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  • Travis Campbell

    Money and Success

    Living in America, the common definition of success is often based on your income. I would challenge that notion and say that success is not that narrow focus. Think about why you want money. Of course money makes the world go around. Everything is purchased with money. However, does the physical (or these days electronic) money by itself make you happy? Or is it more what the money brings you that makes you happy? Small amounts of money can buy you food. Large amounts of money buy cars, houses, luxuries, etc. So what do all of those have in common? Freedom to choose. So think about it, what makes you more happy and fulfilled? Was it the food itself, or the idea that you could choose a steak over the hamburger and not care about the cost?

    I live near Plano, a large city North of Dallas. It is a beautiful area, lots of large homes. However there is a very common problem there. People often are house rich and cash poor. They live in large homes that most people would think are amazing, but they are so poor because of it they cannot afford to do anything. I doubt most of them are truly happy with their circumstances when they have to scrimp their budget to actually live. What is the point of a large house if your life is empty?

    Now think about your dental office. The offices that make less than average, have high overhead, and minimal growth aren't your typical definition of success. Often we see with dentists here that are worried about saving money on every tiny expense, are feeling overworked and underpaid, and usually aren't thrilled with their situation. On the extreme end these are the doctors that often ask “why did I become a doctor in the first place?”.

    Let's look at the other extreme, the offices that have huge collections, large office, small overhead, and good growth. The doctor tends to fell fulfilled and genuinely happy about their situation, right?

    Time to think about some of the other aspects though, which many times can be as important if not more so. A few years ago I had that crazy busy office. Collections were very high, overhead was decent, and growth was going great. However I had a ton of stress, was bringing work home frequently, and felt constrained by the office. Taking off time for breaks or even a vacation were extremely tough and every time I felt like the office was suffering while I was away. Have you ever felt constrained by the office?

    As a contrast to that, a good friend of mine in Nevada runs an office that collects half of what I do. However his overhead is minimal, his stress is zero, he works 3 days a week and he takes 2 months of vacation every year. He makes enough money to be happy, but also has the flexibility of time to do almost whatever he wants.

    The key to success is finding the balance between income and flexibility, which combined give you freedom most of us are really seeking. For each person this combination is slightly different depending on our specific goals and life. Running a successful business is about being able to mold the business to fit your goals in both time and income and stay below our stress threshold. So next time you wonder “am I successful?”, I would suggest instead of comparing yourself to another office that you remember to look at the bigger picture and see if you are getting both financial freedom as well as freedom of time that fits your life. If you aren't, then why not take the next steps towards that goal?

    What are some of the things you have done, are doing, or want to do to improve your desired success?

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