Starting a Dental Practice: 8 Simple Tips For Success

No dentist has regretted their career path so far. This is a line of work that proves to have high success rates and every challenge you come across in your career can be a new opportunity to grow. Things only get better if you choose to open your own dental practice. But this huge step doesn’t come without risks. If you need a little guide on how to start a dental practice and avoid making any big mistakes, you’re in the right place: 

Arm yourself with knowledge

Even though dental offices rarely fail, if they do, they can ruin people’s lives, mainly financially. Just a few years ago, a person could start a dental practice and have a line of people waiting to make an appointment, but the times have changed. Do a lot of research, talk to practice owners, find out about the challenges and learn about how to overcome them. 

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Create a business plan

As a medical professional, you understand the importance of having a clear plan of action when treating a patient—the same goes for running a business. Having a good business plan can mean a difference between failure and success. Luckily, these are easy to make, and you can get a template online, from resource centres, lenders or even your state dental association. 

Settle on a location

Determining a location for your dental practice is one of the most important decisions you will make for your business. Before you even start looking for spaces for rent, you need to do some market research of the area. The average number of dentists per 100,000 people in the US is 55 (varies from state to state and country to country) so find a location that needs someone like you. Also, study your competition and see how you can stand out. 

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Create a list of expenses

Besides renting the space for your practice, you will also need to equip it—it’s the biggest expense you’ll have by far. Make sure to find an equipment seller with a good reputation so you can obtain quality yet affordable equipment. If you invest in quality diamond burs, they will last you for a long time and allow you to show off your expertise and skill. It’s worth investing in quality basic supplies that will improve your dental results. Besides equipment, you’ll also need office furniture, hardware and software. If you’re scared to make big purchases at the beginning, you can consider leasing certain equipment until you’re ready to upgrade. 

Secure the money

Banks are more than willing to lend to dentists, but they are also not very familiar with the funding you need. However, major lenders in your area probably understand your needs and can provide you with the money. Pro tips: try not to base your loan decision just on interest rate—it’s just one of the factors that should drive your decision. 

Stay on budget

Usually, a dental startup costs between $500,000 and $600,000 to launch. The total amount depends on your landlord allowance, construction costs, equipment (dental and office hardware and software) and medical and office supplies, as well as some working capital to keep you going in the beginning while you admit new patients and wait for reimbursements. Once you get your funds approved by a lender and start your practice, make sure to stay within the budget. Try to apply for a little more money than you have predicted you’ll need, just so you can cover any unforeseen expenses until your practice develops. 

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Make business goals

Making business goals is not crucial for the normal functioning of your practice, but it is crucial for your focus and motivation. Having short-, moderate- and long-term goals that are achievable and measurable will keep you focused and force you to grow as a dentist and businessperson. For instance, you can set the bar for a certain number of patients per week, the number of cosmetic appointments, the number of dollars earned, etc. Thanks to your goal, you will be disciplined and responsible for your business and have something to hold you and your team accountable. 

Keep your job

Starting a new dental practice will overburden you with debt. Many of us struggle with student loans, car loans and home mortgages already—adding practice debt to that load is crazy. However, if you manage to maintain a guaranteed income after you start your own business and develop a strong customer base, you’ll be in the green. Many dentists choose to keep their outside associate position even after their practice opens for business. Why? Well, you’ll have a predictable income to pay bills. For starters, consider keeping two or three days of associate work per week and reduce the hours as your practice grows. 

Wrapping up

Running a dental practice takes a lot of work and effort, but it’s more than rewarding in many ways. You will be your own boss while doing something you love and earning a pretty sum of money in the process—it’s the dream. Just make sure to follow these steps to make that dream a reality. 

By Lana Hawkins

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