The Perfect Storm Strengthens

February 27, 2022
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Since 2020, the word “Unprecedented” has lost its impact, especially in business. The pandemic, government control, the great resignation, corporate competition, inflation, supply chain and now WAR. Oh my! What’s a business (practice) owner to do?

Back in “the day”, dentists could “succeed” DESPITE their lack of business training. And even then, “getting by” wasn’t as pretty a picture as many had in their minds when they entered dental school. Prior to the pandemic, only 15% of dentists were able to retire without changing (lowering) their standard of living.

Even that paltry and shameful number is set to plummet. That’s not a number the ADA or Dental Schools promote.

What’s the answer?
• Selling to a DSO?
• Increasing your marketing to get more new patients?
• Buying a new piece of equipment or adding a new service?
• Taking more CE?
• Drinking another glass of wine in the evening?


“Rich Dad, Poor Dad” might have been the title of my life growing up. I watched my dad be both in business. And, I learned from his successes and his failures. I never thought I would have to pay for dental school alone. But by the time I finished college, Dad wasn’t in the position to help.

The experience of seeing that downward financial spiral, gave me a giant head start when I began dental practice in 1977. I learned valuable business lessons. It pushed me to learn as much as I could so I wouldn’t succumb to Dad’s financial fate.

I began teaching “business” to dentists in 1984, when I directed a CE course at Columbia titled; “Business Basics For The Beginning Practitioner.” Laurie, who was then my office manager, and I taught the dental management component and we shared the lectern with our personal team of advisors; accountant, lawyer, financial advisor, insurance agent and banker. These were my “dream team” and they helped facilitate my practice and personal growth.


Everyone in business has failures. I’m no exception. My dream team changed over the years as they moved up the ladders in their respective professions. I was blessed with their guidance and advice through the economic turbulence of the late 70’s and 80’s and beyond. They helped guide me through this, while building a solid foundation that would support future growth.

At a critical point I had to find a new attorney because of a complicated conflict of interest. I chose an experienced firm but the partner assigned to me turned out not to have a deep knowledge and experience in dental partnership contracts. This resulted in a contract that did not fully anticipate situations that eventually arose. My departure, as a result, from a partnership in 2010 cost me more than One Million Dollars. Ouch!

How many doctors could absorb such a loss?

Fortunately, I had built a secure financial footing that enabled my to survive. And I learned from the experience that even “well known” advisors make mistakes. I trusted a reputation.

My more egregious mistake was that I didn’t use the backup resources I had at my disposal to check out and monitor the performance. I should have deactivated some of the former “dream team”. I let my emotions get in the way. I wanted this partnership to move ahead and I didn’t want to take the additional time for a review. BIG, COSTLY MISTAKE!

At the time, I did not have a business coach and was not yet a member of a mastermind group that I joined in 2006. Had I run this contract by them, they would have pointed out the contractual deficiencies. I’m sure of it.

What I did not have was a pair of non-emotional set of eyes who were only interested in my well-being. I now appreciate that such a resource is PRICELESS.

I’m amazed how few dentists ask me questions and how few comment on these posts. Few of my former students reach out to ask too.

What is it that make dentists so confident that they don’t reach out to others? Is there an “I’ll do it myself” gene? Or, is there some embarrassment involved?

Nothing is more embarrassing than failure!

If God forbid you were given a diagnosis of cancer, would you not seek several opinions about proposed treatment options? Would you not gather a team of the best possible people to help you? A DREAM TEAM?

Navigating through a storm is easier with an experienced team. Why go it alone?

You don’t have to  HELP IS A CLICK AWAY.


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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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