The Five Stages of a Dentist’s Life
1. The 20s: “Let’s get started.”
Just about everyone graduates full of youthful excitement and eager to get going. A lot of your energy is spent maneuvering to end up in an acceptable practice and set the stage for the future.
2. The 30s: “Let’s get busy.”
You’re starting a family, buying a home and life is moving faster now so the focus is on getting busy and living the life you imagined.
3. The 40s: “Life is working.”
You’re envisioning maybe a bigger practice, family or home. But also probably a bigger income, so you get into the rhythm of “feeding the beast.”
4. The 50s: “How long should I do this?”
Now is the time you start thinking ahead and mulling over retirement scenarios. You start getting serious about finances and savings, if you haven’t already.
5. The 60s: “Can I afford to stop?”
Now you’re a ticking clock, and looking back and forth between your income and savings to see when you can afford to stop working. What if you can’t afford to? How long can you last?
Of course not everyone follows this pattern exactly, but it is very common and revealing of usual mindsets. I also would point out that there are a lot of dentists who could afford to retire much earlier but choose to practice into their late 60s and their 70s because they love what they do and don’t want to stop.
But for a lot of dentists, retirement planning often comes right down to the wire. This has never made sense to me. I look at it from a CEO’s perspective and see so much opportunity—opportunity that is there in your 20s and 30s—that there is really no reason that every dentist can’t solve the affordability concern early on their career. The problem is most dentists don’t think about their business value 20, or 10, or even five years ahead of retirement, and that is a HUGE opportunity lost.
Whatever stage of your career you’re in, do yourself a favor and ask:
What am I doing RIGHT NOW to maximize the succession value of my practice?