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New dentist among ‘Top 25 Women in Dentistry 2015’

Dental Products Report named Dr. Andrea Janik, District 15 ADA New Dentist Committee member, among the “Top 25 Women in Dentistry 2015.”

Dr. Janik

Dr. Janik

In its sixth year, the list was designed to recognize women from across the dental industry, including dental professionals, industry leaders and practitioners.

Dr. Janik, of San Antonio, is a dental practice owner in the Pacific Dental Services Group.

“Her practice is one of the top performing practices in the company,” according to her nominator. “She also serves organized dentistry at all levels.”

To read more about Dr. Janik and the others on the list, click here.

Each of the honorees will be featured in the October edition of Dental Products Report.

3 months before opening checklist – part 1: Finance

In previous articles, I’ve covered some of the very first things you’ll do as a new dentist who is planning to open a new practice. These included forming a legal entity and then actually setting one up.

Rich McIver

Rich McIver

In this article we’re shifting gears and turning to the first of three articles covering some of the more practical steps you’ll need to take approximately three months before opening your practice, and some things you should consider when taking on these tasks. This article will focus on finance related tasks:

1. Bookkeeping:

It may seem like overkill to hire a bookkeeper (or if you’re doing it yourself, to buy Quickbooks and set up a file) months before you actually open, but a lot of your most important bookkeeping work is done in well before you actually open for business. That’s because you’re going to be making large equipment and fixtures purchases (that should be properly capitalized), and you’re going to be incurring initial expenses (that should be properly categorized into custom expense categories), among other considerations. Not setting up your account properly means that while you may be able to accurately file your taxes, you won’t have accurate financial reporting, which will become necessary as your practice grows.

My Advice:

The temptation for most new dentists is to try to do your own bookkeeping initially, or at a minimum to hold off on hiring a bookkeeper until after you open in order to save money. While the motive to save money early is smart, fight the temptation here and pay for a bookkeeper. I can virtually promise you, you will screw up your Quickbooks file by not setting up expense categories properly. And then when you do end up hiring a bookkeeper, they’ll have to manually backtrack to fix everything you did wrong, and end up charging you nearly as much as if they would have just handled it for you from the beginning. To the extent you can, find a bookkeeper that has experience with dentists, as they’ll know industry norms and can help guide you, and will know a lot of the suppliers already, so they’ll be fewer questions from your bookkeeper each month asking “what was this charge for?”

 2. Credit Card Processing:

This is something a lot of dentists forget to do until the week before they’re opening for business. Normally for existing businesses, switching credit card processors just takes a couple of weeks. But for new businesses, particularly where one of the owners has less than ideal credit, it can take a couple of months.  Given that not being able to accept credit or debit cards effectively means that the majority of your patients won’t be able to pay you, starting early is a good thing, and you can usually get them to waive any monthly fees until you’re actually ready to start accepting payments anyway.

My Advice:

Dentists generally fall into a pretty good risk category, so you can get pretty cheap rates even as a new business. But to get cheaper rates, in general, you will have to obtain service through an actual credit card processing company rather than your practice’s bank. When you do get quotes, unfortunately, credit card processing is priced so confusingly that it can be hard to compare offers across multiple providers. So, I recommend either using a third party negotiating service, or demanding that any offer be presented in the more transparent interchange plus pricing format.

3. Business Checking Account:

Getting a business checking account is very similar to a personal checking account, it’s quick and easy. That said, you still need to do it early, before you start incurring expenses. Otherwise the temptation will be for you to pay for things out of your personal accounts, which will complicate your taxes and accounting immensely down the road.

My Advice:

You can find still banks with no monthly fees, and you should consider that. But perhaps more important is finding a bank with a banker you can actually get a hold of, and who is competent enough to get things done for you. As a dentist, you won’t need much, but getting a wire sent out without having to go into a branch, a hold placed on a check via a two minute phone call, or getting a phone call from your banker in lieu of an overdraft fee, are, in my opinion, what separates a good bank from a bad one.

