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    11 qualities of the TRUE dentist entrepreneur

    Breaking down the key traits shared by visionaries in the dental field.

    Most dentists are not inherently entrepreneurial. They primarily go into dental practice due to its historical stability and minimal downside risks. Dental practice classically has been a pathway to sizable personal income, immune from radical fluctuation in the economy and safe from being displaced by disruptive technologies. That is, until the last few years.

    Seismic shifts in the dental landscape are now occurring. The asset value of solo dental practices is nose-diving due to a flattening of its revenues, increasing costs of doing business, competition for new patients who can pay for dentistry and the increasing restrictions of dental benefits. To make matters worse, student debt—along with a major shift in attitude among younger dentists—is reducing the number of viable buyers for dental practices, further depressing the negotiable value.

    As individual practices are struggling more financially, managed group practices are emerging as a dominant force in the market due to their ability to reduce the cost of delivery, handle backroom functions more effectively and less expensively, manage operations and staff, and leverage negotiations with vendors, suppliers and labs. By reducing the cost of delivery and improving access, managed group practices have gained appeal in the market and among other industry stakeholders such as insurers, benefit managers and suppliers.

    More from the author: Why solo practice is a poor fit for the future

    While solo practices are sinking at 7 percent per year as reported by the ADA, managed group practices are growing at 20 percent. This growth is fueled by the ingress of large capital investors who see dental practices as highly fragmented businesses that can be easily consolidated to increase margins, profits and EBIDTA.

    Among all this change, there is a minority of dentists who see such seismic shifts not as a threat but as an opportunity. These are the dentist entrepreneurs. They can envision building their own managed group practices, their own expression in the market, their own brand. They are consumed by what is possible and are committed to converting that possibility into action.

    Dentist entrepreneurs are driven not by security but by a vision. They have a grand purpose of building a great business, not simply leading a stable practice that allows them to make a good living. Dentist entrepreneurs are driven by their passion for creating a significant dental enterprise that reflects their values, vision and purpose.  They reimagine how dentistry can be delivered.

    For the last five years, I’ve worked exclusively with dentist entrepreneurs in our Dental Entrepreneur Programs and the Mastery SUMMITs. I’ve gotten to know these individuals intimately. By working with such inspiring individuals from all parts of the U.S., South America, Canada, the Middle East, Asia, Israel and Europe, I have come to deeply appreciate what distinguishes a dental entrepreneur from the average dentist.  

    What are those qualities and characteristics that give dentist entrepreneurs the courage to take enormous risks? What allows them to play “all-in”? What inspires them to build dental companies with resource centers, hierarchical management structures with experienced non-dental executives, with continually expanding numbers of dentists and locations? What do they have that others lack?

    Up next: Qualities of the dental entrepreneur ...

    Dr. Marc Cooper
    Dr. Cooper's professional career includes private periodontist, academician, researcher, teacher, practice management consultant, ...

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