creating oppourtunities during a recession

Last night I was talking to a group of Welsh Dentists about the winners and losers that the recession is creating in dental practice, and the part that good communication skills play in staying on the winning side! One of the group told me about a new practice he had just opened in a smallish town. He brimmed with confidence and energy and confessed that the whole experience had made him feel younger and given him a new lease of life. (He had just turned 50 and he looked great!) As he described his new practice and the unique (for the area) proposition he had set loose on an unsuspecting population (and even more unsuspecting local dentists), it was clear that he was playing the dental practice game at a level which would certainly disrupt his competitors and have them scrambling to build web sites and hold onto their patients. He is ahead of his business plan already and he will be working with us to make sure he stays in front!

In the big picture of UK Dental Practice he is unusual, as a lot of practice owners are still in hiding, waiting for the good, easy times of pre-2008 to return (they won’t). In the world of Breathe Clients, he joins 14 others who are currently building new practices or buying tired practices and reinventing them. I thought you might find it interesting if I described the sort of journey that these 14 Dentist have been on. Without exception, it starts with:

1. “The Call”.

This is the voice in your head calling for a change. It usually follows some time of living with an increasing number of compromises, usually, professional or financial or in terms of your work life balance. The voice gets louder until you decide to do something about it, even though you’re not sure what the escape route looks like. Before I trained as a coach I remember very well the call telling me that I needed to find an alternative to working in my Dental Practices! It’s disruptive and strangely compelling. The call leads to ~

2. “The Search.”

This is the time you invest in looking for your lightbulb moment. The ah-ha moment when you realise what’s next for you. At Breathe, we work with clients who are looking for a change during our twice yearly Business Retreats. (see, and many of them go onto make significant changes in their professional lives including new Dental Practice start ups. It’s really important that this new vision of your future is matched to: your values, your capabilities and your personal goals so that you create a vision that is both compelling and realisable.

 3. “Leaving.”

The next step is to set off and start building your dream. It’s exciting and frightening in equal measure, that’s how you know that your vision is the right one for you. There’s always a moment, like a ship leaving a dock, when it is too late to go back and this is the moment when you know that you are actually going to do it! This part of the journey can quickly turn into ~

4. “The Wilderness.”

This is the often frustrating world of searching for: the right property, planning permission, funding, a good team, the right proposition. This part of the journey is inevitably full of wrong turnings, blockers, compromises, disappointments and requires tremendous stamina and persistence before you get to ~

5. “Arriving.”

Of course, there are two destinations when creating a new business or reinventing an old dental practice. The first is to get it finished and open, the second is to make it profitable…

6. “The Gift.”

This is the phenomenon that always accompanies creating a major change in your life and that is that you gain something that you weren’t expecting to. For the dentist I met yesterday, it’s that he’s got his energy, “his mojo” back and a new lease of life.


It’s difficult to stand back from your life when you’re living it, difficult to get the mental acuity, difficult to stop the noise in order to think clearly and difficult to stop checking your phone and your email for awhile in order to decide what you really want. And yet, with the many agents of change affecting UK Dental Practices, there are many, many opportunities to create successful businesses.

At the Breathe Retreat, we incubate dentists for 4 days away from their distractions of family, phones, email and patients so that they can and hatch their big ideas ~ and they do. The Breathe Retreat happens twice a year and the next one is June 13 to 16 (and is filling up with folk).

If you would like to find out if you are ready for this event, Call Ernie Wright on 0845 299 7209 or email for more details.


With All Good Wishes,


Simon Hocken BDS.

Director of Coaching

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