5 Tips For Growing Your Business From A Refugee And A Former Troubled Teen

Dentists, business partners, and spouses Dr. Bao-Tran Nguyen and Dr. Nathan Jeal are an unlikely success story. 

Nguyen grew up in a refugee camp, having escaped communist Vietnam only to be lost on the open ocean without food or water, before she was picked up by the Malaysian coast guard. 

On the other side of the world, Jeal was a kid who moved from school to school, before falling into the wrong crowd as a teen. After seeing his friends drop out of school, go to jail, and even overdose, Jeal decided not to make the same mistakes. 

Fast forward many years, and Jeal and Nguyen have become a powerful couple—both in business, and in life. 

Together, these dentists created a program to help other dentists avoid the growing pains and mistakes that many make when opening up their first practice. 

I spoke with both of them recently, and they shared some of their tips which, though they’re aimed at those in the dentistry field, can easily apply to entrepreneurs across industries. Here they are: 

Tip #1: Increase the value of your time. 

Establish a threshold for the value you receive based on the effort you put in.

Think of it this way. Everyone has times during the day when they are most productive, generating results in a short amount of time. Increase the value of your time by allowing those most valuable activities the maximum amount of time possible, while reducing the time you spend on the least valuable tasks. Delegation to others, or elimination entirely, is key.

Tip #2: Realize that you can’t create value. You can only uncover it. 

The idea that one can create value is mistaken. A person can no more create value than they can force someone to like something they find distasteful. 

However, value can be uncovered by first identifying what your audience wants, and then figuring out how you can offer it to them. The mistake most make is trying to sell someone something they don’t want. The “secret” to making more deals is to only sell what people want to people who want it. 

Tip #3: Motivation is internal. 

No one who isn’t already driven to achieve on some level for themselves can be compelled to perform. What this means is that attempts to lead people who don’t want to be led will always fail. 

The thoughtful way to build a better team starts with hiring right from the start. Candidates who express a desire to improve themselves and their abilities in the context of value to an organization or process are always preferred over those who simply want a job. Similarly, clients, patients and customers can be categorized in terms of their desire to: 

  • Obtain great results
  • Maintain the status quo, or
  • Slide into neglect.

Tip #4: Multiply results with leverage.

Both human and financial resources should be leveraged to expand capability. The goal is to have tasks assigned down the organizational chart, rather than up it—people who can help you achieve this will be those who understand your vision and have strong delegation and organizational skills. 

Leveraging financial capital in order to expand either your locations or deepen your physical capacity is the route to growing a business that has more value and creates long-term wealth.

Tip #5: Embrace failure and calculated risk. 

Some degree of failure is to be expected as a business grows and the business stakeholders learn what works, and what does not. 

So long as the mistakes are not repeated without improvement then failure is an acceptable part of the growth process. Risk, too, should be embraced when the goal is growth. After all, there are no sure bets. We consider both risk and failure the “cost of tuition” in the real-life education one recieves as an entrepreneur. 

Whether you’re establishing your own dental practice or launching your very first product, Jeal and Nguyen’s tips can help you hit the ground running.

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