Business success in dentistry is not a fluke

Clinical dentistry is stressful enough without adding the unnecessary headaches associated with a business that’s not operating well. While running a business is not easy, it is often predictable.

Evan Gilfoyle

Clinical dentistry is stressful enough without adding the unnecessary headaches associated with a business that’s not operating well. While running a business is not easy, it is often predictable. Every day, I speak with dentists about their practices. Through these consultations, I’ve found there are three key steps taken by successful dentists. Those who are struggling have often not taken these steps. What are they?

Acquiring business skills

The most successful dental practices are guided by people who have invested time and energy into learning business skills in addition to clinical skills. There are many resources available that can help dentists learn the fundamentals of business. Many are free and others require an investment. Open whatever podcast app you have on your smartphone, search for “dental business,” and you’ll find hundreds of experts sharing ideas and strategies. If you’re a visual learner and prefer to read, start with a general search for dental business books, but branch out of the dental arena. John Maxwell, Peter Drucker, Simon Sinek, Stephen Covey, and many others share lessons that you can apply to your business every day.

If you prefer a more structured learning environment, an MBA is always a solid investment. But there are also independent, deep learning, and immersive programs that focus specifically on teaching dentists. You will learn how to plan, build, lead, and optimize your dental practice. Completing this type of in-depth curriculum with other dentists can be a powerful and transformational experience.

Building an advisory board

You may have already figured out that running a business can be a very isolating experience. You’re required to make decisions with incomplete information and everything is ultimately your responsibility. The most successful dental practices are run by individuals who have surrounded themselves with advisors and experts they can turn to when they need professional support.

Dental CPAs, health-care attorneys, colleagues, study clubs, business associations, networking groups, business coaches, personal coaches, and dental consultants all play a part in the growth of a practice. You don’t know what you don’t know. Surrounding yourself with professionals who can guide you when you’re uncertain can save you money and heartache.

Focusing on what you are good at and outsourcing the rest

Finally, successful practices focus on their core competencies and outsource responsibilities that can be done cheaper, better, or faster. Do any of your team members really have expert training in human resources, marketing, HIPAA compliance, or insurance negotiation? If not, why do you have them doing these things? It might seem like an unnecessary expense to outsource these tasks, but in the long run it will cost you more money, take longer, and won’t be done as effectively if you delegate something to an unqualified team member. Imagine how well your practice could run if the only thing your team had to focus on was providing excellent patient experiences. How much better would they be at making sure patients come back? How many more patients could you reactivate?

With a little education, a strong support network, and a willingness to outsource certain tasks, you can transform your day-to-day grind into a productive business with fewer headaches. This business can grow and thrive and provide you with the time and income to live the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Evan Gilfoyle is a former business consulting specialist and current regional sales manager for Henry Schein Dental who works in the Maryland/DC/Northern Virginia area. He partners with practice owners, analyzes their current performance, identifies goals for the future, and helps them create implementation plans to achieve those goals. Contact him at

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