What I wish I had known in my first 5 years as a cosmetic dentist

November 19, 2021

Over the past 20 years, I’ve started a practice from scratch, acquired a practice, bought and merged another practice, sold a practice, was on 6 insurance plans, have had up to 2 locations and 12 team members and associates work for me, and much more. Today, I’m living my vision. My team and I have a fee-for-service destination practice that focuses exclusively on cosmetic dentistry. 

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot of lessons about following your own path to success as a dentist. I’ve learned many of these lessons the hard way: trial and error. As I look back at the journey I took to get where I am today, I realize that there are some things I wish I had known when I started. 

So, what are they? I’m glad you asked! 

Invest in Yourself

Your physical and mental health are paramount to your success in your career. Make sure you give yourself the gift of time to become your best self. Additionally, learn about the business of dentistry as early as possible. After all of the clinical training, it can be a shock to realize that you also need to know how to run your own business. I wish I learned more about running a business, numbers, and profitability before starting my own business. I struggled early on with decision-making, and if I had had a stronger understanding of business, I ultimately could have saved myself a lot of stress and money. 

Look for mentors or find a business coach who can help you achieve your goals. But it’s not all business, of course. In addition to learning about the business of running a dental practice, take as many clinical courses as you can to help build your confidence in doing procedures and to improve and widen your skill set. Learn about sedation dentistry, Invisalign®, dental implants, and cosmetic dentistry. In short, learn about procedures that patients really want. 

Prioritize your health and wellbeing, focus on being a perpetual learner, and stay true to who you are. You and your practice are worth the investment. 

Build your brand authentically 

Build your brand and tell your story. With social media, you have the ability to to showcase your personality and your talents to a wide audience. Build your personal brand and put the effort into growing it on social media. This is your chance to show the world who you really are, carve out your own niche in the world, and invest in the truest version of you and your vision. Put the time in here, be patient, and be consistent in posting content and sharing your story. Authenticity breeds success. Ultimately, this is one of the best ways to get where you want to be.

Clarify your vision 

I wish I had stayed truer to the path I wanted to be on instead of getting distracted by the path I thought I needed to be on. That’s why I took so many turns on my journey. I am guilty of having chased all the shiny objects and getting distracted from my true vision. For instance, there were definitely some big purchases I regret, like a CEREC® machine and some costly marketing strategies. 

Before committing to some of these big purchases, I wish I taken a step back and took the time to evaluate whether these things would actually get me closer to my vision and my ideal practice. Every piece of technology and marketing idea sounds like it’s going to transform your practice, but you should always step back and question whether it’s really necessary. Not everything is right for everyone.

The truth is this: not everyone has it figured out. Everyone, even the biggest dentists, have struggles and insecurities. We’re all human. Having a clear understanding of your vision will help you stay on track to get where you want to go, be who you want to be, and practice the way you want to practice. 

Invest in your team

I wish I had taken more time hiring and building my team. Having the right people and building the right team has taken years. Now I have a team of rockstars, but it took me a lot of time to recruit the right people. Frankly, I wouldn’t be able to have achieved the success I have today without them.

Take time and care when building your team. You’ll likely encounter hiccups, but once we got the right people, we grew exponentially. With the right people, your growth can be exponential too. The best way to grow your business is to find the right people to surround yourself with who share in your vision. Your team is the foundation of your business success. 

Communication is key

Communication is vital in every aspect of our lives. How we speak to others, how we interpret what others are saying to us, and how we speak to ourselves ultimately shapes our reality. 

To be a great leader you have to be able to communicate clearly with your team. You team must clearly understand you, and you must effectively listen to your team. To take care of your patients and to do more cases, you have to be a great listener in order to understand them and what they want and to be able to clearly and effectively communicate your recommendations and expectations. Your success hinges on your ability to communicate with everyone around you. 

Learn to be a great communicator. Have hard conversations. Learn how other people communicate, how not to take things personally, and how to set clear expectations and boundaries. 

I hope you are able to reach your goals in half the time that you think it’ll take!

Thank you!

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