom over entrepreneurs, some experts say economic downturns can present the best opportunities for business growth. Indeed, many of the world’s largest companies were built during recessions, and minority- and women-owned businesses were big drivers of jobs and stabilizers of the economy after the last US recession.
While every industry, generation and company has its own unique set of challenges, as a marketing executive I’ve found one method to be most effective in developing strategy: using insights gained from looking at best practices across polar industries. On a related note, as entrepreneurs struggle to think strategically during this time of economic uncertainty, they may find related insights by looking at the dental industry.
According to the American Dental Association, the Great Recession forced dentists to either streamline and run a more efficient, well-run business or close their practices for good. Patients spent less out-of-pocket, and dental spending fell in 2009, the first year-over-year decline in 50 years. Negative economic times have introduced a number of challenges, from fewer patients and a decrease in elective surgeries to lower reimbursement plans and an oversaturated market.
Forced to confront these threats, Texas cosmetic dentist Dr. Bruce Baird grew his then local clinical practice into a multi-million dollar service-based business. Today he has been practicing for more than 30 years, founded the Academy for Productive Dentistry and has become an author and serial entrepreneur in other industries.
dr. Baird believes his dental practice survived the Great Recession because he shifted his perspective beyond his medical beliefs and focused on cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset. It attracted new patients and increased repeat visits and patient referrals, but Dr. Baird attributes this achievement to three tactics:
- honed his understanding of business operations to grow his practice year after year,
- has improved the quality of its products and services for patients, and
- expanded his leadership skills to retain top talent.
With the current economic crisis having the potential to accelerate the growth of small businesses even in declining industries, Dr. Baird also believes that entrepreneurs should improve their leadership skills more than ever:
“Leadership is often accelerated when entrepreneurs seek mentors, and a valuable mentor is someone who has been successful at what you’re trying to achieve. Leadership is an intentional activity, and the best leaders become mentors to others.”
Although dr. Baird a serial entrepreneur, he continues to seek mentors in other industries. He also cites the use of insights gained from polar industries as an effective tool for strategy development:
“Just like the old saying goes, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. I try to find someone who has done something in the field I’m interested in and build a relationship with them. For example, I am interested in real estate and I have become friends with one of the most successful real estate entrepreneurs in the country who also lives in Texas.”
By using insights from polar industries and improving their leadership skills to include a shift in perspective, entrepreneurs have the potential to survive the coming economic slowdown and potential recession.