Conclusion:

These three items are each things are the sort of mundane details that you may overlook entirely when mapping out your new practice. They are, however, very important, and cannot be done last minute. As far as product recommendations go, it’s a good idea to ask around for recommendations from your colleagues. The ADA, and perhaps your state dental society, offers endorsed providers (check out ADA Business Resources) for some products and this is a good place to start.  For provider recommendation information in each of these items from me, contact me. In the next article in this series we’ll discuss three operational tasks that you should do three months prior to opening your practice.

Rich McIver is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and the founder of MerchantNegotiators.com, a company that helps businesses obtain cheaper and better credit card processing. He also assists his wife, Dr. Holly McIver at her orthodontic practice, Kingwood Orthodontics. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

Stressed? Create and maintain a health balance

Prioritizing the demands of work and your personal life can often lead to stress, unhappiness and reduced productivity. While stress can sometimes help us perform under pressure and motivate us to do our best, there are real physical and mental consequences associated with chronic stress.

eating lunch at a deskIn the dental office, you may face various stressors. Handling patients, performing intricate procedures or managing tons of paperwork on a daily basis could all lead to increased levels of stress.

There are a variety of steps you can take to reduce both your overall stress levels and the stress you find on the job and in the workplace, according to the ADA Center Professional Success. These include:

  • Track your time. Pay attention to your daily tasks, including work-related and personal activities. Decide what’s necessary and what satisfies you the most. Cut or delegate activities that are unnecessary or can be completed by other members of your staff.
  • Leave work at work. Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time.
  • Manage your time. Organize household tasks efficiently, such as running errands in batches or doing a load of laundry every day, rather than saving it all for your day off. Put family events on a weekly family calendar and keep a daily to-do list. Do what needs to be done and let the rest go.
  • Bolster your support system. At work, join forces with co-workers who can cover for you — and vice versa — when family conflicts arise. At home, enlist trusted friends and loved ones to pitch in with child care or household responsibilities when you need to work overtime or travel.
  • Eat right and sleep well. Eat a healthy diet, include physical activity in your daily routine and get enough sleep. Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy.
  • Develop an appointment schedule that best suits you. Most of us go through the day using a “push through” approach, thinking if we work the full eight to 10 hours, we’ll get more done. Instead, productivity goes down, stress levels go up and you have very little energy left over for your family. Schedule a break throughout the day to walk, stretch or just relax.
  • Influence others. If you notice that a patient is anxious or fearful about a procedure, tell them you understand and instruct them to breath with you. Bringing down their anxiety levels will allow you to be at ease during the procedure.

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Planning for growth and expansion

Editor’s note: This is the fifth article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Wells FargoMost new practice owners don’t open their first practice with thoughts of immediate growth in mind. Nevertheless, it’s critical to layout future plans early in your career so you are prepared when the time comes to expand. While there are some clear indicators that will tell you when it’s time to update, expand or relocate your office, getting ahead of the process so you are in control will make the process easier, and the outcome more rewarding.

There are three facets to growing your practice – increasing the number of patients you treat, increasing the types of services you provide, and expanding your physical space to accommodate these patients and services. Your plan for growth needs to address all three aspects, using the following guidelines.

Put your growth plan in writing

The first task in preparing for growth is to have a written plan that outlines your vision for your practice. For instance:

  • How large do you ultimately want your practice to be? Specify the number of patients, operatories and associates you envision for your practice, and the amount of revenue you would like to achieve over the next five years or so.
  • Outline how you will attract new patients. Will you use local advertising, internal marketing, promotional programs?
  • Can you manage this growth in place with your current office set-up or an expansion, or will you need to move your practice location?
  • What kind of financing will be required for a practice expansion or relocation? Is your financial profile robust enough to ensure you can fund future growth?

Putting these details in writing mentally prepares you to take all the necessary steps for making a smooth transition to a larger practice when your growth plans succeed.

Understand the growth indicators

How will you know when it’s time to expand to a larger practice? Some key growth indicators for triggering an expansion might be:

  • Your space is not adequately meeting patient demand, with appointments booked out for two or more weeks. Generally speaking, if you are at 85% of capacity in your current facility, it’s time to start thinking about expanding or relocating your office.
  • You are referring too many patients out for specialty services. This represents lost revenue that could be kept in-practice if you can add an associate who offers these services.
  • Your technology is not keeping up with the competition. If your equipment is clearly dated and incapable of delivering a high level of efficiency and performance, it’s time to expand your services with a technology upgrade.

