For an aspiring dentist, having your own dental practice is a dream come true. In addition to becoming your own boss, you also take a step towards financial freedom as opposed to depending on a dentist salary.
However, starting a dental practice is not a walk in the park. A common misconception that dental students have is that all you need to do is open a dental office and you’re set for success. Understand that there is a difference between practicing dentistry and running a dental practice.
You could have a decade of experience as a dentist but if you have zero experience in business management then your practice will fail.
Are you a qualified dentist looking to open your own dental practice? If so then you are in the right place.
Most dentists do not have a clue about how to go about starting their dental practice. Fortunately, we have provided an elaborate step by step guide for you on how to go about the entire process.
To learn more about starting a dental business, keep reading.
1. Research Everything
As more and more dentists step up their own practices, it has become essential to conduct research on a number of factors pertaining to your venture. For instance, you need to research:
- How much you need in capital
- The best locations to open your practice
- The legal requirements to attain a permit/license and certification to operate the dental clinic
- Where to get supplies
- Where to attain additional funding if you can’t foot the entire cost
- How to network with other dentists via medical associations
- Common challenges faced by startup dental practices
- Best marketing strategies for a new dental clinic
All the above factors are essential to the survival of your business. Ignoring or neglecting simple factors such as location could have a negative impact on the chances of your practice thriving.
Hence, avoid jumping the gun and research as much as possible before committing. The more you research the more insights you gain. The more insightful you become the more you are capable of refining your business and creating contingencies for anything that might go against your original business plan.
2. Get a practitioner’s License
A common mistake first-timers make is to handle the legal aspects of opening a dental practice last. Understand that in any medical profession, the legal processes of registering as a private practitioner are very stringent. Hence it can take months to get a license.
If you set up shop without a license then you will be paying rent and staff members out of your own pocket because you can’t operate with one.
In addition to getting registered by the state, you also need to register with the DEA and get a National Provider Identification Number. Still, you have to apply for insurance, and this could take months to get approved.
Hence, to avoid any delays, it is advisable to handle the legal requirements of opening a dental practice first.
3. Create a Budget
Stating a business is a capital intensive undertaking and hence a dental practice is no exception. A budget is essential in determining just how much money you require to get your practice off the ground.
Additionally, a budget helps you figure out how much additional funding you require.
When coming up with a budget, it is essential to note down your estimates on the higher side. This gives you some wiggle room so as not to under budget,
Key points to include in the budget include:
- Renting a premise for a number of months (six months preferably)
- Purchasing equipment and supplies
- Hiring an assistant and a secretary
- Setting up a cushion fund for running the business before it is able to cater for its self
A cushion fund is essential because you can never tell how well/bad business is going to perform in the first few months. If the practice is not able to cater for the bills, the fund should enable you to keep the lights on as well as pay your staff for the first few months.
4. Find a Premise
Finding a premise for your dental practice has more to do with location than the actual space. The location of an ideal dental practice should be somewhere easily accessible as well as in good proximity to your targeted audience.
When looking for an ideal location it is essential to consider the number of dental practices in the area to avoid starting your practice in an already saturated area. If you can find a location where there is a limited number of dentists and a good patient concentration; then you have hit the jackpot.
When you find the ideal premises, you should ensure that it fits into your long term budget. Think about how much you can afford to pay rent under your budget. Should your practice not kick off immediately, how long can you afford to rent the premises and cater for utilities and service charges on your budget?
Avoid being overzealous on the premise.
5. Purchase Equipment
Once you have secured an ideal premise, the next step is to set up shop. Setting up a smart dental practice doesn’t mean you need to go overboard on your purchases. You can start with the essentials and work your way up.
The essentials you need include furniture, essential dental equipment, medical supplies, and a computer or two.
Before purchasing these items, make sure you compare and contrast price quotes from different suppliers so as to get the best value for money. Remember you are still on a budget and hence if there is a chance to save money without compromising on quality, take it.
6. Attracting Clients
Now that you have a dental clinic setup, your next priority is to get patients.
The first step towards marketing your practice to potential patients should be a search engine optimized website. Find a suitable firm that specializes in SEO and have them walk you through the best SEO strategies they have for a dental website.
If you can’t afford the overall cost of the website’s full optimization, it is advisable to focus on local SEO optimization. For dentists, Local SEO enables potential patients in your area to find your practice whenever they use the internet to search for ‘dentist near me’
You also need to brand your website in accordance to your area of specialization. For instance, if you opt to become a pediatric dentist, then your website should be optimized towards that specific area. To get an idea of how to it should get done, check out this pediatric dentist.
In addition to online marketing, you should also consider other client acquisition and retention strategies to ensure you get longterm and loyal clients.
Final Word on Starting a Dental Practice
If you are going to start your own dental practice, the above steps are a simple guide on how to go about it. However, you should know that this is a business and hence, you need to take up a business class in order to learn how to handle the business aspect of the practice.
Additionally, you need to get professional advice from accountants, marketers as well as other veteran dentists. This will ultimately contribute to your overall success in starting and running your dental practice.
For more tips on how to start a business, stay tuned to our blog.