More often than not, dentists go into business without a formalized business plan. They may have ideas, notes, contacts, and seed money, but no formal plan. Many people assume that a business plan is only necessary if you’re seeking investors. That’s simply not true. Think of a business plan as a syllabus for your first few years of practice ownership. It will help you define all important aspects of your business venture, create goals, and stay on track when life sprouts briars that blog your path to success.
The US Small Business Administration offers a free, online business plan template that will help you see your business from all angles. Even if you’ve been in practice for years, a business plan can help you focus for growth.
Here are some definitions and considerations to prepare you for creating your business plan. If you need assistance or want to talk about ways to balance your personal and professional life, while being successful in both areas, call me, The Dentist’s Coach®.
Index of Important Business Terms
You may come across these phrases when creating your business plan or talking to colleagues about marketing.
- Brand: A brand is not a logo or a tagline. A brand is what people think about when they see your logo or hear your name. Your professional accomplishments, personality, team, office décor, and many other factors go into your brand. For instance, if parking is difficult at your office, that might be the first thing someone thinks about when they see your name in the local paper. Instead, create a brand that makes people think about excellent service and excellent dental care!
- Corporate/Company Culture: The look, feel, and values of your practice and team members have much to do with the company culture. Remember that your patients will experience the culture you create. If you want a warm, welcoming, relaxed practice, your team members and your office’s atmosphere must convey this message. The online shoe retailer Zappos! earned a reputation for having a great company culture. Read the core values that sculpted their culture here.
- Long-Term Goals: These are the items you want to achieve over approximately 5 years.
- Short-Term Goals: These are the items you want to achieve in the next 1 to 3 years.
- Target Market: Your target market is made up of your ideal patients. Determine the age, gender, income bracket, payment method, health condition, and case parameters of your ideal patient. Next, research the demographics of the communities within 8-12 miles of your office. Hopefully, your ideal patient exists in the community you serve! If not, you might need to rethink your situation.
Your mission and vision statements will be lighthouses for your business plan’s content, with every goal and decision reaching toward those lights. These definitions should help you understand the purpose of these two important statements.
- Mission Statement: A mission statement is not a string of words that’s the same for every dental office. On the contrary, it should be one or two concise sentences that conveys where your passion is aimed and what the target looks like. What are you doing and why? For instance, “With compassion and clinical excellence, we are dedicated to helping people enjoy superb oral health and high quality life.” Compassion, helping people, and clinical excellence are the passion; creating great oral health and high quality lives is the goal.
- Vision Statement: A vision statement goes a bit further than a mission statement and can be longer than a sentence or two. The focus of the vision statement is goals and aspirations. Look to your future for your vision statement. Think inspiration! Microsoft’s vision statement is: Empower people through great software anytime, anyplace, and on any device.”