Can a Dentist be a shrewd Entrepreneur?

By Melinda Wilhelm, VP of Operations

When you hear the words dentist and entrepreneur it is usually not in the same sentence but in today’s world it should be.   To manage a successful dental practice takes training in business planning and execution.  Dentists want to do dentistry and that can be accomplished once it is realized that being a knowledgeable business person will allow you to practice the way you have always wanted to.

Great clinical skills are necessary to be able to deliver excellent chairside dentistry to your patients but what about the administrative and business issues that are just as important to the dental practice.  How much should the dentist know about running a dental practice like a business?

Many dentists try to delegate the management of their practices to someone with “experience”  without really understanding what the experience should look like and what needs to be in place to establish accountability within the job duties of a manager.

As an entrepreneur, the dentist would be wise to look at the business side of the practice as defined operational systems that require understanding and know how.   Consider the following as a dentist entrepreneur:

  1.    Are you willing to take calculated risks to achieve success?  Your attitude toward risks shapes your drivers to success.  In twenty years you don’t want to say “If I only had done___, I would be ____.”
  2.    Are you willing to continually build and bring in new services and technology?   Even if you want your solo practice to be the best it can be takes innovation and creativity.   Keep connected with your team, they will have great ideas if allowed to express them openly at team meetings.
  3.   Are you willing to accept that you can make mistakes and if you do embrace and learn from them?  Change the systems that brought about the errors so that you can identify and correct them before they are repeated mistakes.
  4.     Are you willing to learn to work smart?  Identify your most important tasks that if completed would help you achieve your goals.  Get training for your team because without them working with you toward your goals it will be an uphill climb.  
  5.    Are you willing to work with your business staff every day going over management issues?   Communication is imperative in creating sound business acumen.  When the staff knows you are vested in the daily success of the practice they will follow your lead.
  6.      Are you willing to live a balanced life, take care of your health, your family and nurture your spirit?  Being busy doesn’t make you happy, it can mean chaos and stress.

To align your clinical skills with an entrepreneurial spirit will give you great confidence to succeed.


eAssist Helpful News and Billing Tips; Edition #103


  • Great article Melinda. You are right that if Drs respond in an open way to all suggestions, they will get great ideas from their staff.

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