5 Pieces of Advice for New or Aspiring Practice Owners

Young colleagues happily discussing their work

Lessons learned from established practice owners

For new dentists, the idea of practice ownership can be an intimidating concept. When the core focus of your education and training has been on the clinical side of dentistry, the business operations side may feel foreign. Aspects, like hiring and leading a team, managing the financials or making equipment and office decisions, can seem overwhelming.

In March 2023, dental students, residents, associates and current owners gathered in one room for the first-ever Practice Ownership Program, hosted at the Hinman Dental Meeting in Atlanta.

The Practice Ownership Program was a day full of education and networking, all with one goal in mind: to inspire new dentists along the path to practice ownership. Sharing a glimpse of the program, the pieces of advice below come from established practice owners who want new dentists to know that ownership is possible.

1. You’ve Got This

Tell yourself and repeat it again: practice ownership is not as far off or as difficult as you think. Despite any trepidation, whether it’s dental school debt lingering on your mind or anxiety about business ownership responsibilities, you can become a practice owner. You’ve worked incredibly hard to get to where you are today, and with that continued mindset and a strong support team at your side, you’ll be able to grow a successful practice. 

Most new challenges seem daunting before you try them, but just like college and then dental school, do the work to prepare and jump in. You’ve got this.

2. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Little Things

There are many moving parts to owning a dental practice, but you don’t have to get caught up in the little things. Think about the big picture, envision what you ultimately want the practice to be and imagine how these details may play a role in that. If your concern is over a miniscule matter that doesn’t have a significant impact on your overall vision, it’s not worth allowing that to consume you.

This is your practice, and you’ll want to stay involved in the process. However, it’s important to realize that there are pieces you can control and there are pieces that matter. Focus on the things that matter and are within your control.

You can also engage people to help you in areas outside of your wheelhouse. Educating yourself and biting off one chunk at a time will help keep your eyes on the big picture.

3. Ensure Your Practice and Staff are Aligned with Your Vision

Whether you’re buying into a practice with existing staff or building from the ground up, you’ll want to clearly communicate your goals and vision for your practice. This will allow your team to understand the big picture and be on the same page as you strive for those goals. Perhaps you want to add more doctors in the future, increase your number of operatories or cultivate a successful practice while managing a healthy work-life balance.

Remember that the previous owner may have had a different culture, personality or communication style. Start small and take the time to learn about the team. People will follow if they feel cared for and listened to.

When your team understands what you want to accomplish, you’ll be able to grow your practice according to your vision and easily plot a path to get there.

4. Utilize Your Mentors

As one of the panelists from the Practice Ownership Program said, “Find yourself a mentor, or three!” Mentors can be valuable resources throughout your entire dental career. Consider the friends or colleagues who have been in your shoes. They have likely experienced the same emotions that you’re feeling and understand the types of concerns flooding your mind.  

Look for people who have traits you admire. Their practice doesn’t have to be the same as what you aspire to, but the goal is to take the knowledge they have gained and apply it to your world. Ask for their help and wisdom. Take in their experience of practice ownership and express your interest in sharing insight and gaining new perspectives.

5. Have a Team of Experts Behind You

Purchasing a practice is not only a professional transaction but also a personal milestone, and building a team of experts will help you smoothly navigate the nuances of this journey. Find good people who have your best interest in mind and can walk you through the various parts of your needs as an owner. Your team may include accountants, practice consultants and dental-specific vendors.

Leveraging a dental transition team and bringing on an advisor such as NDP, will ensure you’re guided toward the route that best fits your goals and vision. Our team can walk you through the review of your practice opportunity, the letter of intent process, contract negotiations, all the way through the closing steps.

Are you ready to see what a successful transition into ownership looks like for you? Reach out to our team today to set up a complimentary call.