Important Things To Think About Before Diving Into The Stress of Dental Practice Startups

by Dr. Vicky Prokopiou

A Dental Practice Startup is no walk in the park. You need to have a strong ‘why’, a clear vision and be organised. This is my third dental practice startup and I now do not skip a beat. I know exactly what you need and would like to offer you my tips to consider before you dive in.

Owning a business in itself is a challenge. Here are my top tips to think about before starting a dental practice. These concepts could also be applied to other businesses.

MOTIVATION

Have a clear idea and your ‘why?’. Consider the following questions and ask yourself:

  • What is your Why?
  • What is it that is motivating you to want to own a practice and set up a practice?
  • Is it a dream that you’ve thought about for a while?
  • Can you see an opportunity that no-one else has seen as yet?
  • Are you passionate to be a practice owner?
  • Are you a good leader?
  • Are you prepared?
  • Have you owned a business before?
  • Why not look into an existing practice?
  • What are the benefits and pitfalls of setting up a new practice?

RESEARCH

Consider needs of the immediate and surrounding community. Know where you want to set up.

  • Research how many other practices are around you.
  • Take the time to visit the towns or suburbs personally, and do it more than once, on different days, and at different times of the day.
  • Existing dental services in the area.
  • How you can stand out from the existing practices.
  • Census data research.
  • Use maps and search engines to your advantage.

LOCATION

Once you have decided on a possible location you need to assess the existing real estate. 

  • Go for drives and look at properties that you are interested in.
  • Search real estate websites for available properties. 
  • Contact real estate agents for buildings that are for lease, sale or that may be coming on the market in the near future but have not been advertised as yet.

PASSION FOR OWNING AND RUNNING A DENTAL PRACTICE

Remember that this is a long term commitment and especially if this is your first time owning a dental practice or setting one up, it is a very steep learning curve. 

Know that:

  • Cost of fit out is very high. you can’t set it up overnight.
  • Financial Commitment can  put a lot of pressure on you as you need to pay the bills.
  • You have to work on the business and in the business.
  • You need to be a people person and an effective manager & leader.
  • Do not let the workload consume you. Train and delegate to ease your load and allow you to focus on your strengths.

FUNDING

You need to prove to lenders that your skills can make you money. You could use guarantors if they are willing to back you or you may need to wait and show employment financials before a bank can loan you money.

You must be able to make business projections and a viable business plan. I’ve had to to this each time. These days you can get creative and prepare a very aesthetically pleasing document on Word, Photoshop, Canva, Powerpoint, or whatever else you like to use to create documents.

Talk to your financial advisor and/or accountant who can further guide you as everyone’s financial position is different.

A very handy fact is that brokers can be helpful, particularly if you’ve never applied for a loan before. In case you haven’t yet heard, the big banks also have health departments and solely deal with health professionals.

MAKING IT HAPPEN

There are various options for you from here. What you go for depends on many factors such as your existing knowledge, experience, finances, and time to oversee the project.

You also need to know the process and get council approval for any works.

A practice can be created by:

  • Designing and project managing yourself.
  • Engaging a designer and then doing your own project managing or engaging an experienced fit out company.
  • Engaging a practice fit out company that designs and completes your fit out. This could be the more stress free option when you select the right people for you.

RUNNING THE PRACTICE

Avoid giving yourself unattainable loads of pressure. Decide how much clinical time and managing time you want in your week. Find and train individuals in areas so that you can focus on areas that you wish. And, most importantly, learn to switch off from work pressures when you are home. Enjoy your family.

EQUIPMENT

You likely need to have chosen equipment before your designs are actually finalised.

  • The designer needs to know your exact model of chair, sterilisers, ultrasonic machines, xray machines etc for provisioning, cabinetry and safety measures.
  • Order your items in advance as everything comes from overseas. And now with COVID, items likely take longer to arrive on our shores.

CONSUMABLES & OTHER ITEMS

Think about everything that you may need to practice dentistry and undertake your procedures. Infection control items, soap/ sanitiser dispensers, paper towel dispensers, consumables, small equipment for extractions, root canal therapy tools, televisions, stationary, tablets, emergency bag/defibrillator. There are so many things that you can prepare for in advance so that you are ready to go on opening day.

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

Go with what you know or choose something new. Do you want cloud based or desktop that backs up remotely.

Strongly consider IT and security for privacy of information.

INSURANCE

Property, Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance is vital for any business. Get these up to date. Again shop around yourself or engage an experienced broker to save you time.

FINDING YOUR TEAM

Use all available advertising avenues. 

  • Ask people you know.
  • Get clear job ad information together to spell out exactly
  • Consider exactly what team members you need.
  • Use job recruitment agencies if you want.
  • Advertise on social media, your website, Seek… Yes get a website! Hot tip: Get your website up and running prior to launching your business and pre-promote! Drive people to your business.
  • Know your business model and visualise the type of employees that you want in your business.

TRAINING THE TEAM

  • Get systems in place and ready for your team. Lead by example.
  • Have an organised induction and training program. 
  • Engage in others who are experienced in various fields to help you.  

Don’t be fooled that your work is now done. Your hard work has only just begun.

Embrace your journey ahead. Remember that Above It is here to help you master your craft and balance your life.

If you want to find out more, follow and like us on Facebook.  

And have a look at the 1:1 coaching with me or check out our 1:1 COACHING JOURNEY.

If you prefer to see and hear these tips and more, go to the Above It Youtube channel.

See the Practice Startup video here.

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