Starting a startup

Heads up. Feeling just a little vulnerable putting this out here. Here it goes.

I’m starting a dental practice! I’m scared, but I’m going to do it anyway.

I never thought I’d start a de novo practice. If you’d have asked me 2-3 years ago, I would’ve said straight away, that startups are the hardest thing to do. To get off the ground alone, dentists spend more than half a million dollars in building and equipping. All this while we have no patients, no guarantee that we will be successful, that employees will want to work with us. There’s no way of predicting that our dream will become a reality someday, that we will be able to pay our bills and provide thoughtful care to our community.

Photo by Hristina Šatalova on Unsplash

But, guess what? I’m doing to do it anyway.

The year that was

Like many new dentists, I spent most of last year combing feverishly through practice acquisitions. I reached out to every broker in my area, familiarized them with my vision of a 7-op practice, and asked if they knew of a similar practice coming up on the market. I also made a comprehensive list of 55+ dentists in my area, plotted their offices on a map, drove by their locations to see if I could see myself practicing in the neighborhood and sent letters to a chosen few. In my letters, I was asking for a mentor, and sharing my hope for an associateship that would lead to ownership.

Most responded! Even those who had no interest to sell and just wanted to say hi, responded. I got a few calls from dentists who wanted to meet in person. There were a further few that gave me their practice data and had me involve an accountant in reviewing numbers.

Photo by whereslugo on Unsplash

The rush

Out of all of these, there was one practice that made my heart race, and got my hopes up. The dentist was interested in selling, the numbers looked reasonable and the location was perfect. I was already dreaming of the time my husband and I would be able to move to this location and buy a home close to the practice. As fate would have it, the seller decided not to sell. They weren’t quite ready for retirement yet and asked me if I was willing to wait a couple years. My husband asked me to consider waiting too, ‘we can buy a practice in two years too, right? What’s the rush?’

I asked myself the same question. What is the rush?

Photo by Hannah Ray on Unsplash

Well. The rush is that I don’t want to wait another two years to be living my dreams. It upsets me to even think about waiting another 2 years to do the thing I really want to do.

Do you know that feeling I am referring to? I bet you’ve had at least one such dream in your life that you just couldn’t let go off. This is what having my dream practice is all about.

When you know exactly what you want to do with your life, I think there’s no point in waiting around before doing it.

The startup life

This is why after a whole year of looking through acquisitions, on and off market, and now with my sweet husband convinced of my plans, I am going ahead with a startup. Me, a startup!

Haven’t heard of a dental startup before? Here’s a list of things I’m doing currently, if you can believe a single person with a full-time job and a-day- a-week school is capable of doing all at once:

  1. Putting together a business plan
  2. Coming up with financial projections for years 1-5
  3. Speaking to bankers, designers, architects, general contractors and technicians, while reviewing their references and background
  4. Touring spaces with my tenant representative
  5. Pulling demographic reports of different neighborhoods in the Greater Seattle Area
  6. Talking to fellow dentists and specialists about their startup experiences
  7. Inviting some of the above people to NDBC as speakers so they can educate everyone else!
  8. Listening to podcasts, reading books and trying to stay as positive as possible
  9. Trying not to get overwhelmed by the insanity of it all

It’s only been three weeks since I’ve officially started, but I have already had 2 days of sheer panic. ‘There’s just way too much stuff to learn, too much stuff I don’t know’ I told my mom. ‘Well, you know what, you may take years to learn all of this. But, you will still have surprises in the process. It doesn’t mean you delay things, it just means you gotta go for it.’ And she is absolutely right.

Photo by Kae Ng on Unsplash

Do you have a crazy dream like this? I’d love to hear about it. Meanwhile, please do cheer for me!  

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