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Finding the Right Team for Your Practice Start-up

By: Gavin Shea

Joining a corporate dental practice after graduation can be a quick way to jump-start your career.

But is working as a corporate dental employee a required step before starting-up your own practice? Absolutely not. Some of you entered the dental field because you are entrepreneurs at heart, intent on creating and running your own business as CEO. This may be achievable if you surround yourself with the right team of professionals who have the necessary know-how for starting a dental practice.

Start-up does not equal do-it-yourself.

There are numerous consultants and specialists in the field of dentistry who are prepared to help you get launched successfully into practice ownership. They can make starting up your own practice seem less daunting, walking you through every step in the process until you are fully ready to take charge. The key is to find experienced advisors you can trust to look out for your best interests, work on your behalf, and help you with specific aspects of your start-up project until your goals are met. Candidates may ask numerous questions about your objectives for your practice, taking the necessary time to genuinely understand your goals.

If you're planning a start-up, you may want to include, among others, these specialists on your core team of advisors:


An accountant or CPA can monitor your income and expenditures to make sure your project stays on budget and your practice is financially sound. The accountant should be able to develop tax projections, plans and estimates, and prepare and file tax documents for your practice. They should also be able to help establish collections and other financial procedures for the practice, and advise on tax and accounting implications of business and investment decisions. If you don't want to manage your practice accounting yourself, consider consulting an accountant who has dental practice experience.


Ideally, your attorney will be a specialist in the field of dentistry, fully understanding the impact of legislation on your business. Your attorney can help set up your business entity and assure contracts and documents comply with legal requirements. He or she may negotiate and draft contracts, leases and employment documents, provide tax advice and planning, as well as estate planning and will preparation. An attorney may also be able to help you set up employee handbooks and standard operating procedures that may help mitigate potential HR liabilities for you as an employer.


Your lender can help your start-up become a reality as they may be able to provide the funds for getting your practice underway. Understanding the distinction between different types of lenders is important. Collateral-based lenders typically use the value of your personal assets - such as your home, money market accounts and vehicles - as collateral when making credit decisions. Cash-flow lenders, on the other hand, typically make credit decisions based on projected revenue and cash flow, using the practice itself as collateral, not personal assets. Cash-flow lenders tend to be specialty lenders focused on a particular business or industry. Consider using a lender who specializes in financing dental practices, as you may benefit from their experiences with previous practice openings. Look for a lender who asks questions and listens to understand what is important to you as a new business owner.

Equipment supplier.

A start-up practice requires plenty of equipment - from patient chairs to diode lasers. Your equipment supplier can help assure you have the appropriate selection and integration of equipment and technology for your particular practice. The supplier can work with you to create a technology plan, measuring your selected location to ensure it is compatible with your equipment needs and suggesting possible office design layouts. And the supplier may work with an architect to develop structural drawings and mechanicals. The supplier can help you with equipment selection and placement and may provide a range of cost options for outfitting your location.

General contractor.

A general contractor can bring your physical space into being. Your contractor can build your facility from the ground up according to your vision and plans, optimize practice functionality and work closely with you to meet your needs as well as those of your staff and patients. The contractor may also be able to provide options for making your practice more environmentally friendly. Having a general contractor with experience building dental practices may save you both time and money in the development process.

Real estate professional.

Your commercial realtor can assist with site selection, as well as negotiations with a potential landlord negotiation. Choosing a real estate advisor with a special focus on healthcare can provide an additional benefit, as he or she can identify potential locations using demographic reports and other research tools to help ensure a successful, thriving practice in the proper healthcare setting.

If you're motivated to build a practice on your own, there's no need to let the challenges ahead stand in your way. With an experienced, competent team of advisors, you can make your way to starting up your own dental practice and your future career.

About the Author

Gavin Shea is the National Director, Healthcare for Wells Fargo Practice Finance. With more than 17 years of banking experience with an emphasis in practice lending, he leads sales and marketing strategy development and implementation throughout the national footprint. His industry background offers practitioners a unique perspective as they approach some of the most important decisions in their professional lives. With more than 30 years of practice lending experience, Wells Fargo Practice Finance specializes in helping healthcare professionals acquire, start and expand their practices with various financing options and a signature Practice Success Program. Contact: gavin.m.shea@wellsfargo.com or 844-626-4317

View all articles by Gavin Shea

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All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

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