Start your own med practice

Let’s Talk: Do you have what it takes to start your own practice?

By: Treloar & Heisel

“Let’s Talk” is a series of conversations with industry thought leaders on topics surrounding the business of dentistry. Designed as part of the “Business Brush-up” initiative by Treloar & Heisel, it provides education and ideas for soon-to-be dental grads, and recently graduated dentists or specialists, as well as anyone who feels like they could use a business brush-up.

In this edition of “Let’s Talk,” Christian Pearson, national director of dental partnerships at Treloar & Heisel, speaks with Stephen Trutter, director of consulting and partner at Ideal Practices, a national consulting firm focused on the needs of private practice dentistry. Here they discuss what it takes to go into private practice.

Christian: You have helped hundreds of dentists all over the country set up their own practices. What are some of the characteristics of a person who would do well in their own practice?

Stephen: The biggest trait is commitment. You need to be committed to ownership and everything that comes with it. I always tell people, my job is to guide startups — I don’t convince startups. In other words, don’t let anybody convince you that you need to be in private practice. Know if for yourself.

Also, be careful about whom you let advise you. My partner Jayme and I always refer to this as the “peanut gallery,” a concept with which most people can relate. It’s all the people on the ‘outside’ who say: “You should do it this way” or “You should do it that way.” Don’t take advice from people who have opened one or two practices. Take advice from people who have done it hundreds of times. Find mentors or industry leaders who have put in their hours opening lots of offices and who have seen the ups and downs of this business.

With so much information readily available, it’s easy to get overloaded with data on what to do. Everyone has a different opinion. You need to be picky about whom you choose to listen to, and you’ll need to shield yourself from information overload.

Christian: How can new dentists be better advocates for their own success?

Stephen: I’ve met many dentists at conferences who expressed regret over not doing their due diligence before getting into complicated contracts, such as potentially damaging leases or employment agreements. They didn’t do their research or they didn’t get a second opinion, or they didn’t ask some tough questions, though they later wished they had. Often, they regret listening to the wrong people. Successful dentists are curious, eager to learn and unafraid to ask questions.

Successful dentists know that it’s OK to ask for help. Dentists are some of the most respected, intelligent, hardworking and motivated people who take pride in their accomplishments. A lot of times they may think to themselves, “I can do this — I don’t need help,” or “If I do it by myself, I can save some money.” People hire people to help and mentor all the time. Why would you not hire someone to help you start your practice?  I’m a consultant, and I have no qualms with saying that I hire consultants to help me improve my business because I want to do better for my clients and myself.

Unfortunately, there can be a lot of vendors with their own agenda. And vendors aren’t bad — they’re just doing their jobs. But in some cases, a vendor may have to follow their corporate agenda, and that agenda may be to sell something to you versus being an advocate for you and your needs. A successful dentist looks for impartial advice.

Christian: I appreciate what you are saying here: Be committed but also be cautious, find the right advice and maybe, most importantly, find the right people to give you the guidance you need.

Visit the article at: (Mouthing Off, the Blog of the American Student Dental Association)

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