A Complete Guide to Starting a Dental Practice

how to starting a dental practice startup business

As great as being a dentist can be, showing up to work in a dental practice every day is a lot more fun when you work for yourself! Instead of answering to the owners of the practice or losing patients to other dentists on the team, owning your own dental practice allows you to call the shots and provide a consistent quality of care. 

Not to mention, it's such an exciting and fulfilling experience to have your own practice! The hard part is just getting started. 

If you're not sure where to begin when starting a dental practice, follow the seven steps below to get your new business off the ground.


1. Choose Your Specialty 

What's your favorite kind of patient to work with? Do you enjoy pediatric dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, or doing serious procedures?

These are just a few of the things to consider as you set off on your own. While you may have worked in different areas of dentistry over your time working for others, it's best to have one thing to focus on when starting your own practice. Choose that and stick with it for a few years, and when the time is right you can expand from there. 


2. Find a Location 

Once you decide what area of dentistry you want to focus on, consider the space that your practice will need. You may be able to have a simple practice with a waiting room and one area to see your patients in. Or, you might need a few other rooms for x-rays, equipment, and maybe an extra visit area or two. 

Either way, your new dental practice needs a place to call home! So, be sure to contact a commercial realtor sooner rather than later to scope out the perfect location for your practice. 


3. Determine Your Budget  

Before you sign the dotted line on a property to practice in, figure out your budget. Consider all the costs of starting a dental practice - from the overhead costs like the electric and water bills of the location to equipment and savings. 

Don't be afraid to wait to get to work in order to build your budget up, either. Look into all the financing options you have, including personal savings, a business loan, or even getting someone to invest in your new practice.


4. Build a Team 

Even if you have all the money you need to start your dental practice and have already found the ideal location, you can't open this business on your own.  You need a team!

Otherwise, who will take calls and schedule patient appointments? Who will check in patients when they arrive or do the x-rays for you while you're with other patients?

Although you don't need to hire a huge team, you should have core staff members you can count on - but maybe hire one or two more than you think you need in case you experience dental employee turnover. Additionally, a business advisor or mentor wouldn't hurt.


5. Purchase Dental Tools  

The next investment on your journey to opening a dental practice is to purchase all the tools you need! Make a list of every single piece of equipment that includes everything big and small. 

You need chairs and brushing sinks for your patients and x-ray tools to assess them with. But also, small things like business cards, handheld tools to work on teeth, and technical things - such as computer monitors and keyboards. 

Other pieces of equipment to add to the list include:

  • uniforms
  • sanitary equipment
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash and small cups

Basically, if you have to ask yourself whether you need something or not, you're better off getting it (so long as your budget allows). 


6. Invest in Marketing

Here's something you better have room in your budget for - marketing! You can't go through all the trouble of starting a dental practice only to have barely any patients. You should position yourself to start getting new patients in the door as soon as your doors open. 

It's smart business to market before you're open for business because this brings in cash quickly. Plus, it helps you build a reputation as a reputable, go-to dentist and starts spreading the word about your services!


7. Stay Afloat! 

While it's good to start building a cash flow as soon as possible, it's even more important to keep that coming in. Starting a dental practice is about much more than preparing for opening day - it's about what you do after that day to keep your business afloat. 

This will make you wear many different hats. As the owner of your own practice, you can't just show up for work, treat your patients, and call it a day. You have to balance books and consider financing and think of innovative marketing tactics and continuously train your team. You need to be involved in the day to day aspects of running your practice and find time to hone your craft, too. 

It may sound like a lot - and it can be at times- but remember, it's incredibly worth it!


Starting a Dental Practice With a Partner

The good news about the difficulty of starting a dental practice is that it can be a bit easier if you decide to go into business with a partner. Not only will this help you take on all the responsibility of budgeting, finding a location, purchasing equipment, and building a team but it can also help diversify your practice if you choose someone with a specialty who complements yours. 

However, you may have a few unique challenges should you take this route! No matter what you decide, though, keep your focus on your dream of owning your own practice - from there, the details will fall into place. 

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