Whether you are fresh out of dental school or are fed up working for a large dental practice, the prospect of going it alone is an enormous pull for entrepreneurial types. But before you invest your entire savings into starting a dental practice, there are a few things you should know. Let’s take a closer look at some of the problems you might encounter with a private practice.
You can’t be ‘just a dentist.’
The simple fact is that you need a lot of business skills to go it alone – and you won’t just be a dentist. You will be a marketer, an admin expert, a financial whizz, and a negotiator – and a lot more besides. And if you love dentistry, you have to understand that your time doing it will be shortened in comparison to when you are working for a large company. Days will be longer, holidays could be non-existent for some time, and there is an awful lot to do every day, even if there aren’t enough hours.
Hiring can be tricky
With little experience of hiring people, it will be a struggle to build the perfect team straight away. You will make mistakes, and hire people that don’t quite cut it – or aren’t as invested in your practice as you. Sure, you are likely to know what you want from your dental assistants, but almost every other position could prove problematic. In fact, it might be helpful for you to make a human resources professional with dental practice experience your very first hire. They will help you lay out some ground rules, employ the right people, and develop a stronger, more loyal team.
Supply chain is critical
Another area of vital importance is your supply chain. Your dentistry skills will count for nothing if you have zero equipment to work with, or the ordering process to ensure you have everything you need. While the likes of BF Mulholland provide a range of dental supplies, it’s also important to understand that you won’t have the buying power of bigger companies, who will get bulk discounts.
Location is everything
Just like any other business, where you locate your premises will be critical. While dentists don’t rely on ‘walk-in’ trade, it is still vital to have a presence in your local community. Marketing can help, of course, but nothing beats having a prime location to keep a steady flow of new patients coming through your door. However, bear in mind that these central areas tend to cost a lot of money in rent – or mortgage. Unless you can guarantee the patient volume to make it worth your while, it might be best to find somewhere a little less central, but far more cost-effective.
Dentistry is changing
While you might dream of success in private practice, it’s going to be tough, and the chances are that you just won’t survive by yourself. At some point, it will become necessary to build your practice, approach potential partners, and build up your business to compete with other large practices. The painful truth is that the simple one-dentist practice is slowly becoming a thing of the past – and you will need to be aware of this trend.