When should you start your own dental practice? – part one

From working autonomously to understanding the market, Ads Thanki explains the top considerations for professionals looking to open their own dental practice.

Starting a dental practice is a big step, and it’s not something to be undertaken lightly. Before moving forward, consider whether starting a dental practice makes sense for you. There are many factors to keep in mind, including the personal and financial impact that being a business owner will have on your life. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind.

Assessing personal preparedness: am I comfortable working autonomously?

For individuals venturing into the establishment and management of their dental business, a key consideration is their comfort with working independently. In contrast to being an associate in an established clinic with fixed hours and personal downtime during nights and weekends, as a practice principal , greater responsibility awaits. The commitment extends to longer working hours and potentially sacrificing the previous level of freedom. Predicting income on a regular basis may become challenging.

However, the endeavour offers the satisfaction of shaping the practice according to personal preferences, defining and creating a culture and articulating your patient journey and, if successful, yielding higher earnings compared to working under someone else.

If the notion of being in charge appeals to you, and you are prepared to invest time and effort in establishing your dental practice from the ground up, you might be ready to embark on this entrepreneurial journey.

Financial preparations: sufficient working capital considerations

Initiating a dental practice necessitates substantial working capital, often reaching up to £500,000. Whether through readily available funds, a strong credit profile, or collateral to secure a loan, financial preparedness is crucial. This capital is vital for securing a location , acquiring equipment and supplies, hiring staff, covering salaries and benefits, and implementing marketing strategies to attract a new clientele. 

A well-structured plan facilitates goal achievement and enhances the potential to secure financing if needed

Evaluation of workload tolerance

A common oversight among new dental practice owners is underestimating the workload required to establish and operate a successful practice. Be prepared for a significant investment in time, energy, (almost certainly compromising time with loved ones) and creativity are prerequisites for attracting new patients and achieving success.

Realistic self-assessment is imperative to ensure readiness for the challenges associated with entrepreneurship and to determine whether the current life stage allows for meeting these demands.

Significance of a comprehensive business plan

Success in a new venture necessitates a detailed roadmap. Business plans function as guides, aiding entrepreneurs in navigating challenges. Key components include budget details, planned services / treatments with corresponding fees, payment policies, implementation of insurance plans, competitor analysis, and marketing strategies. A well-structured plan facilitates goal achievement and enhances the potential to secure financing if needed.

Understanding the local market

Market research, crucial for a business plan, deserves separate attention due to its significance. Insight into the local market, including population size, existing dentists, services offered, and competitive landscape, is vital for informed decision-making. Tailoring strategies based on local dynamics is essential, considering factors such as the presence of competitors, including national dental care chains.

Legal considerations: associate contract review

For those with existing associate contracts, a thorough review with a legal professional is advisable before venturing into independent ownership. Non-compete clauses in contracts may impose restrictions on opening a new practice within a specified timeframe or geographical area. Although the consensus suggests any working restriction is difficult to implement, understanding your specific legal obligations ensures compliance and prevents potential conflicts.

Cost considerations for opening a dental practice

Determining the cost of opening a dental practice is probably the most common question asked. Costs can range from £200,000 to £500,000+, influenced by practice size, location, and required equipment. Additional financial considerations include having approximately a six months runway of cashflow to cover staff, clinical costs, clinic expenses, business administration, discretionary costs, and your own expenses even if you plan to live like a monk! Realistic monthly cost estimates are crucial. Being prepared to meet financial obligations is essential for sustainable operations.

Check out Dentistry.co.uk in April for part two.

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