Welcome to our founder series. Twice a month we will interview the founders of businesses, NFPs and charities who impress us, and we know will impress you too.
This week we chat with dentist and CEO and founder of iNEEDa Dentist.
Business advice to sink your teeth into
What do you get when you cross a dentist with an entrepreneur? Dr David Hills, CEO and founder of iNEEDa Dentist, talks business, best practice, and the bigger picture.
This post continues our series where we ask business leaders for their insights and lessons learned on their success journey.
Dr David Hills is the founder of iNEEDa Dentist, an online search engine that brings patients and dentists together in a way that rewards transparency, convenience and patient care. The platform sends qualified leads to a dentist’s clinic and makes it easy for patients to connect with a dentist that suits their specific needs.
He holds a Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Honours in Biomedical Science, Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Science and a Graduate Diploma of Dentistry from Griffith University and owns two dental practices. He is also the founder of multiple innovative businesses.
If you could give a start-up one piece of advice, what would it be?
Start lean and focus on being cash flow positive as quickly as possible. Too many start-ups waste their time chasing equity and seed funding when they need to focus on developing the product and distribution channels.
What has surprised you when you were creating iNEEDa Dentist?
The number of people who will waste your time and money promising the world without having the intention or the means to deliver on their promise.
What would be your advice around hiring staff?
Everyone has a CV that shows their best side, and some go beyond reality. It’s important to use the interview process to see if their personality will mesh well with the rest of the team. Also be quick to fire if the person is not performing and doesn’t look like they can meet the standards you’ve set for your team. You’re doing them a favour by not dragging it out and it saves both parties time in the long run.
Describe how you’ve dealt with failure.
I spent one year studying a niche topic for my thesis with the end result being zero effect. Most people would say that it was a waste of a year. However, by publishing the result it adds to the combined knowledge of the research community.
I recovered by graduating with Honours and then moved onto dentistry. It’s only a failure if you do not learn from it.
What has been the key to your success?
Consistency and persistence. Consistency builds trust, especially when it comes down to issues such as quality and service. Persistence helps you address and overcome challenges.
How do you attract new customers?
Employing best practice into your core business will always be one of the main ways to attract new customers because of the word-of-mouth factor. For us, word-of-mouth accounts for 70% of our new clientele whereas other marketing activities comprise 30%.
What have you learned on your business journey?
It is important to surround yourself with ‘doers’. Too often people promise the world and cannot deliver. Remove these people from your life and focus your attention on the 1% of people who can deliver.
How do you stay motivated?
There will be many hurdles along the way that discourage you. Keep focused on the bigger picture, the end game. I’ve always known the ‘why’ of my ventures and this is where persistence comes into play to push me past those hurdles.
How do you set goals? And how do you make sure you achieve them?
Apart from having an eye on the bigger picture, I set goals monthly. I find that having a solid strategy to achieve those goals turns them into reality – otherwise they are just dreams.
What has PR meant to your business?
PR has allowed me to build a personal brand that has opened up opportunities that would have never been possible without it.
Thank you David for sharing your insights and proven advice.