Artist or entrepreneur – choosing the right business pathway

Are you an artist, an entrepreneur, or a bit of both? Simon Chard discusses how to choose the right pathway for you and your business, and the importance of finding out where your skills lie.

Welcome to episode two of building a brand. Today, we’re going to be talking about the artist or the entrepreneur, also known as the ‘evolution of your art’.

This is a really interesting topic and I think that it is something that applies to everyone. It definitely applies at the start of your brand-building endeavours. Really, it’s about reframing something that many of us are aware of already.

The artist

The artist is what most of us are as associates. It’s someone who, in general business terms, carries out a particular service or creates something, and they are paid in reflection of the service that they provide.

For us as dentists, dentistry is our art. That is something that many of us, including myself, are very passionate about. Helping people, using our hands… we are so lucky in dentistry to be able to carry out a job that has so many different facets.

However, from a business and brand perspective, you can only scale this to a certain size. There are only a certain number of hours in the day that you are going to work, and there’s only one of you. The art at will reach a maximum scale some point, and when it gets to that stage, you have a few different options as to what to do next.

Either you try and work faster, which many people have tried to do, and that tends to lead to a reduction in the quality of services that you are providing. Or, you could put your prices up, and therefore you’re being paid more per unit of activity. That’s another way to reach a larger financial scale, whilst still providing the art and the service that you’re passionate about.

Obviously, this will mean that certain people won’t be able to access the services you’re providing, because your prices may be beyond what they can afford. You might price yourself out of the market if you go too high in this endeavour.

Many people stay at the artist stage and are satisfied with their income level. They are doing what they love to do and they are being paid the correct amount for it, and that is a happy equilibrium for them to stay in. That’s what you see for people who are associates for their whole careers.

The hybrid

However, if you do want to scale past this, from a business point of view, you’re going to need to create some leverage. When I say leverage, I mean that you need to bring in other people to help carry out the services you are trying to provide.

I would describe the next phase as ‘the hybrid’. The hybrid could be, for example, a practice owner who is still carrying out clinical dentistry themselves, but is still referring off cases as new patients are coming in, so these patients are being seen by other members of the team. This means that you are benefitting from the time of the other individuals on your team, but you are still providing the art yourself.

This is a happy medium which many dentists live in. I still live in this environment where I’m carrying out clinical dentistry, which I love, but I also have a seven-surgery practice. This means that I can benefit from having people on my team working when I’m not there.

You gain an element of passive income, depending on how your business is run. You can reap the benefits of both sides of the coin, both the artist and the entrepreneur.

However, this raises some questions, such as: can you truly succeed in both? You need to look internally and ask: where do my passions lie, and where do my skills lie? Am I terrible at business, but amazing at dentistry? It takes a lot of introspection and self-awareness to be able to find out where you stand.

The entrepreneur

The final option is to fully embody the entrepreneur, where the business is the art, and you find passion in that.

Certainly, I can speak from my experience as the founder and CEO of Parla. I take great passion from the business, the team, the branding, the marketing, and all the success that comes alongside that.

I think that we are very lucky in dentistry to be able to experience both the art and the business simultaneously. My main point today is to encourage you to be aware of this dynamic, and of the different pathways that you can take there.

With the entrepreneur pathway, you could take that to multiple practice dental service organisation (DSO) level, as well as other areas of dentistry, such as lecturing and production of various services or products.

The world is your oyster, but be self-aware. Look at where your skills lie, what your passions are, and then really double down on that.

We’ll be back with episode three next month!

Catch up with Simon’s previous Building a Brand columns:

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