Why business plans usually fail


In December we spend time with our clients to help them identify their objectives (both personal and business) for the next year and then help them build the strategy and tactics to try and make sure they meet their objectives in 2016.

Our clients are more likely than most to build a business plan and implement it, after all we make them accountable to us and – even more compelling – they are paying us to get their plan into place. However, even then, sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds.

There are many reasons plans fail to get past the start line, the obvious ones are:

  • lack of resources (money, people, time)
  • the plan isn’t compelling enough to get the attention and effort it needs
  • circumstances change and get in the way
  • for the principal the lure of the paying patient is more enticing than the thought of business development

However, I think there are more subtle and powerful reasons why plans fail to get implemented and it’s to do with the principal and their fear of loss. Changing the status quo in a practice is difficult. It’s like trying to get a fully laden plane off the ground, lots of effort and a long runway before it slowly lumbers into the air.

Once airborne, changing course or altitude takes a lot less effort but getting the plane up their is hard work. So, making a change in a practice needs lots of additional work and energy and then more often than not, the flight is turbulent and the rewards for making the changes can sometimes take longer than everyone expected to show up. Meanwhile, the costs of the business plan are kicking in and for a while the profits decrease.

In reality, there’s always a gap between putting in the time effort and cash to make a plan happen and the financial reward and many principals don’t want to take less money home or are reluctant to find another way to fund their plan.

On one side of the equation we have a functional dental practice, making a profit and with many opportunities to grow and develop. On the other side is a practice owner who has to find the time, the people to help and the money to fund a business plan with no absolute guarantee that the plan will deliver what’s hoped for and a period of disruption and reduced profits to look forward to.

And so in many practices the plan gets gently discarded. And in many practices next year will be the same as this year and, of course, this year was much the same as last year. And yet many dentists wonder why they get bored with general practice and why their practices are marking time or gently shrinking…

So if implementing your business plan is going to take your time, your money and disrupt your practice anyway, paradoxically the best way to get past your “yes buts” is to make it bigger, braver, more exciting, quite a lot more scary and much more likely to create a significant upside.

A plan that lifts your energy and passion for your practice will compensate for all the downsides. Anything else is simply re-arranging the deck chairs. So, be bold dentists. As the conqueror of Mount Everest Sir Edmund Hilary once said, quoting Goethe: “Whatever you can dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

If you’d like some help with your creating your business plan, contact me:

  1. simon.hocken@breathebusiness.co.uk
  2. 07770 430576

Best wishes


This entry was posted in Blog, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *