**Challenges of Practice Ownership – PART 1**

If you are thinking of becoming a practice owner – this is what you need to know and grasp from the get go!

Many people ask my what the difference is between life as an associate and a practice owner. In this series of articles, I’ll delve into the main things you need to be prepared for.

1. The UPs and Downs in your appointment book are much much worse, psychologically, for a new owner
So you had a bad week as an associate? You earnt a little less, perhaps you are a little stressed you haven’t put anything into savings for a while because of your car and house repayments?

As a practice owner, not only do you have your personal spending taking a hit, you are responsible for the wages of all staff, rent, business loan repayments, etc etc. For a new practice owner, who’s savings are fast dwindling, this can be an extremely stressful time. It can also have negative impacts on your clinical work – patients can detect desperation in trying to sell a treatment plan. Non-dental spouses have to deal with your heightened stress, etc etc.

As you get more experienced in ownership, the cyclical nature of the appointment book becomes much easier to handle. Also, as your practice matures and recalls begin, there are less ups and downs.

2. Responsibility for getting patients in the door
Related to point (1) above, no longer do you just turn upto work and have patients booked in. You are now responsible for marketing to get patients in the door. This is daunting as you won’t necessarily know what works best and having already outlaid lots of money for the business, you now have to decide how best to spend your limited remaining budget to get the best bang for your buck!

Perhaps the best tip I can give here (other than plugging my own course), is to track every single new patient and how they hear about your practice. This can be easily done with most dental software and will allow you to make excellent decisions in the future on where best to direct (or more correctly, not direct) your marketing dollars.

3. Staffing issues are your issue now
Remember when, as an associate, if the auxiliary staff were bitching, you could sit back and grab some popcorn and watch the drama? Hell, you could even participate in the office gossip and bitching, guilt-free.

Guess what, as an owner, instead of popcorn, you will want headache tablets. Staffing issues are by far the biggest headache that Ownership will bring. There is usually a honeymoon period where everything is going well and you are wondering why all these business owners go on about staffing issues.

Then bang!

It hits.

Getting advice and training in HR early on, is a must imho.

In part two of this series, I’ll cover more of what you need to be aware of with respect to life as a practice owner…

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