Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Business of Dentistry with Dr Leah Totton

Back last month I attended an evening of talks about the Business of Dentistry including a presentation with a previous winner of the Apprentice Dr Leah Totton

Dr Leah speaking at the event

Dr Leah is director of a cosmetic skin clinic in London which she founded alongside Alan Sugar after winning the apprentice. She spoke to us about the medico-legal issues with setting up a business in medicine, building up a brand and setting up your practice. 

As well as Dr Leah, one of this year's Apprentice candidates Jenny Garbis spoke about the different ways to fund your business and Simon Tucker from Practice Plan spoke about how to set up your first practice. There was also a guest appearance from Dr Nav Ropra who rounded up the evening with his usual inspirational self!

So what issues are there when setting up a medical business?


The market is becoming increasingly saturated with services; however cosmetic medicine is booming, with 72% of cosmetic procedures being performed are now non-surgical.  BUT there are challenges to overcome as the world of business is very different to the world of medicine:
  • How are you going to brand your practice?
  • What will be your USP (unique selling point)
  • How will you staff your practice and how to manage them?
  • What treatments will you provide? (Base this on the clinical effectiveness, the demand for this treatment and the margin you will make)
  • Will you have a website? How much are you going to spend on it?
  • If you are setting up a squat, you will need architects to help you comply to regulations e.g. CQC
  • How will you advertise? Be aware of Advertising Standards Agency regulations. How much are you willing to spend? Costs can spiral, consider the use of social media

Dr Leah recommended building solid foundations in your business - when you decide to scale make sure you quality scale i.e. don't run before you can walk!


Funding options for your business


Jenny has worked for many different start-ups and so understands the how businesses are set up including the importance of a good Business plan. But what options are there to get the funding? 

1. Personal savings/family or friends
2. Debt finance
3. Soft loans 
4. Bootstrapping
5. Consumer funding
6. Venture capitalism
7. Government support/public funding
8. Business angels
9. Crowd funding
10. Tax relief


The business side of Dentistry is something we are not directly taught at Dental School and certainly when I first graduated when it came down to the money talk with patients it was definitely something that I was not comfortable with. It's important to learn how to have these conversations and value the treatments we provide. 

90% of dentistry is performed in primary care in businesses that are on the whole run by individuals or partners (only around 8% of the market are corporates), so there are plenty of opportunities for dentists to become business owners. This may not be for everyone, but was definitely one of the reasons I chose to become dentist in the first place!

Thanks to all the speakers from the evening and to Ajay and the KCL Dentsoc for organising the event! 


Did you attend the event? What did you learn from the speakers? Let me know in the comments below!



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