Financial Planning for Dental Startups: Insights from a Dental CPA

Dentist at her new startup office

You’ve earned your dental degree and improved your skills, and now you’re brimming with the ambition to launch your own practice. This is an exciting time, but it also requires careful planning. Transitioning from clinician to entrepreneur introduces a whole new set of financial considerations. As a dental CPA who has seen countless startups navigate these waters, I’d like to offer some insights that can help ensure your dream practice gets off to a smooth and successful start.

Budgeting: The Foundation of Your Financial Plan

Before you begin purchasing equipment and renovating your office, it’s crucial to create a detailed budget first. This will enable you to make well-informed financial decisions and prepare for any potential challenges. Here are some key areas to consider when developing your budget:

  1. Startup Costs: This includes equipment (dental chairs, x-ray machines, etc.) and furniture to rent, permits, insurance, and marketing materials. To determine your practice’s overall budget, research industry averages and consider specific needs such as specialization and technology preferences.
  2. Operational Costs: Once your doors open, there will be ongoing expenses like salaries, dental supplies, utilities, insurance for liability, property and employee health, and software subscriptions. Estimate monthly and annual costs to understand your cash flow needs.
  3. Debt Service: If you plan to secure financing, you should consider including monthly loan payments in your budget. This will help you determine how much of your monthly income will go towards paying off your debts. 
  4. Living Expenses: Don’t forget to account for your own personal living expenses while your practice builds its patient base. This can include rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, transportation costs, and any other personal expenses you may have. Make sure to budget for these expenses so that you can effectively manage your finances during the early stages of your practice.

Remember, your budget is a living document. Revisit it regularly and adjust as needed based on new information or changes in your business plan.

Securing Capital and Preparing for Expansion

Most dental practices require some form of financing to get off the ground. This can be offered by private lenders and investors, traditional banks, and financial institutions specializing in healthcare lending, such as Bank of America Practice Solutions, Wells Fargo Practice Finance, and Live Oak Bank. Common options include:

  • Small Business Loans: The SBA offers a variety of loan programs specifically for dentists. Explore options like the 7(a) loan, which provides flexible financing for various business needs.
  • Practice Acquisition Loans: If you’re considering acquiring an existing practice, specialized financing options are available. 
  • Equipment Loans: Financing the purchase of essential equipment allows you to spread out the cost and preserve working capital.
  • Lines of Credit: A line of credit provides a safety net for unexpected expenses or short-term cash flow fluctuations.

When securing financing, it’s important to present a well-defined business plan to lenders. This demonstrates your vision, understanding of the market, and financial feasibility. 

Working with a dental CPA experienced in startups can be invaluable. We can help refine your financial projections, prepare loan applications, and negotiate favorable loan terms. If you wish to learn more about this topic, you can read our helpful Guide to Secure Financing for Dental Practice Loans.

Cash Flow Management Tips

Cash flow management is essential for any business, especially for a startup. Cash flow acts as the oxygen of your business, and managing it effectively ensures that your practice remains financially healthy.

It usually begins with a solid billing and collection system to make sure payments are received on time. This will help streamline the process and save you from having to constantly follow up. You can even consider outsourcing medical billing to dedicated firms, so your team can focus on patient care.

Tracking your accounts receivable and inventory is another vital aspect of cash flow management. Keep a close eye on patient balances and use a strong collection strategy to minimize bad debt. This might involve setting up reminder systems, offering flexible payment plans, or working with collection agencies for overdue accounts. 

Your inventory should stay at the right levels. Having too much stock can waste resources while having too little can mean missing out on sales. Use an inventory management system to track supply levels and usage patterns. This will help you maintain the perfect amount of stock.

Last but not least, I would like to highlight a very important strategy: forecast your cash flow needs by using your budget to predict future cash inflows and outflows. This will help you prepare for any potential shortages and take action, like cutting expenses or getting more funding. Keep reviewing and updating your cash flow predictions to stay on top of your financial situation.

Financial Implications of Starting a Practice:

Many dentists seem to be unaware about the financial implications specific to opening a dental practice. Some may not fully understand the legal and licensing requirements for starting a dental practice, which can cause unexpected problems later on. 

Besides following the tips I mentioned above, here are some considerations you should keep in mind:

  • Tax Considerations: The legal structure you choose for your practice (sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporation, etc.) impacts your tax obligations. For instance, an S corporation can provide tax benefits by allowing income to be taxed at the shareholder level, reducing self-employment taxes. Consulting with a dental CPA can help you determine the structure most advantageous for your situation.
  • Risk Management: Protecting your practice from unforeseen events like malpractice lawsuits is crucial. Dental-specific insurance policies are available to mitigate financial risks.
  • Retirement Savings: As a business owner, contributing to an individual retirement account (IRA) or Solo 401(k) is essential to build a nest egg for your future.

Building Your Financial Team: Why a Dental CPA is Essential

Starting a dental practice can be overwhelming, but with the right team by your side, you can overcome any challenge. A dental CPA specializing in dentistry can be your trusted advisor on this journey. We understand the unique challenges and opportunities dentists face and provide tailored financial advice and strategies to help you succeed. From tax planning and compliance to financial forecasting and business strategy, a dental CPA offers invaluable expertise to help you run your financial operations. If you’re starting a practice from zero and need a partner, Dental CPA California is your most trusted accountant. With extensive experience and a deep understanding of the dental industry, we are committed to helping you achieve financial success. Our dedicated team provides personalized services that address your specific needs, ensuring that you have the support necessary to build a financially robust and thriving practice. Schedule a consultation with our expert, Fazel Mostashari, here

About Our Experts

Fazel Mostashari is a dental practice expert whose specialty is financial accounting, tax planning, and practice purchase and set up for the dental industry. For over 10 years, Fazel has been the driving force behind the success of many dental practices.

As a proud husband to a dentist, he understands the unique challenges of running a dental practice. Together, they run a thriving, multi-specialty practice in the sunny city of Woodland Hills, CA.

If you’re looking for expert advice, set up a consultation with Fazel.
Fazel Mostashari: Dental Practice Financial Expert

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