Visualising 2023

Michael Gerber defined different levels of business ownership over 20 years ago in The E-Myth Revisited:

  • Technicians – tend to focus their energy on the skill they originally learned – the dentist who wants to do dentistry at the highest level
  • Managers – want to combine the technical work with responsibility for people and systems – the dentist who wants to do dentistry and run a multi-surgery (or site) business
  • Entrepreneurs – want to relinquish their original skills and facilitate the use of time, money and people to build corporations – the dentist who doesn’t do dentistry any more and is building the multi-site micro-corporate

Until recently I would have demonstrated that the proportions were:

  • 66.6% Technicians – career associates
  • 33.3% Managers – Principals
  • 0.1% Entrepreneurs

I believe those proportions are beginning to change, only in the sense that more “Managers” (i.e. Principals) are moving to the micro-corporate business model (hence the creation of my Top Twenty Club to reflect their special strategies and tactics).
Let’s take a look at what UK dentistry might look like in 2023.
I doubt that the proportion of Dental Entrepreneurs will rise much above 0.5% but those 100 or so individuals will make a huge difference to the profession overall.

My prediction is up to 100 micro-corporates in the next 10 years, each made up of up to 100 practices (but probably averaging 25 practices)

There are roughly 14,000 “Technicians” (associates) in UK dentistry currently.

My prediction is less than 7,000 UK associates in 10 years, 2/3rds working for corporates and 1/3rd in independent practice

We know that the supply/demand curve for Technicians (associates) is heading “south” – there are more associates than there are jobs and the advent of direct access and the new NHS contract will only accelerate this.
Remuneration for associates in the NHS sector now averages 35% of gross (heavily disguised in the UDA system) and private associate remuneration is marginally heading towards 40% with the advent of the type of sliding scale contract featured in the “associate profitability spreadsheet” that we broadcast last week (over 750 requests for a copy – a 7connections record for engagement).

There are 10,000 “Managers” (Principals) in UK dentistry currently. My prediction is that in 10 years there will be 2000

The rest having

  • retired early (Who wouldn’t sell to a macro-corporate at the moment? With goodwill values approaching 140% in the NHS it is time for a lot of frustrated 45-60 year olds to cash in their chips as the refinanced big boys continue their land grab)
  • morphed into micro-corporates
  • simply vanished

All of this is good news for some – the correct response is to ask yourself the following questions”

“As a professional individual, where do I want to be in 2023? Technician, Manager or Entrepreneur?”
“What do I have to do to get there?”


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.