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The Definitive Guide to Setting Up Your Own Dental Practice

The Definitive Guide to Setting Up Your Own Dental Practice

Are you a dentist or specialist thinking about setting up your own dental practice? Do you want to be in charge of your own lifestyle and income and reach your wealth-building goals? Taking the leap from employment to building and running your own business can be daunting, that’s why many medical professionals don’t take that step at all. Although challenging, this shouldn’t stop you from taking the plunge altogether; here is everything you need to know to plan and prepare for setting up your own dental practice. 

Setting up your dental practice (the 5-step guide)

1. Make sure it’s the right time for you

Setting up your own dental practice is a major commitment; you need to be motivated to overcome challenges and grow; you need to be prepared to develop new skills beyond medicine, and you need to be able to adapt with changes that will affect your operating environment. What’s your exit strategy further down the line? Will building a new practice enable you to exit how you want to? 

To make sure it’s the right time for you, ask yourself:

  1. What are your motivations? – e.g. higher income, wealth-building, better lifestyle?

  2. Are you prepared to develop new skills? – e.g. human resources management, business planning, cash flow and budgeting etc.

  3. Are you able to adapt to change? – e.g changing legislation, tax regulations, and technology etc. 

  4. What is your exit strategy? –  e.g.will you want to change your career, retire early, sell your practice or shut it down? 

2. Select the location carefully

Location can make or break a practice, so make sure you consider all of the factors that can influence success before making your final decision. Conduct in-depth research into the following areas:

  1. Local competitors

  2. Sufficient local demand/proximity to patients

  3. Accessibility (local transport/parking)

  4. Complementary facilities (pathology services/allied health/proximity to a public hospital)

  5. Potential for future growth (is the local population and potential demand likely to rise within the next 5 years? Can your site accommodate growth?)

  6. Property features (the property should be approved for operation as a medical practice and needs to accommodate staff, patients, and any future extension plans).

3. Outline your business plan

Not only will a business plan be necessary for applying for finance, but it also ensures that you outline your goals and projections and that you measure your success along the way to ensure that you reach those goals. A solid business plan is key to success. 

When creating your business plan, include:

  1. The cost to set up your business – this depends on the location, whether you want to lease or buy, whether you’re taking over an existing practice or starting a new one from scratch, and salary rates etc.

  2. How you will finance it – savings or a loan etc.

  3. How you will adapt to changes in business tax law – your accountant can help you factor in tax issues to see the impact on your bottom line.

  4. Your cash flow projections and loan structure – you may want to minimise repayments in the first six months to ensure you sustain a healthy cash flow while you build your patient base.

  5. Your staffing needs and I.T. infrastructure – think about your processes, technology tools, methods for scaling up, the type and amount of staff that you will need etc.

  6. Your insurance plan and risk management strategy – consider business insurance, medical indemnity insurance, public liability insurance, personal insurance, and policies for staff and equipment etc.

  7. Your marketing strategy – look at your competitors, foot traffic, and advertising regulations. What is the best method and how much will it cost?

4. Compile your compliance and paperwork

Practising medicine is strongly regulated so while you may have the perfect location, a solid business plan and promising future plans, you can’t set up your own dental practice without having all of your compliance and paperwork completed. 

You will need to have:

  1. A Medicare provider number

  2. Informed the AHPRA

  3. ATO and business numbers

  4. GDC registration/accreditation

5. Seek and apply expert advice

Although you’re a qualified dentist, you won’t have all the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise that you’ll need to effectively set up and run a successful dental practice. Make sure to seek advice from experts to help guide you in the right direction. 

Consider building a team of advisors where you can consult in essential areas such as accountancy, law, HR, business development, and financial planning.  As your dental practice grows, your team of advisors will become trusted partners to help you develop further so that you can exceed your goals.

Do you need help setting up your own dental practice?

Setting up and running your own dental practice may give you the freedom to help patients on your own terms and to be in charge of your work-life balance, but it doesn’t come without its hardships. Like with any new business, all the researching, planning, establishing and building your practice is a lot harder than you can imagine.

Whether you need help or advice from business planning to creating a cash flow and profit strategy, we can give you our insights to ensure that whatever decision you make is a success. Just contact me via and I’d be keen to help.



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