Prepare for the impact

Remember that an increased patient load not only impacts your facility with potential overcrowding and traffic flow issues, but also your staff and operations.

  • Staff– Be sure you have capable staff that can continue to provide excellent service to your full patient base. Consider including part-time or temporary staff positions to maximize your cash flow and build flexibility into your payroll until your patient base stabilizes.
  • Support – Don’t forget that more patients means you will be making a greater demand on your dental laboratory. Make sure your laboratory can continue to provide the turnaround time you expect, and add an additional lab to your support team if necessary.
  • Dental tools – Your computer software should be able to absorb an increase in patients, but not necessarily your dental tools. Take an inventory of your equipment and determine how many units you need of each tool to service your existing patient base. Then determine how many new patients you have added or plan to add this year – say, an additional 15%. Multiply your current inventory by 15%  and this will tell you the equipment purchases you will need to include in your practice growth budget.

Once you have carefully outlined a plan for the growth of your practice, understood the key growth indicators, and primed your facility for increased traffic, you have taken some of the key steps in preparing for the success that is bound to come your way.

My New Dentist Life: Dr. Emily or Dr. Hobart?

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a New Dentist Now blog series, My New Dentist Life, following a new dentist’s first year experiences out of dental school. The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author and are not intended to reflect the views, positions or policies of the ADA or the New Dentist Committee. To read previous articles in the series, visit ADA.org/mynewdentistlife.

Dr. Hobart

Dr. Hobart

After five years of undergrad, one year of studying for the Dental Admission Test and working as a dental assistant (In addition to two other jobs — applying to dental school is expensive!), four years of dental school, several written and clinical board exams, applying for my South Carolina license, applying for my South Carolina controlled substances license, applying for my DEA license and filling out a mountain of credentialing paperwork so that I can accept every insurance known to mankind…

As of last week, I am finally a practicing dentist!

My first week (I started Aug. 3) working at Family Dental went, to my surprise, really well. Besides having to get to know a new computer program (Eaglesoft), which slowed me down, everything went swimmingly.

I have to say, I was quite nervous the Sunday night before my first day. All that I could think about was the fact that I had not touched a handpiece in about three months.  Dentistry really is like riding a bike though. My first few patients felt as natural as if I had never left the clinic. I did a lot of comp exams and recall exams, several extractions and fillings (composite and amalgam) in one week — more than I had done in a few months in dental school. I also started a few dentures and had one root canal, which I thankfully was able to use my WaveOne that I rush-ordered! And most importantly, I met a lot of great new people — patients and staff.

The one awkward thing that happened this week, was when my office manager asked me what I wanted the staff to call me. At first she had been calling me Dr. Emily (which I think was because nobody knew how to pronounce my last name correctly).  I surprisingly get mispronunciations of my last name a lot, which is odd to me because it is only two syllables. I really had to think about it when she asked me. She is about my age and most of the assistants are about my age. In my head I was thinking, “You can just call me Emily.”  But in front of the patients? When I was an assistant, I called the doctors that I worked for Dr. _____ or doc. Eventually we decided on Dr. Hobart. Dr. Emily had a very pediatric dentist ring to it. This definitely caused me a little more anxiety than I would have thought though.  Being called “doctor” is just something that I have never experienced! It was a funny moment.

Dr. Emily Hobart is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and an estranged Canadian who grew up in Glendale, Arizona, where she attended dental school at Midwestern University. She is now finding her way as a new dentist in Columbia, South Carolina. In her free time, she loves running, rock climbing, pub trivia, karaoke and traveling!

Colleague Connection — Christina Ciano, D.M.D.

Editor’s note: Colleague Connection is a new feature of the Journal of the New Jersey Dental Association. Our first member-to-member profile is of Dr. Christina Ciano (NJDS – 2010) interviewed by David Lepelletier, D.M.D., (NJDS – 2012) a member of the NJDA Committee on New Dentists. Dr. Ciano’s pediatric dental practice is in Princeton, N.J.

