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The battle for entrepreneurship starts well before owning a business…
467 Days – Full of long nights, early mornings, missed dinners, ridiculous stress, and moments stolen from family and friends. There were unnecessary arguments, distracted conversations, and more apologies than I can count (or am willing to share)…
But, on the flip side.
There were learned skills of negotiation, risk management, decision making, business forecasting, marketing, web development, cash flow analysis, and professional relationship management – to pick a small few…
467 Days ago Monica and I decided that we would actively pursue the purchase of a dental practice.
Not just any dental practice. The same practice that she had been working at for 2 years and had previously declined an offer to buy. Quickly.
We had looked at other practices, sure… But this one needed more TLC than we cared to provide. And for that reason, our search had been focused on different practices in a variety of other areas.
What’s the saying about, “Tell God your plans if you want to give Him a laugh…”
Other deals fell through, much time had passed, and we were left with a renewed perspective. This renewed perspective helped us to see the potential benefits that could accompany buying the previously discarded option (i.e. familiar with patients, staff, setup, etc…) all were new positives in the infamous ‘Pro/Con’ list.
And then, once all the options were weighed – we made the call. We were up to the challenge!
On that day, 467 days ago, we embarked on what we assumed would be a simple journey.
There’s another saying about assumptions…
The hurdles started popping up from the onset as determining a mutually-agreed-to valuation became an issue. Then it was details of the patient records that would be purchased. After that, we had issues with securing financing because of the fact that we are aggressively paying down student loan debt (big payments hurt our monthly cash flow – e.g. we had less debt available to us). Then it was landlords…
We conquered one obstacle just as two more cropped right up. It got to the point that I eventually heard the same exact phrase from every advisor, accountant, lawyer, broker, banker, contractor, and industry professional we worked with…
“They’re not all like this…”
But we pressed on. Through insurmountable odds, lack of experience and connections, and unprecedented difficulty, we have finally emerged out the other side. We made the purchase, moved the office, and just now had our grand opening.
Honestly, I’m not sure I know how I feel about this accomplishment yet – still need time to process
Are we the same as we were at the beginning? Not even close.
Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.
All for what?
I’ve written previously that our recent business purchase and the subsequent debt incurred were both decisions made after meticulous research, contemplation, and prayer. And that ultimately we determined that this was the path most likely to provide our family with the highest combination of joy, fulfillment, and financial stability.
We made that decision 467 days before this writing, and as I sit here now – April 10, 2018 (the evening after our Grand Opening) – I can’t help but wonder how in the world we actually made it to today. If I would’ve known everything I know now, would I still have made the same decision 467 days ago? Would I have decided to “go for it!” more emphatically, or would we look at what awaits us with fear and decide not to pull the trigger?
I’m optimistic and have high self-confidence, so I’d probably do it again. But who knows for sure?
Here’s a brief summation of the last few months
June 30, 2017 – Closing on the practice in the original location (delayed months from the originally anticipated closing date).
July 1, 2017 – Shut the business down for a week — planned a year in advance by the previous owner and we kept it consistent because —> Go on a vacation that had been planned ~1 year prior to the beach with family.
July 2, 2017 – The business phone lines, internet, and fax lines all go down for 3 days while we were out of state.
Four days later – Phone lines restored, vacation enjoyment resumed
July 10, 2017 – Open our doors for the first time as business owners and start preparing – in earnest – to relocate our office.
The point immediately above is a long story but I’ll say that we were unable to secure a long-term lease in the original practice location due to ridiculously terrible timing, tactics, and communication by the landlord. Because of their inability to communicate effectively with us (and within a reasonable timeframe), we were forced to completely change the terms of the purchase agreement and at the same time find a new office location.
Oh, and we had 30 days to find that new office, strike up a conversation with the respective brokers and landlords, negotiate a 10-year business lease (from a weakened position), and sign on the dotted line. Otherwise, our financing would have fallen through and the whole deal would’ve been off.
What could go wrong with that plan…?
That’s why I say “Landlords” with a different tone.
Back to our timeline
October 2017 – Take occupancy of the new office location and prepare for demolition/construction (now we have 2 sets of bills for all the relevant utilities and we’re paying IT folks, dental suppliers, contractors, and the like to help us get this space ready. But the business we just barely secured funding for remains consistent in growth and production)
January 2018 – Break ground on the new construction
February – April 5, 2018 – Prepare the new location, devise a transition plan, coordinate new equipment purchases to accompany the existing equipment, make sure the IT company, dental suppliers, movers, contractors, and all others ready to assist are on the same page and ready to do their respective tasks when it is their time. (BTW – I’m working a different full-time job through all of this)
April 5 – 10, 2018 – Execute the plan and pray to God that nothing too expensive breaks in transit.
These last months – our battle for entrepreneurship – have been a whirlwind
And as I sit here tonight (in my daughter’s bedroom waiting for her to fall asleep), I can’t help but thank God and count my many blessings. For my wife (my best friend and now business partner) and daughter, for our incredible staff, for all those who helped us along this journey, and for the miracle that was us pulling off this deal and relocation without catastrophe.
But, it’s not just the above that I’m thankful for. These last 467 days gave me a crash course in business, leadership, communication, and God knows how many other categories. I can’t imagine that too many others would have the fortunate experience to go through an event like this. For that, I’m extremely grateful.
So, tonight, I’ve decided to include the 5 most critical lessons I’ve learned over the last 467 days.
They’re designed to be business/work lessons, sure. But I’ve learned to apply each and every one of these to all aspects of my life. And I’m better for it.
Believe me, I didn’t get these lessons early in the game. Heck, I didn’t get some of them until overtime. But my thick skull eventually caved and in time these lessons helped us to Purchase, Relocate, and Open our brand new business over the course of an EPIC 467-day battle for entrepreneurship.
My advice: take these lessons and try them out yourself. Be a better business owner, spouse, parent, friend… Or just be a better version of yourself.
Don’t get too high or too low –
There’s always new information and a new perspective for tomorrow.
Over-communicate your expectations, goals, and directives.
Chances are that if something doesn’t end up like you wanted it to, you could have communicated more – or at least more effectively – to prevent that mishap.
Always make sure your team is current with information and on the same page as you.
With the new information and perspective (Point #1), you can often define a new goal in your head. Now – make sure your team is working with you toward the new objective.
If you’re getting ready to start a business, you don’t have enough money in the bank.
Obviously, I don’t know your specific situation, but I’d venture a guess that there is an unexpected hurdle coming your way early and often. Save more, worry less.
Don’t assume that other people have your best interests at heart.
It pains me to write this, but trust is fragile in the business world. On the other hand, 100% cynical isn’t the correct perspective either. I recommend to start relying on others for small tasks early on, then as you build your relationships start trusting and delegating more.
Admittedly, the night after our Grand Opening doesn’t provide for the optimal reflection time. Please feel free to set me straight. Let me know what I missed in the comments below!
If you agree with my points, please let me know why. Let’s keep this conversation going together!
Thanks for reading!
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