We continue to change. We’re always looking for new things and are always open to change.
Dr. Steven Pike is a third generation dentist. His grandfather on his father’s side was a dentist and his father is a dentist, too. The idea of becoming a dentist never occurred to Steve until he was 32 years old.
One day, his parents came to visit and they said, “If you’re interested in joining your father’s dental practice, this is going to be your last opportunity because he is getting ready to retire in six years.”
So, he said to himself, “I that’s a good idea. I think I’ll go to dental school.”
In his mid-thirties, he was the oldest person in his class at dental school!
He became a practicing dentist in 2007. He was 39 years old when he moved back to Portland and joined the practice his grandfather started.
Prior to becoming a dentist, Steve was an environmental toxicologist. In that role, he evaluated chemicals in the environment to see how they affected people’s health.
Where did the idea for becoming Dr. Pike Dentistry For Children come from?
My grandfather practiced dentistry in a very traditional, old-fashioned way. At that point in time, you did a lot of extractions and made dentures.
When my father was trained, it was at a time when we had a hierarchal system of working with kids: The adult was in charge and the kid had to do what the adult said. If the kid didn’t do what the adult said, you had to use force or intimidation to get your way.
My father didn’t like doing that, so he developed a method which would get kids to be cooperative and comfortable and actually enjoy going to the dentist.
He developed that technique and we’ve been doing that for the last 40+ years here and it works out great.
It’s a lot of fun. Parents love seeing their kids enjoying having dental work done. They’re doing new things that nobody thought they could do. We don’t have a lot of crying kids. Our office tends to be a very peaceful place.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
We start here at 7:30 in the morning. A lot of people like to bring their kids in before they go to work and before school. We see a lot of kids. We do a lot of exams, fix teeth, evaluate orthodontic issues, and we look over the kids general dental health.
We’re a finely tuned machine here – it’s like a Swiss watch!
Everybody’s good at their job and once you get all the little pieces working right, you can’t help but be productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Things are constantly evolving. Implementing a new system is always difficult.
We just have to decide that we really want to do it.
If it really makes sense and is going to be in the best interest of this organization, patients, and children who come here, then we do it.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am excited about preventing cavities by treating cavities as a disease and not just treating the symptom. I’m very interested in behavioral techniques that help kids get comfortable at the dentist. Those are two niches I’m excited about.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
We continue to change. We’re always looking for new things and are always open to change. This leads to continual improvement in what we do.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The hardest job I ever had was painting houses and commercial buildings. That’s how I spent my summers in college. I enjoyed it, but it was really hard work and really monotonous.
What I learned from it was a strong work ethic – getting up early, showing up at work, and getting the job done. You check your issues at the door, show up, and do your work. That’s why people are hiring you.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I were to start again, I would’ve started earlier. I would’ve told my Dad to run this idea by me about becoming a dentist when I was 20 years old instead of when I was 32. Actually, it was my Mom who presented the idea, so I wished she would have told me earlier.
So, I would have gone straight into dentistry out of high school if I had this to do over.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Commit to an idea of continuous improvement.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I really like internal marketing. When people come here and they have a good experience, they tell their friends about it. So, we are always trying to do a good job and make sure patients have a good experience when they come here.
We do search engine optimization and lately we’ve started making educational, informational videos for our Youtube channel and blog.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have ideas that don’t work – this happens all the time. The important thing is when you have something that’s not working, recognize when it’s not working and shift gears.
You don’t have to keep at an idea just because you came up with it. Let it go and move on to find something that works.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We use stainless steel crowns and they’re silver. Parents love them because they work well and they hate them because they are silver. There’s got to be a way to coat these crowns with a white material or maybe make them white as part of the stainless steel. If someone could figure out a way to do this, they’d be a ba-zillionaire!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent recently was spent on continuing education. I love taking those new ideas and implementing them into our practice.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We use Genesis Dental Software. It’s fairly easy to use and it suits our purposes.
There’s a lot of dental software out there and it gets very expensive, very quickly. Sales people will tell you, “You’ve got to have it.”
But oftentimes, what you need for your business is something that is very simple.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting. I really enjoyed it.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Certainly, my Dad. Aside from that, I tend to read books about persuasion and how to influence people. Those things tend to have a big effect on me.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.