Dr. Ciano

Dr. Ciano

Describe your path so far (pre-dental to present)

After growing up in Old Bridge, NJ, I attended Rutgers University as a pre-pharmacy student. I spent a summer working at Pathmark Pharmacy and quickly realized that pharmacy wasn’t for me. Luckily for me, my roommate’s dad was a dentist and introduced me to the world of dentistry, and from then on I was excited to be in pursuit of this great career. I did my dental school at UMDNJ and went on to complete my pediatric dentistry training at Columbia University.

What has been the hardest part of being a new dentist?

The hardest part about being a new dentist is trying to build rapport with your patients (and their parents) in a short period of time. With youth comes the assumption of inexperience and that is an obstacle that is difficult to overcome. I can’t make myself any older! But like anything else, the longer you do, the more confident you are and after a while I think that my patients would realize that although I’m young, they can trust that I know what I’m doing.

Why did you decide to open a practice relatively soon out of school?  What would you suggest to others in your situation?

Dentistry is a great profession and one of the things that makes it so special as far as healthcare professions go is that it affords you the opportunity to be your own boss and own a small business. There are just too many advantages to having your own practice and I always felt like I wanted to follow through with that. For me, I carried that mindset with me throughout my training and it made the transition easier because the decision had been made well before I actually did it.

My recommendation to others would be to do whatever you feel would make you happy. The reason dentistry is still a great profession is because of its flexibility. If owning your own office doesn’t seem like something that would make you happy, then don’t do it! I know many people that have found amazing associateships and feel very happy to not have the added stress of ownership.

What’s your take on group practices?

I think group practices are the trend in dentistry now. Patients are looking for convenience in a lot of different ways and having everyone under one roof is a nice service to provide for the patient. I think they make interdisciplinary cases easier to manage and make overall communication more precise.

How do you balance life/dentistry?

It’s a constant effort to keep my life in balance. I’m married with a young son and I’m expecting another baby at the end of the summer. I am very fortunate to receive a lot of help from family and friends and I think that makes things easier. Whenever I’m not working, I make an effort to spend quality time with my family, whether it’s something as simple as going out for breakfast on a Sunday or going to the beach for a day.

What do you do when you’re not working? 

When I’m not working, I spend as much time as I can with my husband and son. We enjoy spending our time outside, going for family bike rides, and walks around the neighborhood.

Describe a typical day for you.

I wake up and get lunches ready for everyone and get my son ready for the day. I drop him off at daycare and head over to my office. I have a “Master To Do List” at work where I prioritize what needs to get done. So whenever I have down time in between patients, I can focus on what’s important. My list includes marketing tasks, bill payment, insurance issues, ordering supplies, and all other things that need to get done to make the practice work. As a new office, a large proportion of my patients are new patients, which is great because I can take the time to get to know them and their families. After the work day is over, I head over to pick up my son and we go home and play, read, make dinner, etc.

What’s the most influential CE you’ve taken since graduating?

I took a course on starting your own practice a few years ago called Breakaway by Dr. Scott Leune. The course was like a playbook of what needs to get done in order to start your own office and it gave me a blueprint for my office. As a life-long student, I was yearning for a manual of sorts; something for me follow in order to figure out what to do, and Breakaway did that for me.

Why was now the right time to start your practice?

Now or never! I would imagine there are very few people who regretted starting their practice shortly after school, and probably a lot more people that wish they hadn’t waited so long. I had been out of dental school nearly 5 years when I started and I think that’s enough time to have a good hold on the dentistry side of things. And as far as the business side of things, you can’t really prepare for that. You just learn as you go.  A professor in dental school once told me that you are never going to be more financially ready to struggle then when you have just graduated from school.  You don’t have large expenses yet, you don’t have a huge mortgage or fancy car payments and it’s not as big of a sacrifice as it might be later on.  And I always remembered that.

Why start your own practice instead of buying? 

I actually looked into buying a practice before starting my own. I think that buying into an existing practice makes a lot of business sense. Unfortunately, at the time, there really wasn’t anything out there for purchase so I decided to bite the bullet and start from scratch.

What’s the vision you want for your dental career?

