The difference between a dental business and a dental practice may seem like semantics, but it’s not.

It’s a question being posed to more and more dentists.

The concept of a dental practice we once knew is rapidly evolving. It’s now more important than ever to embrace and understand the business side of practice ownership.

It’s only by seeing your practice as a business that you’ll be able to grow and scale to a level that allows you to work because you want to – not because you have to.

So, how do you know when you’re on the road to owning a business that gives you time, money, and meaning?

You’ll notice these four signs.


1.  You Accept Change

They say two things are certain in life; death and taxes.

But I’d argue there’s a secret third thing… change.

Ask any lifelong athlete, entrepreneur, politician, businessperson, billionaire, world-record holder and they’ll all tell you that managing change is a crucial part of their success.

Change in life and business is inevitable, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Where we run into problems is when we see change as an obstacle or challenge.

Whilst change can be unexpected or inconvenient, it always comes with opportunities and potential.

You can’t stop the world, the economy, your patients, your team, your community etc. from changing.


You’d be a madman to try.

Accept and embrace change, and then look for the opportunities you can capitalise on.


2.  You Solve Problems

You trained to be a dentist, diagnose issues, and treat them.

By definition, that solves problems.

But as a business owner, you also have to think in terms of how you solve problems for your customers.

What’s really bothering them? They’re not coming to you saying “I need root canal, if you can do that then you’re solving my problems.”

I can almost guarantee that’s not how they feel about their oral health.

To them, the problem is their health. Their smile. Their pain.

When you can think in terms of those problems and solutions, you’re thinking like a business owner.

Your ability to solve problems is a direct reflection of the amount of value you provide.

And no business can run without providing value.


3.  You Know Marketing is Mandatory

One of the core functions of any business is being able to attract and retain customers – or in our case, patients. This is where marketing will make or break your practice.

It’s not enough to do the clinical work and go home. Or stick a sign that says “dentist” in your window and call it a day.

Dentistry is a crowded marketplace and you have to be proactive about attracting patients.

And not just a one-off letter or reminder SMS. You need to approach marketing the same way other businesses and organisations do.

You need to think in terms of touchpoints, multiple channels and mediums, leads vs. retention – it’s a beast unto itself.

More than just a one-off recall letter or reminder SMS, dental business marketing now involves multiple forms of communication.

You know you’re in a dental business when you start taking the ‘marketing thing’ seriously.


4.  You’re Hungry For Growth – yours and your dental business’

Another sure sign you’re in a dental business is your innate desire to learn as much as you possibly can.

Not just about business, your learning could be in any area of life. It really doesn’t matter, just so long as it’s learning that leads to growth.

I recall reading somewhere that owning a business is the best personal development course around.

I’m inclined to agree.

It’s one of the toughest gigs going – hard work, long hours, and uphill battles on tough days – but the learning and growth that’s gained makes it totally worthwhile.