Bell Curves and Base Camps
Posted May 13, 2014 in Publisher's Page
During the start-up years of LMT, I read several articles about how product life cycles are bell curves; they typically peak and then decline. I also subscribed to the Harvard Business Review (HBR) and it featured a series about why most startups fail within the first five years.
Between the image of the bell curve and the HBR stats, the message loomed large that I needed to remain on high alert to recognize when LMT might peak and start to decline. I also decided it was important to have more than one product. We created LAB DAY.
Our fourth year was exceptional; I knew then that we were going to beat the all-important first-five-year odds. Nevertheless, my mantra remained that I’d never rest on my laurels. That was never an issue for our team anyway, because rather than being numbers oriented, we’ve always remained focused on challenging ourselves internally to continuously up the ante on what we deliver.
So we introduced Synergy—a magazine designed to appeal to technicians and dentists, focused on ways dental teams work together to deliver optimal patient care. From the start, it was an idea before its time and a painfully steep climb. No bell curve there—just straight up with no footholds—and I felt it was sucking the life out of us.
I pulled together a group of close industry advisors. Robert Berger, founder of Belle de St. Claire, was one of them. “Focus on what you do best,” he advised, “and don’t spread yourself thin. Instead, do as much as you can to strengthen your calling card.” It was great advice. We closed Synergy after only a year and a half.
Since then, we’ve never looked back. I discovered that some products don’t follow a bell curve at all. Growth for LMT has been more like climbing a multi-faceted mountain. We make it to what looks like the summit but it turns out to be just a base camp, a plateau along the way. Sometimes it makes sense to abandon a path and find another.
When you combine the passion for your work (as I know you do) with a wide lens for what’s possible, you remain nimble and able to adapt to market changes.
Being very alert enables you to know what might best propel you upwards. The cool and fun factor is that there are many ways to get there.
In this issue [May 2014], we feature two laboratories taking different and intriguing paths: one, whose owner, new to dental technology, recognized an opportunity by embracing what some in our field consider “the competition.” He is focused on chairside CAD/CAM and has turned it into a business builder (see page 42). The other features a laboratory that carved a niche in the surgical support arena, redefining what it means to really offer “full service” (page 33).
For your strategic planning, LMT’s 2014 issues are guidebooks. You now have in your inbox or mailbox our biennial Fee and Wage Surveys. The results will be printed this Fall. I urge you to take the time required to complete these important surveys. The more individual surveys we receive back, the more comprehensive and valuable our report to you will be—and the better map they’ll make—as you begin the ascent to your next base camp.
Since 1985, LMT has had an every-five-year tradition of delivering a survey-based State of the Industry report. Our next report is in 2015. We expect it will demonstrate how quickly—and powerfully—our community has adapted to the digital realm, so please be sure you complete this survey when we send it out this fall.
All of LMT’s original research surveys and reports are additional tools for reading the market, staying on high alert and charting your course.
See you at the next base camp.
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