Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Follow the Floss: Dentistry and Entrepreneurship 2.0

A dentist—yes, a dentist—is an excellent example of Entrepreneurship 2.0.  In our social web, social marketing, and information (over) abundance age, Entrepreneurship 2.0 is about creating something simple, specializing in a given area, providing a needed service, building a community around your area of specialization, and connecting with your community.

In other words, Entrepreneurship 2.0 is: SIMPLE, a SPECIALIZATION, a SERVICE, building COMMUNITY, and CONNECTIONS.

I had a dentist appointment two weeks ago, and my dentist, who I have known for as long as I have had teeth, performed an operation called a Soft Tissue Graft, whereby some skin from the palette of the mouth (the roof) is removed and placed along the gum line to slow and hopefully stop gum line recession.

Before you wretch, let me explain that the operation was successful and is not as heinous and gory as it sounds (at least, what I experienced was not as heinous and gory as it sounds). But with four shots of Novocaine in the mouth, I was feeling some facial discomfort and overall disorientation, so my dentist suggested I rest a while in the chair while he prepped his next patient in the other room.

As I lay there, feeling no pain in my mouth but feeling everything around my mouth as something fat, bulbous and bulging, I looked away from the window that looked upon the downtown Montreal skyline, closed my eyes, and started thinking about the field of dentistry.

There must be hundreds or more dentists in any large city, each one practicing their trade. For me, I was inside a small dentist’s office in a large, non-descript medical building in the heart of the city, hearing my dentist prep his next patient (and the next and the next, day after day, I imagined, making a decent living, I’m sure, thank you very much), and I sensed that what was around me and in particular with dentistry was the future of entrepreneurship. 

The ideas began to gel as my mouth began to thaw, and I mentally penciled down five concepts:

The first key concept is simplicity. Today it is almost too easy to become overwhelmed with information and technology. From businesses large and small to professionals in academia and government institutions, the rage is on: more of this and more that, more information, more stuff, creating in turn a kind organized chaos.

Yet, in the face this mad complexity, there stood my dentist in his blue dental scrubs inside his simple but functional office, assisted by his office assistant and oral hygienist, his tools, and his list of (satisfied) clients. That’s it. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated.

To be a successful entrepreneur today, whatever you choose, buck the trend and keep is simple! 

The second key concept is specialization. While keeping it simple, my dentist also specializes in, well, dentistry. While he has interests and hobbies in other areas, like anyone else, he makes it his duty to become the most informed dentist he can be. That’s a no-brainer, I know. But far too often entrepreneurs take on too many areas, never really becoming a specialist.

Find an area that sets afire your passions and specialize.

The third key concept is service. I believe we live in a service-oriented, knowledge-based society as opposed to a manufacturing-based society, which was the case only a few years but now is quickly fading thanks to manufacturing giants in Asia. We provide a needed service to people. My dentist provides a needed service, not necessarily a likable service, but a needed one all the same.

Now this is one case where the dentist example falls short because a dentist provides a specific and dare I say uncreative service. He works on people’s teeth. Ho hum.

You need to use your imagination and creativity to determine what service (what is currently missing out there, what gap can you fill?) you can provide that is needed by society, while keeping it simple and becoming a specialist.

Community and Connections
The fourth and fifth key concepts are community and connections.  They fit together like hand and glove.

Before I departed from the dentist’s office, my dentist talked to me about post-surgery care (what to do, what not to do, what to eat, what not to eat, that sort of thing). He also took a few extra minutes to explain to me what he had actually done.  I thanked him for taking his time to explain, and he said, rather excitedly, “I like teaching, that’s why I’m giving presentations nowadays to dentists of all levels.”

He also mentioned that he had been dabbling with a website idea, a blog, and online continuing medical education services and resources because there were many dentists seeking such services online. That’s what solidified the fourth and fifth concepts. Community and connections.

You build a community around your area of specialization. This can be accomplished online with the many tools and services in existence on the Web. Moreover, you need to connect with your community and find ways to help them connect to what they need (your product, your service, your knowledge, your skills, etc).

In short, Entrepreneurship 2.0 can be condensed into five key concepts: simplicity, specialization, and service; furthermore it includes community building, that is, building a community around your area of specialization, and helping people connect with the information, knowledge, etc that they seek.

So next time you visit your dentist, think about Entrepreneurship 2.0, rather than that nasty needle.

UPDATE: While drafting this blog post, I came across marketing guru Seth Godin's blog in which he elucidates a little more on the concept of connections. Do read it.


riverside dental surgery said...

I enjoyed reading thanks for this entry,i agree that this ideas began to gel as my mouth began to thaw, and I mentally penciled down five concepts. Keep up the good work.

by: florence

Unknown said...

I've never heard of such a procedure. Glad it worked out as it sounds like a difficult operation.

about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.