Buying an Existing Practice vs. Starting from Scratch

After proving yourself as a capable orthodontist, there may come a time when the idea of owning your own private practice is the natural next step. Most people imagine themselves starting their own business, but there are also plenty of reasons to consider buying an existing practice. Which option is best for you depends on your own unique situation and ambitions.

Starting Your Own Practice

Many of the advantages of starting your own business are the things that entrepreneurs dream about. You get to create your own distinct brand, develop a unique office culture, and design a business model that operates how you want.

Plus, you get to plant your private practice where you want. If you find an open office space that has what you’re looking for and falls within your budget, you can immerse yourself in the community and neighborhood of your choosing.

Of course, venturing down this road comes with its fair share of risks. Starting a business takes a lot of money upfront, which means you’ll need to rely on lenders and perhaps some of your own cash reserves to get going. Attracting enough patients to make a brand-new practice profitable can be an even bigger challenge.

However, if you do get approved and start turning a profit relatively quickly, you’ll get the pleasure of watching something you started grow and develop, which is a feeling all business owners cherish.

Buying an Existing Practice

On the other hand, many orthodontists find success in buying an existing practice. And there are plenty of reasons you may want to consider this for yourself.

While buying a practice may take more money upfront than starting one from scratch, lenders tend to see buying a business with an established customer base and proven track record as less of a risk. This means you should expect to have an easier time getting approved for a business acquisition loan compared to a startup loan.

You also may find that creating a brand isn’t a big priority for you and you would rather jump right into treating patients at an existing office. Depending on the market, you may be able to find an existing office for sale in the location you want with the type of patient base you hope to treat more easily than if you started your own office. But if you find a good practice with a strong patient base for sale, you’ll be able start treating patients right away and have a more immediate revenue stream.

However, buying an existing practice comes with its own share of challenges as well. Some owners may not be forthcoming about the true value of their practice, and you may deal with owners who are wishy-washy about their desire to sell. And once you get started, you may find you have more cleaning up to do than you expected when it comes to bringing the practice up to your standards.

Buying an orthodontic practice with a team already in place can be a positive or a negative. Having employees who work well together and know the processes can be a big benefit. But if you decide you want to change some of the processes, you may be met with some resistance. Staff members who worked for the previous doctor for a long time may also have a hard time seeing you as their boss.

At the end of the day, the decision of whether to buy an existing practice or start your own will depend on what’s most important to you.