I hope to never lose my desire to learn and improve as both a dentist and a practice owner. I thoroughly enjoy going to CE courses because they rejuvenate my interest in being the best dentist I can be. I want to take care of the kids in my community and hope to see them grow into great adult dental patients. One day, I would love to teach dental school students or residents. I feel that is a great way to both give back and get a lot in return.

What do you think is different for a young dentist vs. what it was like to start a career twenty years to thirty ago?

Three words: Competition, and patient expectations. The dental field is far more competitive than it once was. There are just so many of us now! Opening is not as easy as just hanging up your shingle and waiting for the patients to walk through the door. In addition, patients have higher expectations for their healthcare. They want more of a say in their treatment and have expectations that every visit will be smooth and pain-free. As new dentists, we have the advantage of being up-to-date on the latest dental technology and being able to offer our patient state-of-the-art treatment.

If you would like to be profiled in a future issue or would like to interview a colleague, please contact Lorraine Sedor, managing editor, at 732-821-9400 or lsedor@njda.org.

This blog post, reprinted with minimal edits and permission, will be appearing in the upcoming issue of the Journal of the New Jersey Dental Association.

Finding value in ‘newness’ in your new dentist life

Dr. Joe Vaughn starts his cross-country drive June 8 from Birmingham, Ala. to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Seattle.

Dr. Joe Vaughn starts his cross-country drive June 8 from Birmingham, Ala. to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Seattle.

I drink two cups of coffee a day. Minimum.

Sometimes, I don’t even want to drink that second cup. I do it because I feel like I have to. Like people will look at me in a strange way if they found out. I can hear it now. “You only drink ONE cup a day?!” they would gasp.

Let me explain.

DrVaugn

(From left to right) Drs. Joe Vaughn, AJ Fennell and Ben Samuelson sightseeing in Los Angeles on a June 11 trip.

I’m a Seattleite. A new one. A very new one. My waiters still do double-takes whenever they see those beautiful red “ALABAMA” letters plastered across the top of my driver’s license.

I graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry just two months ago. It wasn’t seven days later before I had my entire life packed up in a moving truck heading across the country for Seattle, Washington. It was just me and two of my classmates. Traveling the country. Driving all through the night. Experiencing America as we never had before and may never again. The trip of a lifetime.

I grew up in Alabama. I ate middle school lunch pizza in Alabama. I studied college physics in Alabama. I spent my childhood looking into the eyes of Paul “Bear” Bryant and Joe Namath in the paintings above my parents’ fireplace. As a teenager, I sat in the stands amongst 100,000+ people in Tuscaloosa all yelling “Roll Tide” at the top of their lungs every time our team did something even remotely exciting.

So what am I doing here? Why am I sitting in this minimalist coffee shop in the Emerald City? Why do I eat Thai food now and drink lattes and ride the bus twice a day? Good question. Let’s talk about it.

Newness

I think there’s value in “newness.” Something new, something different. I have friends that will buy the newest version of the iPhone no matter how long it’s been since the last one came out. The iPhone is their fix of newness. That works for them, and that’s awesome. In a weird way, they are an inspiration to me.

For us dentists, finding that change, or that newness, is just as important. We all hear about those stories of the older guys who have fallen out of love with dentistry. The ones who have lost touch with their younger selves and just can’t wait to get out of the office. We may have even had a classmate or two drop out of school because they couldn’t handle the routine.

DrVaughn3

Dr. Vaughn and Dr. Devon Cooper on graduation day in Birmingham.

Newness gives us and our profession a tune-up. Seattle is a big change for me. But one day, I’ll have to find another source of newness.

Because newness is not geographical. You don’t necessarily need a new city. Your newness will probably be different than mine. It could be a specialty. A procedure you’ve never tried before. A new technique to an old procedure. Working one day each week in a community health clinic. Joining a social club. Reading a book. Challenging yourself with ideas you’ve never considered before. You could keep a journal or write a blog. Play an instrument. Bake something.

Whatever it may be, the point is to keep you, your life and your job fresh and fun and totally worth all that hard work you put in to get it. And a healthy happy you makes for a healthy happy profession. Which means me and you and everyone we know benefit from the newness you and I decide to add to our lives.

