Pros and cons of opening your own office Skip to main content

Pros and cons of opening your own office

Many dentists believe that owning their own practice is the natural progression in any successful career. Others have no interest at all in running their own business. Who’s right?

It depends. Here are some pros and cons to each career path to help you make a more informed choice.

Advantages of working as an associate dentist

  • Your primary role is clinical care. Working as an associate means that most of your work day is spent doing dental work.
  • You don’t have to manage a team of employees. Hiring and firing staff, training, disciplinary issues, team meetings and annual reviews will all be the responsibility of the practice owner.
  • Flexibility to move. Starting your own practice is a long-term commitment that will require you to live in the same area indefinitely. Working for someone else is a better option for someone who likes to move around.
  • Steady earnings. As an employee you’ll be reliably compensated for the work you complete. While you’ll give up the potential for higher earnings, you don’t have to worry so much about a down year for the business or paying off business-related expenses.

Disadvantages of working as an associate dentist

  • Lower earning potential. In exchange for a reliable salary, you give up the opportunity for a big payoff. In particular, the chance to sell your final paid-off practice when you retire.
  • Less autonomy over your dentistry. While some employers will offer more freedom and flexibility than others, you’ll ultimately be playing by someone else’s rules.
  • Less control over business decisions. From the office layout to marketing, how supplies are stocked and who is hired or fired, all the things you don’t have to worry about are also things you’ll have little control over.

Advantages of owning your own practice

  • Control your own destiny. You will control everything, including your schedule, the treatments you’ll offer, equipment you’ll use and the people you’ll work with.
  • Create an office culture that matches your personality. Running the show isn’t just about making more money. It’s also about crafting a vision and watching it come to life.
  • Potential for greater earnings. It’s important to note that a well-paid associate dentist will earn more than an unsuccessful owner – but broadly speaking, dentists who own their practice tend to see higher income over the long run.

Disadvantages of owning your own practice

  • Many hats to wear. Running a successful practice is a juggling act with a never-ending to-do list.
  • Financial stress. Over the long haul you’re more likely to accumulate more wealth as an owner–but in the short term, the financial pressures of paying for overhead, payroll, insurance, rent, equipment, supplies and so on can be exhausting.
  • Less flexibility for major changes. You won’t have the ability to move states or take a few months off.

Find the right life balance

Everyone’s wants and needs are different. Some prefer the more structured and less stressful life of an associate dentist and others prefer having their name on the door and all the tradeoffs that comes with it. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s right for you.

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