How to Succeed as a New Grad

It’s hard to be a new grad in dentistry today.  When I graduated over 20 years ago, things were very different.  The changes we have seen in dentistry, especially when it comes to the business aspect and running a practice, have been enormous.  Starting a new practice, especially if you have just finished dental school, is a giant challenge.  A lot of people make mistakes early on and end up getting stuck in a place they didn’t mean to get into.  It’s common now to see dentists offering discounts or free exams, and participating in “Groupon” offerings in the hopes of getting new clients.

But these people, the ones that come with that discount in mind, are not loyal clients.  They are shoppers, looking for the next cheap deal, and they will take advantage of your offer only to jump ship when the next one comes along somewhere else.  This is a bigger problem than just loyalty.  You are setting yourself up for failure if you accept this kind of behaviour because these people, once you give them a deal, will expect it every single time.  And what’s even worse, anyone they refer to you will expect it too.  You can’t run a business giving away discounts to everyone.

Where Do You Want To Be?

So, when setting up a practice as a new grad, you must know where you want to end up.  What will your business look like when it’s finally done?  A lot of people don’t know how to answer that.  But think about it.  Think about the dreams you had when you first started in dentistry:

  • What did those look like?
  • What did you think you were going to be?
  • Who did you think your patients were going to be?
  • How would you staff your practice?
  • How did you think you would manage money?

Plan, Strategically

All that stuff needs to be laid out at the very beginning, and you have to know what you need to do to get there.  That requires having a proper Strategic Plan in place.  You will often hear me talking about having a Strategic Plan and specifically how to go about creating one for your business.  But if you haven’t a clue on how to do this on your own, check out our video ‘Strategic plan’ (see

Ultimately, everything does come down to having a plan. If you want to become famous or known as an expert in something, you know that your services will not be cheap. Do not discount your fees. The key is to attract the right patients even if your beginning is super slow and painful. Start your business off right.   Make sure everyone knows who you are (even if you are only that in your dreams for now).

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

A word about “free”.  A lot of dentists give away consults for free.  Don’t do that. You spent years going to school and applied a lot of money, time and effort into your education. That has value.  There is a fee for a consult even if your clients choose not to go ahead with the advice you have given them.  You may be a new grad but your time is valuable, your expertise is valuable. Even though you are a brand-new grad out of school, you still know so much more than the patient does and need to get paid for that. Position yourself at the start, develop it right from the beginning; make your online presence what you want to be known for.

When setting up your practice, start with the end in mind and be consistent.  That’s Strategic plan 101. Think massive; have a big vision; big goals.  I have giant goals and giant vision. I believe I can achieve anything it’s simply a matter of how long it will take. Don’t put limits on what you can achieve.  When your goals are too small you get bored.  Giant goals = motivation and passion.   Small goals = distraction. Shoot for the moon; even if you don’t reach it, you will fly with the stars.