We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandon Scheer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brandon, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
There are a couple of things at play here. First, I’m somewhat of a legacy dentist– my great-grandpa, grandpa, and dad were all dentists in Kansas. So, I had always wanted to be a dentist. Turns out I became an orthodontist instead, but it’s close enough. Dentistry was done very differently in the past than it was today. Most practices had just the one doctor, who was also the owner, and they had the opportunity to really be a servant to their community. Fast-forward to five years ago when I finished my residency, and my first job was at one of those corporate dental places, which was not anywhere close to the dream that I had growing up. There were a few problems, the biggest of which was that somebody who was not a dentist was my boss, and had influence over my clinical decision-making ability. You can see how this might pose as a problem. Part of what a doctor does requires their hands-on skill, but honestly you can train a lot of people to be talented with their hands. What a doctor really has is the ability to make the right decision about treatment in a given situation. So, when my boss was allowed to have influence over my decision-making, I felt more like a technician than a doctor. Finally, circling back to the family legacy thing, I just did not feel like I was contributing to my community in the way that my father, grandfather and great-grandfather did. Okay, so those are a few reasons why I knew that something had to change. But how? My first inclination was to look for an existing practice to purchase, from somebody who planned to retire soon. It is a lot easier to do it that way, but the good ones are kind of hard to find. While I was discussing this with a practice broker, he floated the idea by me of just starting my own. I thought, why not? It would be harder, a lot more work, and would be riskier. But it would have some advantages, mainly it would allow me to create something that is exactly the way I want it. It has now been about 4 years since I made the decision to start my own practice, and a little over a year-and-a-half since I actually opened the doors, and I am so proud of what my office has become. Financially, it is a MUCH better decision to buy an existing practice with cash flow, rather than start a new one. Every entrepreneur knows that at first, you work an insane amount, and you make zero dollars for your effort. In fact you just lose a lot of money for a while. And it takes a long time to get out of the red, and even longer to grow into something that can actually support you. But the up-side is you have the opportunity to create something that is an expression of yourself. You hear entrepreneurs talking about “being genuine” and “creating a unique culture,” etc. Those things are absolutely true, and your business is 100% an expression of yourself, the way a piece of art is an expression of the artist. That, above all else, is what I wanted when I decided to start my own business. And, it is what I got.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My career is such a blessing for me, I seriously love it. The biggest blessing is the impact that I get to have on young people (and older people as well, for that matter). Anybody who has ever had braces growing up and now has a great smile knows the impact their orthodontist had on their life, and I get to do that multiple times a day, every day. It is just an amazing feeling. Here’s the thing about orthodontic treatment, and I’ll circle back to it to make it more relevant in a bit: the difference between an average, a good, and a great case lies in the tiniest little details. The details really matter, and those details are so small that you don’t even notice them unless you really look hard and study your work. That is what sets me apart from others and keeps me busiest, just studying my own work. It is just my personality to be super OCD and critical about those details. To the point where it even annoys my staff sometimes, and they have told me so. But the result of my weirdness about making sure that every little detail is perfect, is that I have cases that I am really proud of, almost every time. And, I love my business and I want my business to be profitable, but I refuse to let the needs of my business take primacy over what is needed to get the best results that I can. I think that is what really sets me and my practice apart. To get to where I am today professionally has not been easy. Most good things do not come easily. Strictly from a professional or clinical level, you just can’t accept that you are good enough. I always try to motivate myself with the idea that it is possible to be a little bit better tomorrow than I am today, and incremental improvement spread out over time is extremely powerful. But that is a hard mentality to maintain. It is much easier to be satisfied with your achievement, or more perniciously, to start to believe that you are better at the job than you actually are. Believe me, doctors tend to do that all the time. But I have found that I tend to stagnate when I allow that mentality to take hold. So, to answer the “Was it easy?” question, no. You have to evaluate your work critically every single time, and get used to eating your humble pie, or you plateau and stop improving. The same lessons that I have learned about becoming a good orthodontist apply to being a good business owner, as well. To be honest, I am much better at orthodontics than I am at running a business. But, I’m learning and improving every day. There is one more idea I wanted to touch on related to business and getting to where I am today. I was first introduced to the idea from Robert Quinn’s book “Building The Bridge As You Walk On It” a long time ago. That is the idea of “Adaptive Confidence.” Basically, confidence in your ability to adapt to a new situation. I would encourage any potential entrepreneur to really think about that, because it is one of the most encouraging ideas I have ever come across. You don’t have to know what to do when you are going into a new situation. In fact, you can’t know what to do, by definition, or the situation would not be new to you. It is scary to go into the unknown, it is very possible that you could fail. And if you can’t see the path from start to finish, you tend to not want to start down that path. But when you start thinking more in terms of your ability to learn and adapt to new situations while you are in them, the fear of the unknown loses its grip on you, and there is literally nothing that you can’t do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Denver has so many gems, where does one even start? I really like the Highlands for dining out, and Union Station. One of my favorite spots in the city is the running trail around Sloans Lake, I run that loop all the time. The mountains obviously have a lot to offer, any out-of-town visitor would have to do the obligatory hiking trip or ski trip with me. Less well-known though are the lakes up north, in the Loveland and Fort Collins areas. There are some gorgeous lakes where you can wakeboard/surf, paddle board, etc with an amazing view.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?