Business side of dentistry: when to start?

Editor’s Note: This is the 11th article in a series exploring the business aspects of the dental profession, from starting a practice and marketing to hiring and finance.

dr. Deshpande

Doing a startup may seem exciting, but since I’m currently going through it myself, I can say it’s a scary undertaking. Probably scarier than anything else I’ve ever done.

A million things are going through my mind right now as I write this in February 2021:

1. I have yet to adjust my business plan with demographic and competitive analysis for locations

2. Write monthly financial projections for years 1-3 and send them to three of my mentors for their input and advice.

3. Cold call offices in the area to analyze competition; how good are they at answering their phones? How easy was it to make an appointment? Were my financial options explained to me with ease (impersonating a potential patient)?

4. Completing my pre-qualification process with a lender. At the time of writing, there are only 2 banks in Washington State that offer startup loan.

5. Take a course on Facebook Marketing and a course on Internal Membership Plans because I want compensation for a service practice focused on providing the very best hospitality to our patients. This is difficult to do in my location, an urban suburb of Seattle, where insurance reliance is typically quite high.

Do you see what I mean now? These are the things that are playing in my head, or someone planning a startup. Are you ready for this life? All this with the uncertainty of patients actually calling your office and making appointments. But all said and done, that doesn’t mean we can’t go ahead with our plans. This is when I think all of you should consider before starting a startup.

1. If you’ve been looking at all the practice placement websites for at least a year and haven’t found a practice that comes close to your vision.

2. If you have approached all dentists at your chosen location who are older than 55 and asked them about a possible transition.

3. When all the exercises you’ve seen so far seem small. For example, my vision was to have a 7-on-practice as I see myself one day having a staff member and at least 3 hygienists. Most practices in my market have a maximum of 5 surgeries. It is very difficult to expand a 5 surgery practice unless there is a room next door or you change location.

That is why it is so important to know your future vision and to reverse engineer from there! If after a year of searching your vision of practice ownership remains the same, consider starting a startup.

Questions about doing a startup? Feel free to get in touch and follow my personal journey @dr.deshpande

dr. Sampada Deshpande is a general dentist based in San Francisco. Sampada, a foreign-trained dentist from India, received her DDS from the University of Washington in 2018 and is a UW-LEND Fellow for 2020-2021. In addition to clinical dentistry, she enjoys teaching at the New Dentist Business Club and improving access to healthcare technology through her involvement in Samsotech† You can reach her directly at: @dr.deshpande on Instagram or visit her website For more information.

Editor’s Note: We know that finding the right exercise can be overwhelming and time-consuming. That’s why the ADA has created ADA Practice Transitions (ADAPT), a service that matches you with practices that fit your practice approach and lifestyle. We provide tailored tools to ensure you are confident in your decisions and an ADA advisor supports you every step of the way. More information on

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