Let’s face it– you didn’t pull all-nighters studying for the DAT and then work tirelessly for a DDS to learn how to run a business. But now that you’ve acquired the expertise necessary to thrive in the dentistry profession, what should you do if you want to launch your own practice? Every big business starts small. So, while it might seem like an overwhelming task, starting a dental practice isn’t so scary when you have a sense of direction and know what to expect. First things first, you need to be ready to tackle entrepreneurship.
An entrepreneurial mindset
No one ever said opening a dental practice was easy. There’s a ton of work and responsibility involved when you’re flying solo. This is why it’s important to make sure you take time to prepare yourself for entrepreneurship.
When you’re your business’s greatest asset, your practice’s bottom line depends on you. This means you have to be self-motivated to meet the goals you set. You also have to be willing to hold yourself accountable for any deadlines you miss. But, if you’re passionate about your work and ready to call the shots, launching a dental business can be very rewarding and make you more money than if you were employed by someone else.
Aside from taking on more responsibility, having an entrepreneurial mindset also means being comfortable with uncertainty
Embrace the unknown
Think about when you’ve been an employee of a private dental practice or a larger corporate practice. You likely worked a fixed and predictable schedule and had weekends off to be with your family and friends. Likewise, your income was consistent each month since you were a salary-based employee.
On the other hand, starting a dental practice as an entrepreneur means your income will be perpetually varied. Also, you may not have weekends off and may have to work long hours if you don’t have a full staff. While this unpredictable nature of being your own boss can seem daunting, you can mitigate any anxiety by writing down a solid business plan.
Starting a dental practice with a plan
Starting a business is an exciting endeavor. But this doesn’t mean you should just jump and hope a net will appear. Wishing and hoping for success isn’t a strategy. That’s why you need to take the time and effort to come up with a detailed dental office business plan. It’s critical to your success that you plan every step, not only for starting your practice but for ensuring it will continue to grow.
In your plan, make sure to include potential locations for your practice, the required financing and how you’ll acquire it, and a marketing strategy. You should also include if and when you plan to sell your dental practice in the future.
Find the best spot to set up shop
You’ve heard the saying, “Location, location, location!” It’s no secret that scoring a prime location gives you an edge in starting a dental practice. But, before you plant your roots, make sure you do your due diligence of researching the local market so you can assess the competition and determine if certain areas would better suit your practice.
Here are a few factors to consider when looking for the right location.
- Pick a spot for your practice that’s visible and centrally located. The last thing you want after putting in so much hard work to start a business is to move into a spot where no one can find you– or a spot that isn’t easily accessible.
- Make sure your location isn’t already filled with dental practitioners who offer the same services as you. For example, if you’re a pedodontist, you don’t want to be down the block from two other pedodontists.
- Your practice should be in an area that your target patients frequent. So, you’ll need to put on your marketing hat or call in an expert to figure out the optimal location to attract your target audience.
- A great location means nothing if you can’t afford it. Make sure to double-check your budget in your “starting a dental practice” business plan before you scout for locations.
Gather the right amount of funds
Every practice is different, but the typical amount of working capital required for starting a dental practice falls between $250k and $450k. While this is a pretty huge amount to have readily available in cash, many aspiring practice owners turn to outside funding sources such as a loan.
How much does starting a dental practice cost?
The first thought that usually comes to mind when considering the cost to open a dental practice is the rent for the physical location. But you also need to factor in the costs for equipment and supplies, employees, dental practice insurance, and advertising efforts. Likewise, if you’re buying a dental practice that you plan to spruce up, you should account for dental practice remodeling fees as well.
You may have valuation fees
If you’re serious about figuring out how to buy a dental practice, you need to understand how to value a dental practice. This is because valuation fees may also tie into your dental practice start-up costs.
Conducting a valuation is especially important if you’re seeking a loan to finance a new business. Showing your lender a practice valuation will confirm that your decision to buy a new practice is going to be worth it. Lenders don’t like to dole out funds to risky borrowers. Thus, a valuation can prove that your new dental business will offer sufficient security for the loan.
Make marketing a top priority
Neglecting to market your new business is like starting a dental practice and not telling anyone about it. You could open a practice with the most cutting-edge technology and have excellent precision in your craft, but without the right marketing tactics, you may never even get the chance to show off your new practice and prove your skills.
So, as the practice owner, it’s on you to get the word out to your target patients. Patients are going to be the lifeblood of your business, so you must design and employ a plan for how to attract and engage them.
Your marketing plan for attracting new patients will be heavily impacted by who you’re targeting. For example, a cosmetic dental practice and a family dental practice are each going to use different messaging for attracting the right patients.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good website
In today’s digital era, a business without a website may as well be a business that doesn’t exist. When starting a dental practice, the website you create will essentially function as your business card. So, it has to leave a stellar impression on your target patients.
A well-optimized site will not only make you look professional and attract new patients, but it’ll also enhance your brand recognition and function as your chief marketing tool. It’s pretty easy to create and optimize a website using builder platforms such as Wix or WordPress. But you shouldn’t feel pressure to do this all on your own.
Starting your own practice doesn’t mean you have become an advertising whiz and an SEO expert. You can outsource these tasks to an online marketing firm, a dental advertising company, or freelancers who specialize in marketing.
Establish a team you can count on
Ensuring your staff receives comprehensive and consistent training is vital to the success of your dental practice development. As the team leader and practice owner, it’s on you to make sure your team understands dental practice efficiency techniques. This will enable your practice to evolve with the latest innovations in the dentistry profession.
Ready to pull the trigger?
If you’re determined to figure out how to start a dental practice, don’t let the responsibilities of entrepreneurship scare you from taking the leap of faith. While it may feel like pulling teeth in the beginning, it can also be the most rewarding career move you ever make.
Check out this easy read that provides specific steps and tips for starting a dental practice.