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The Fine Line Between Being a Dentist and a Business Owner


Dentistry is a business — a delicate balance between clinical skills and business performance. But if you’re not taking your business owner role as seriously as your clinician role, you could face significant challenges on your path to success. 


Dental school provides the technical requirements to become a dentist, but there are no similar requirements to open a business. Dental graduates don’t require business qualifications to open a practice because, simply put, nobody gets hurt but yourself if you fail. And this is why it’s crucial to take the business side of dentistry just as seriously as your clinical skills.


When dentists graduate from dental school, they have two main options. First, approximately 10 percent will continue their education with graduate work, additional training, internships, or joining a different type of dental specialty. The second option is the more popular choice amongst new grads — finding a practice to join that’s looking for a dentist to hire. This option is typically the most comfortable and most common choice, as you have the opportunity to kickstart your career in an established environment. About 10 to 15 percent of graduates, otherwise known as risk-takers, jump in headfirst as business owners and figure it out as they go. But the truth is, operating a successful business is not any easier than practicing dentistry. 


It’s no secret that as a business owner, you have the potential to thrive financially — but it doesn’t happen right away. A dental practice is a business that takes years to develop, and the truth is, you will lose money along the way. So, to survive, two critical aspects must be taken seriously: human resources and marketing. 


Your staff is what makes the business operate efficiently and is an accurate representation of you. The quality of the work you want to achieve should translate through your employees, but assembling a team of qualified employees can be complicated. The first thing you should establish is the role you’re trying to fill, and once you interview candidates, it’s essential to determine if these people will be the right fit for your practice and your practice philosophies. As you navigate the hiring process, you must focus on competency, dependability, flexibility, communication, and organizational skills. By assembling a team of talented team members, your patients will enjoy a more positive experience and serve as ambassadors for your practice with positive word-of-mouth referrals. 


Your patients are your customers, and a targeted marketing plan will help them understand why your dental practice is the one they should choose and, more importantly, a practice they can trust regarding their oral health needs. Marketing your dental practice ensures that it’s visible to patients, and this should begin with taking your online presence seriously. A good website will allow you to maintain your reputation, communicate your services, book appointments online, post educational blog content, and much more. Additionally, creating a social media presence and dedicating a team member to keep it current will encourage patients to follow you and provide the necessary feedback to attract new patients.


You’ve graduated dental school; now what? It’s time to figure out what’s next. Do you have the determination and confidence to open your own practice? Do you properly grasp what it takes to effectively open a practice from scratch, hire staff, and market yourself to potential patients? Or, are you more interested in joining a solo practitioner or dental group? Whether a new graduate or an experienced clinician, it’s important to remember that business savvy is vital for success.

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