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Dane County Small Business Awards: Small business, big impact

We honor six local companies that embody the best in Dane County small business.

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Artisan Dental: Consciously capitalistic

The most impressive thing about the early growth of Artisan Dental is not so much the tripling of annual revenue and the doubling of its workforce, but the rapid increase in the number of patients served.

Co-owner Scott Andersen attributes this to a “multi-stakeholder” approach adopted from the Conscious Capitalism movement cofounded by John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods Market. In Artisan Dental’s case, the stakeholders it serves are patients, employees, suppliers, community, and Mother Earth.

“That unleashed a whole set of convergent synergies that if we were just looking to maximize profit or grow for the sake of growth, our growth would not have materialized,” Andersen states.

“In our estimation, it’s the premiere local business award. The fact that [judges] felt our practices, our approaches, and our mission was worthy of recognition is a wonderful confirmation from a highly regarded peer group.” — Scott Andersen, co-owner

It meant a great deal for Artisan Dental to become Wisconsin’s first Certified B (Benefit) Corp., which it earned for sustainable practices. For Andersen, it was a third-party confirmation that the practice is bringing the Conscious Capitalist approach to life because one of the keys to B Corp certification is creating mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders beyond shareholder or owner interests.

“I hope we can serve as a leader, a pacer, for other organizations to follow,” Andersen says of the certification.

When Andersen explains Conscious Capitalism, he focuses on four basic components. The first is having a higher purpose that motivates and galvanizes all stakeholders to serve that higher purpose. The second is the multi-stakeholder orientation, or the ability to see things from a broader perspective given the interdependencies within. A third component is conscious leadership and the fourth is conscious culture. “Another way of translating that is that the leadership and the culture you’re trying to create is interested in honoring and fostering people’s professional and personal growth,” he says.

On the subject of personal growth, Artisan Dental thinks outside the box with benefits such as science-of-happiness training, a complementary course offered by the University of California–Berkeley through its Greater Good Science Center. The Center has aggregated the best scientific research on best practices — such as gratitude, mindfulness, and journaling — that contribute to happiness. Artisan Dental offers employees a $300 incentive for completion of this course, and it offers a $150 reimbursement if a team member’s friend or family member completes the course.

Artisan Dental’s community giving is extensive and mission consistent with initiatives like Give Kids a Smile. “There are certainly developmental opportunities available in terms of working with the pediatric population,” Andersen explains. “There is the opportunity to work with that population, just in terms of teaching them the value of oral health, and then there is the business case for it. The research we’ve seen suggests that in terms of customer loyalty, the largest single factor is shared values. It accounts for about 60% of patient loyalty.”

(Continued)

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