There I was in a Starbucks, seven years ago, sitting across from Dr. Erin Thomas trying to look like I knew what I was talking about. The subject? Starting a practice together. We exchanged tidbits about our personal lives. We shared war stories about unpleasant associateships. We fumbled around with ideas of what our imaginary practice would look like. That conversation became the foundation of our business plan.
I projected confidence outwardly in proportion to the confidence I lacked internally. Will we be able to bring in enough patients to pay our bills? Of course we will, I assured both of us.
Erin and I have been practice owners for six years now. If I could talk to that younger version of myself sitting in Starbucks, I would say one thing: "You're about to make a ton of mistakes and that's great." Too much safety is boring and bad for business. If we'd only made decisions when we were certain of success, then we'd never have opened our doors.
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Audacity. Bravado. Chutzpah. Whatever you want to call it, you need at least a few drops of it to start a business. You take your flag and stake it into the ground and shout, "Do you see this? This is mine!" The act of creation is bold.
Start-ups don't inherit the patient base, team, or systems that come with purchasing an existing business, but look at that as an opportunity rather than a weakness. You can design something that has never existed before. You have a blank canvas in front of you. The act of creation is beautiful.
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If you're thinking about starting a practice from scratch, I salute you. Don't let anyone tell you that start-ups are too expensive, too risky, or too whatever. Start-ups are magnificent. Your start-up is going to be magnificent, because it's yours. So grab a stack of DEs, go to a coffee shop, and get that business plan together. Create!
Chris Salierno, DDS