DrVaughn4

Dr. Vaughn with one of his clinical faculty members, Dr. Rama Kiran Chavali.

Dentistry promises great things. It is so overflowing with potential that even its opportunities have opportunities. But we always run the risk of falling into the pattern of dread and routine. And before you realize it, all of your techniques and equipment and philosophies are 15 years behind the times. Don’t be that dentist.

Instead, join me in adding newness to your life, whether it’s work or personal. And in turn, keep our profession crisp. Fresh. New. We are a part of one of the greatest professions in America, and we have our entire careers ahead of us.

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly “Roll Tide” to that.

Dr. Joe Vaughn is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. He grew up in Alabama and recently graduated from The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry in 2015. He now lives in Seattle, Washington, where he attends the General Practice Residency at the University of Washington. Two cups of coffee, writing and indie music are everyday occurrences for Joe. Go Seahawks and Roll Tide!

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Developing a technology plan

Editor’s note: This is the fourth article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Wells FargoDental technologies have evolved at a remarkable pace over the past decade due to the digitization of medical equipment. While the investment in digital technology can be significant, the benefits are real, and many – from increased production and expanded services, to improved administrative efficiencies and greater patient comfort, according to Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources. In fact, the goal for every new dentist today should be a fully digitized practice that makes one-day dentistry possible.

Jumping into the ‘digital waterfall’

There is a tangible connection between integrating new technologies as they become available, and positioning your business for future success. One way to ensure you are not left behind in the face of advancing technology is to jump head-first into the “digital waterfall” – a sequence of digitized dental solutions that typically occurs in phases and forms the basis for the transition to a fully digitized practice. Each phase of the digital waterfall lays the foundation for the next.

SIX PHASES OF THE DIGITAL WATERFALL

Phase

Digital System Outcome

1

System hardware Network construction with offsite backup

2

Practice management software Computerized patient information and website templates

3

Patient clinical records Ability to create a digital patient record (electronic health record or EHR)

4

Digital imaging Digital radiography and oral x-rays, for example

5

CAD/CAM impressions Capturing dental impressions digitally, eliminating molds

6

3D digital imaging Unlimited views of the bone structure of the teeth, face and neck

 

No matter where you are in digitizing your practice, work with your equipment supplier to create a technology plan with a key investment perhaps every three to five years. As you work towards a full digital platform for your practice, you will find you are not only more effective in treating your patients, but more competitive as well.

 

EHR considerations before you buy

Evaluating and comparing electronic health record vendors can be difficult. How do you know what level of EHR your practice needs? Should you involve your staff in the selection process? And how do you compare pricing models?

The ADA Center for Professional SuccessAccording to ADA Center for Professional Success, you should choose the vendor that best complements your practice needs. Conducting a formal request for proposal (RFP) process, as well as participating in vendor demos, can help you reach a decision.

The ADA Professional Product Review (Vol 9, Issue 2) takes on this topic in “Dental Electronic Health Record Systems: General Considerations Before You Buy.”

Top 10 dental treatment presentation mistakes

Dr. Don Deems, a columnist, speaker and author, shared with ADA Center for Professional Success the 10 most common mistakes when presenting treatment.

Center for Professional Success“As a certified professional coach to dentists, I also know too well the myriad of differing philosophies of practices, the plethora of ‘do it my way’ treatment presenting methods and the challenges we dentists have in working with our team members, who are vitally important to our success,” he wrote.

Here are the top 10 mistakes:

  • Mistake 1: Failure to listen to the patient.
  • Mistake 2: Incomplete diagnoses.
  • Mistake 3: Herding patients in — and out — of your practice.
  • Mistake 4: “Explainitis”, better known as explaining, explaining, explaining with little feedback or time for questions from your patient.
  • Mistake 5: Rushing the presentation process.
  • Mistake 6: Delegating the treatment presentation.
  • Mistake 7: Diagnosing based on prejudice.
  • Mistake 8: Not answering patient’s questions directly and truthfully.
  • Mistake 9: Substituting media-based treatment explanations for developing a trusting relationship.
  • Mistake 10: Promising treatment you cannot reliably deliver.

To read more about each mistake, click here.