As a DeW (Dental Entrepreneur Women) I Have the Privilege Now to Share My Story
I was not always an entrepreneur; I was an art curator, an education specialist, and a dental hygienist employed by others before starting my own business. I am working full-time with my education company that includes StudentRDH (dental hygiene exam prep) and SmarterDA (dental assisting exam prep). I love the title of “Founder / CEO” on my business card, but being an entrepreneur is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. There are amazing moments where I feel as if I am on top of the world. Today, I received an email from a dental hygiene student who found me extremely motivational and the board’s prep course I created to be the best. But as you are going to see, it is not always pink and fluffy to be a business owner. The reality is harsh. Raise your hand if you are a DeW and share this experience!
If you are going to create your own business, know that this is not a hobby anymore. If an idea wants to have wings and take off, you must give it so much work and love. If you have a purpose and become disciplined, you can achieve anything!
#1. The Idea is Easy;
The Execution is Extremely Hard
We all have ideas, and the world is full of ideas – from the best electronic toothbrush to the new fitness tracking app. The ideas are endless, and I am sure you have some great ones in your head as well. But ideas are not businesses; ideas are just vague dreams. Ideas, in fact, are less important than the execution. I remember this Shark Tank episode where a young man created a line of “customized granola bars.” Kevin (Mr. Wonderful) asked him: “Is the idea or execution more important?” Both the potential investor and presenter agreed, it is 100% execution.
What does execution mean? It means discipline, being able to pitch your idea, getting feedback, making a demo, creating marketing plans, selling, providing customer support, and so forth. Basically, it is the mental and physical work you must put to give your idea some wings. What makes a business successful is the grind, the perseverance of learning, making changes, and simply getting things done.
If you look at my businesses – online education solutions for dental hygiene students and dental assisting students (StudentRDH and SmarterDA), the ideas are not innovative. Textbooks, online courses, and live courses have existed for decades. I have been able to carve myself a pie of this exam prep market because I worked non-stop to give my ideas the power to become something bigger. The execution gave me the opportunity to create something meaningful that others have recognized as being useful. I can tell you I’ve spent well more than 70 to 80 hours per week creating my dream and that this is still happening.
#2. Trust Data Not Your Guts
As women, we tend to rely on our instincts. And we do have great instincts! Sometimes we cannot put our finger on a situation, but we know what is going on and what needs to happen. However, as a dental entrepreneur woman (DeW), we must move beyond instincts. I think gut feelings are fine to create a small business. But to create a successful business that helps users and employees have meaningful lives, we should balance emotional intelligence and business intelligence. At Google, a team meeting starts with “let me show you” and not with an “I think we should.” My point is, every conversation is backed by results, not some suggestions. Let me give you an example with my own business, at StudentRDH and SmarterDA.
I had this gut feeling that this article and blog on “Football versus Dental Hygiene Student” was going to be a huge hit. It was timely being right around the Super Bowl when the hype was at its best. I wrote it with real examples, commenting on Tom Brady and other teams that had the potential to win. But the performance of the article was poor. Numbers do not lie. And because I’ve could look at the numbers, I knew I shouldn’t write articles like this anymore. This gives me great insight that I should use my time to produce content that the readers want. For example, the article of “Prophylactic Antibiotics Summary” was one of the top articles in Dentistry IQ in 2017. Those are real numbers that I can rely on to know what my focus should be.
Think of anything you want to do, then think how you want to collect the data. Let’s say you have a new business and you are creating a logo. You have ten different samples. Post your four top options on Facebook, for example, and ask people what they want as the company’s logo. Don’t say that you are doing this for your own business or they will be biased too, so say you are doing your coworker a favor. Or find people at the coffee shop and ask if they have 30 seconds to give you some feedback and in return give them a cookie.
My Rule of Thumb
Collect at least 30 samples to be at least, at a minimum, statistically viable. Many times, we will have the temptation to skip the data and go with our gut feeling. As you can imagine, this extra step takes a lot of time and effort. But this is the only way we can create businesses that are customer-driven.
#3. Work-life Balance is Almost Impossible
In the ideal world, the balance should be there. But owning a business is not a 9 to 5 anymore. There are so many responsibilities that come with being an entrepreneur or a DeW (Dental Entrepreneur Women). Let’s look at emails; they come all day long. Because of this internet flaw, some people demand our attention right away. Sometimes you may need to cut lunch early because you need to run to your computer and take care of business.
If you are on social media, the balance is even harder. People are not going to knock at your business door because you put a post on social media. Social media is about content for the users that they can scroll all day long, catered to the user. And the key element to great social media is engagement, meaning, that we must connect with our users. And you bet that takes our attention 24/7.
I once read an article that talks about work-life balance because I was desperate to find it. And the article said that we should change our assumption; if you are going to be a business owner, you must marry your business. I know, that’s sad. There is no work around it, and that’s something you must accept. Now that I have a new perspective on work-life balance, I am extremely content with the 70-80 hour a week work. The choice was mine, and I surrendered to the fact that a business will be my wonderful life.
Being a dental entrepreneur woman (DeW) is not about sacrificing your family life though. My suggestion is to use the “chunking method.” Block time and focus on one task during that session. For example, 1 hour per day, get rid of all your emails that you have in your inbox. Block another 3 hours to write amazing content for your blog. Then block another 2 hours for phone calls and sales. Because you are on a clock, you tend to be more productive. And “chunk” time for your family. Taking care of your health will also need a “chunk.” The idea is to stop multitasking and focus on simple tasks. If you think about cooking, the same principle applies. It is rather difficult to bake a pie while mixing a salad and taking care of your baby. This again takes practice!
I would like to end this article with a quote from Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Group): “There are no quick wins in business – it takes years to become an overnight success.” Awaken the most inspiring, hard-working self you probably already are, and become a world changing DeW!