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Use Collaboration and Community to Grow Your Practice

“The truth is, nobody really prepares you for this, owning your own business. You just think it’ll be so easy.” Kirk recently shared his own entrepreneurial experience with our team, and it was very enlightening. “I worked in the coaching consulting arena and dentistry for about three years. And I thought I had enough experience under my belt because I was a CE junkie and very excited. I went to see the movie Jerry Maguire with my wife, and that’s all I needed, a little inspiration from Tom Cruise! I started my own business and I thought ‘Gosh this is going to be easy.’”

So often we enter a new venture this way, and I’m sure many of you began your careers with the same belief and excitement. “I’ve been through school,” you thought  “I’ve amassed the skills that I need, this is going to be easy, I know everything I need to know!”  Years later, you realize this wasn’t, and truthfully is probably never the case.

As Kirk continued with his story, he shared, “I probably wanted to quit about 12 times, I didn’t even know if I wanted to do this anymore. Because of the amount of time on the road, I was trying to do everything by myself, it was just hard, I thought that maybe I could do something else.  It wasn’t until I started bringing people into my life to help and support me, that things got better . I realized I was bad at a lot of things. I was really bad. I’m still bad at a lot of things.”


We don’t achieve much when we try to go it alone. Only when Kirk invited other people into his life, did he start to gain confidence and realize he needed to surround himself with amazing people. Dr. Barrett Straub reminds us  “No matter how supportive and wonderful our family and friends are, it’s other dentists that know exactly what you’re talking about that you need to grow.”  Who are you collaborating with? How are they making a difference in your life and in your practice?

There are many educational avenues, but when we learn from one another, our peers, others in similar situations, that’s when real progress is made. When collaboration and peer support is at its best, we are able to give and receive advice, share experience, and provide social, emotional, and practical support to each other in a non-judgmental environment. It’s how we grow, and how we help those around us grow.


There are many ways to connect with other people in various ways, and virtual connections have increased exponentially due to pandemic restrictions. Ask yourself honestly, are you impressed with the people you are surrounded by in the communities you are currently a part of? There can be so much noise and distraction on social media. It’s difficult sometimes to filter out false and misinterpreted facts.

In both your “virtual” and your “in-person” communities, are you getting what you need? Are your interactions building you up?

A good community is about creating and maintaining strong and healthy relationships with those you engage with. If you don’t feel this is happening, ask yourself, what do you want out of the community and the relationships found within?  Understanding the answer to this question helps us recognize the importance of belonging to a group that contributes, pushes us, connects us, improves us, and provides happiness in both our personal and professional lives.

A supportive community that fosters a strong sense of belonging also helps us overcome the feeling that we are stuck, alone, and don’t know where to go. Being in a community with like-minded individuals allows us to recognize that others are capable of, and have managed the same issues and obstacles that we face. This, in turn, gives us the motivation, knowledge, and support that we need to continue to grow in our lives and professions.

Our recent webinar Leadership is Lonely with Kirk Behrendt and Dr. Barrett Straub dives deep into the importance of community and how we learn from and support one another.

It’s easy to attend a CE course, to increase knowledge and master a new skill. But this will only take you so far. The real difference comes not in what we know, but in who we know, and who we surround ourselves with. As Kirk said,  “I don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room, there are other smart people in the room, and even to this day I’ve always said this. I don’t want to be the smartest person, because if I’m the smartest person in the room, I’m in the wrong room.”

Collaboration and Community are key components to not only surviving but thriving in the field of Dentistry. If you’re looking for a group of like-minded individuals, or a community to help you grow, Schedule a call and discover what a great community can do for you and your practice!

About the Authors: Jenni Poulos is a lead practice coach at ACT Dental.

Heather Crockett is a Lead Practice Coach at ACT Dental. She is also a dental hygienist, motivational speaker, and writer. With over twenty years of serving in different roles in dentistry, she combines her experience to provide our community with best practices for a better life.


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