After graduation from dental school, most of my classmates were looking for a job, but I was looking for a dental practice to buy. I found a potential practice and worked in it for about a month, but in the end, I decided not to buy because most of the team members were quitting, and the practice didn’t have an effective administrative system in place.
I continued to work part-time at several practices while I looked for one to purchase. Finally, after several months, I found a small practice in Irving, Texas, that was for sale. A classmate of mine and I took a continuing education course together to improve our clinical skills. We then purchased a practice and started a second practice three months later in another nearby city. During this time, my partner and I worked part-time in our practices and part-time at another dentists’ practices. For the first two years, we struggled to grow our two practices, but nothing seemed to work. Neither of us had any experience in building and managing a dental practice, however. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. There were times that my partner wanted to sell both practices to start over in a different location, and there were times that he wanted to sell them and move back to Oklahoma with his family. I didn’t want to give up, however, and I persuaded my partner to continue. Towards the end of our second year, we finally figured out a marketing strategy for our first practice. We hired a consultant to assist us with our second practice, and it also began to grow. As both practices started to thrive, we made enough money to pay off our business loan.
Additionally, my wife and I also paid off my student loan and our home mortgage. We became debt-free at the age of 32! During this time, we bought another dental practice but wound up selling it when we realized that we were spreading ourselves too thin. We were also trying to balance out family responsibilities too, especially with both of us having new-borns at home. But what I had learned from our experiences with our dental businesses was that no setback is permanent. It’s only temporary. We began to learn to re-frame our mistakes as lessons. We learned what not to do in addition to what to do. And because we persevered, we realized our obstacles were creative challenges in disguise. And this became a foundational philosophy for me for the rest of my life.
In summary, if you are a dentist and you are struggling, you are not alone. Many other dentists have also been there and done that. You, too, can improve your situation and thrive by figuring out what to do, as well as what not to do in your business. You can achieve the same level of success as other successful dentists if you work with a great coach or a consultant to help you implement the right systems and strategies for your practice. This will shorten or eliminate your trial and error time and will help you get on the success ladder more quickly. Whatever you do, do not give up! Until next time, take care…and remember: think big, take action, and make a difference in your life, your family’s life, and your community.