Recently a young dentist mentioned his desire to start a practice from scratch, after suffering through two failed associateships. He was only three years removed from school and reported a debt burden of over $225,000. This dentist understood that opening a cold start practice would sink him further in debt simply to build out an office capable of treating that first coveted patient. His concern was also about the demographics of his new practice location, and if they would be amenable to the growth of yet another dental office.
I provided the following advice to this new dentist:
Here are some companies and government agencies that provide demographic research for you: FreeDemographics , U.S. Census Bureau, ZIPskinny and the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. While demographics are important, we must keep in mind that nearly all dental practices succeed to some degree or another. You can do it. I think that given your debt load, it would be wise to implement cost controlling strategies. Hire only a skeleton crew and spend as you grow. Starting from scratch creates the greatest trepidation, but offers the greatest reward far and away.
There is obvious financial risk with starting your own dental practice. There are also staff concerns and general small business issues that you will always be responsible for controlling. This is a big responsibility and one that should be taken on only after appropriate research and analysis of your situation. However, the worst day of being your own boss will likely be better than the best day you ever had working for someone else. Part II of this series will focus on acquiring a loan or lease for your new practice.