Flexibility, Adaptability, Leadership
Today’s business environment is markedly different than 10 or even 5 years ago. We now operate in a fast-paced business landscape that is often less than predictable. For business owners this requires the agility and flexibility to recognize and react to subtle shifts and trends in the market in order to identify and capitalize on new and emerging opportunities. Disruptive technologies, new types of distribution channels, shifts in consumer attitudes and client demographics, non-traditional competitors, and globalization are all at play today and can signal risk as well as opportunity.
Internally, the challenges for small and large businesses alike are myriad from hiring highly qualified employees, increasing profitability by further improving production and workflow efficiencies, and identifying new target markets for revenue growth to further defining the current market base, making the right capital investment decisions, and managing the business metrics for progress and growth.
These and many other challenges continue to test the resiliency of small business ownership. But you are not alone. Today there are some 28 million registered small businesses in the US, defined as those employing fewer than 500 people, according to the 2010 Census. Compare that number to only 18 500 companies with more than 500 employees. The dental laboratory industry along with these millions of other small enterprises comprise the backbone of economic growth in this country and together are the engine that drives the American economy.
At the heart of every small business is one person with a vision. Even those companies that grew into über enterprises began typically as a sole proprietorship with their genesis in a home, basement, garage, or small storefront. Big consumer brand names such as Ford, Disney, Apple, Dell, Google, Amazon, Tesla, and Square all had similar humble origins, as did companies in our industry such as Henry Schein, founded by Henry Schein and his wife, Esther, initially as a pharmacy; Dentsply, incorporated by four men who opened the doors of their small business as a dental supply company; and Aspen Dental, which had its origins as a dental laboratory. Then there are the mega laboratory enterprises such as Glidewell, Microdental, DSG, NDX, and Modern Dental that can be added to this list.
For most, business acumen was not among the disciplines the owners possessed. Rather, each saw a unique opportunity that filled a market niche, solved a problem, or gave people something they didn’t know they wanted. Like you, each also had a particular skill set and a clear vision, determination, and passion. Success, however, is not measured solely on passion and drive. It is measured by your ability to seek business advice from others (even from your toughest competitors), to surround yourself with smart individuals with complementary skill sets and knowledge bases, to network with community leaders and industry suppliers, and to hire experts in areas of greatest business weakness. Success comes with the realization that operating a thriving company is a lifelong learning experience and is dependent on your leadership skills to guide the journey, keeping the vision and mission of your company on track while still being responsive and adaptable to changing circumstances, challenges, and new opportunities.