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Finding Your Dream Team

By: Gavin Shea

Many of you entered the dental field because you are entrepreneurs at heart, intent on creating and running your own business as CEO. Turning your dream practice into a reality likely means starting your own practice from the ground up. This will enable you to have input into every aspect of your working environment. Surrounding yourself with a dream team of professionals who have the necessary know-how for starting a dental practice might be you first step to achieving your dream 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 make a successful transition into practice ownership. They may make starting up your own practice seem less daunting, walking you through every step of 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. They may also be fully capable of operating as a productive member of a larger start-up team.

Consider including these specialists on your practice start-up advisory dream team:

Accountant or CPA

Practice accounting is an area where professional help is important, and you may want to enlist someone with dental practice experience. Your accountant should be able to provide the following services:

  • Monitor your income and expenditures to make sure your project stays on budget and your practice is financially sound.
  • Develop tax projections, plans and estimates, and prepare and file tax documents for your practice.
  • Help establish collections and other financial procedures for the practice.
  • Advise on tax and accounting implications of business and investment decisions.


Ideally, your attorney will be a specialist in the field of dentistry, fully understanding the impact of legislation on your business. Your attorney should be able to :

  • Help set up your business entity and assure contracts and documents comply with legal requirements.
  • Negotiate and draft contracts, leases and employment documents.
  • Provide tax advice and planning, as well as estate planning and will preparation.
  • Help in setting up employee handbooks and standard operating procedures that may help mitigate potential HR liabilities for you as an employer.


Your lender may be able to help make your start-up practice vision become a reality, as they may be able to provide the funds for getting your practice underway. It's wise to use 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 detailed questions to help flush out potential pitfalls for you to avoid as a new business owner. Also, understand the distinction between different types of lenders:

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:

  • Typically make credit decisions based on projected revenue and cash flow, using the practice itself as collateral, not personal assets.
  • Tend to be specialty lenders focused on a particular business or industry.

Equipment supplier

A start-up practice requires plenty of equipment -- from patient chairs to diode lasers. Your supplier can likely provide the following services:

  • Help assure you have the appropriate selection and integration of equipment and technology for your particular practice.
  • Work with you to create a technology plan:
    • Measure your selected location to ensure it is compatible with your equipment needs
    • Suggest possible office design layouts
    • Work with an architect to develop structural drawings and mechanicals
    • Help with equipment selection and placement and may provide a range of cost options for outfitting your location

General contractor

A general contractor may help you turn your current physical space into your ideal practice. Having a general contractor with experience building dental practices may help save you both time and money in the development process. Your contractor should be able to:

  • Build your facility from the ground up according to your vision and plans.
  • Optimize practice functionality.
  • Work closely with you to meet your needs as well as those of your staff and patients.
  • Provide options for making your practice more environmentally friendly.

Real estate professional

If you can find a real estate agent who specializes in healthcare locations, you may enjoy a more focused property search and save valuable time in the long run. Your real estate agent should be able to:

  • Use demographic reports and other research tools to help ensure a successful site selection.
  • Conduct landlord negotiation in a lease transaction.

An experienced, competent team of advisors may help you 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 20 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.