Dr LarryJust over 88% of dentists are practice owners, either as solo practitioners or partners. For almost every dentist, ownership becomes a consideration at some point in his or her career.

Does it make more sense to buy an existing practice or start from scratch? ADA New Dentist Now has been asking new dentists what choice they made and why.

Today is a guest post from one of a pair of married dentists, Dr. Larry Dougherty and Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty.

We Built by Dr. Larry Dougherty:

My wife and I chose to do a startup rather than buy an existing practice. Here’s why:

Our Vision: I wanted to start a practice that was built on the vision we had for a dental practice, not shape someone else’s vision into what we wanted.

MBA on the Fly: Supplies, insurance, managing staff – I knew next to nothing about the business side of dentistry even after working several years as an associate. We knew we wanted to develop business systems, not inherit the systems of another dentist, and the slow rhythm of a startup’s early days were an ideal time to understand everything at a deep level.

Pick Your Unknowns: We got advice about what numbers to look for when assessing practices, but I didn’t know what any of that all really meant. Plus, I’d heard enough horror stories of dentists not getting what they expected from practice purchases. Psychologically, you need to decide for yourself: which set of complete unknowns am I more comfortable with?

I’d Do it all Again. Our colleagues that purchased practices probably made more money than we did during those first years of ownership. On the other hand we learned lessons that will serve us well in the long run. There’s a lot of pride that comes with building something from scratch, and that experience can’t be purchased.

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Dr. Larry Dougherty and Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty are the owners of Rolling Oaks Dental in San Antonio, TX.