When Debbie approached me about putting together something for this feature, I didn’t think there was much to tell. A girl went to dental school, worked a few places, and eventually bought her own practice. Along the way, she got married, did some traveling, had a few babies, etc., and this seemed ordinary. After some reflection, I realized my journey has been blessed beyond measure and might just be a story worth sharing.
In 2011, I graduated from the UMKC School of Dentistry. Dental school was grueling, and I was so excited to start my future. Next, I was privileged to obtain a spot in a General Practice Residency program at Truman Lakewood Hospital. I loved the patients and staff there. My skills and my confidence grew. I learned true respect for the practice of Public Health. I continued to work in public health in St. Joseph, MO until 2013, when Dr. Matt Garrison hired me as an associate at his private practice in Smithville, MO. This was just a few weeks after my first daughter was born. The timing was perfect. I was ready for a career change that helped me balance work/mom life more.
My time with Dr. Garrison was amazing. I learned so much from him and he is truly my mentor. Dr. Garrison gave me the opportunity to stand on my own. My skills sharpened and I experienced firsthand how to manage a successful practice. Dr. Garrison has a thriving practice and I knew I would want to model his style if I ever went out on my own.
In 2016, my second daughter was born, and I started to feel a pull to work closer to home. You see, I grew up in Blue Springs, MO and had lived there for most of my school and career. The approximately 50-60-minute commute each day was wearing on this mama. But how was I going to make that happen? I loved my job with Dr. Garrison, but the desire to not commute was growing. Also, I didn’t want to lose my relationship with my mentor.
In the summer of 2017, I did some research and connected with a dental practice broker team. We put together my “wish list” for a practice and they started looking. Within a few weeks, we found The One. It was in Independence, MO, a mere 12 minutes from my house. I took the leap and made an offer. The deal was accepted, and I was looking at some major changes headed my way! I met with Dr. Garrison and told him my plans. He was full of encouragement and wisdom. He completely understood my desire to work closer to home. He also encouraged me that this was something I was ready for. His blessing gave me peace.
The prep to purchase a dental practice was overwhelming at times. Loan officers, accountants, dental insurance reps, attorneys. So many people, documents, and services to coordinate. Amazingly, in about 6 weeks I was a small business owner!
The practice I purchased was small, yet successful. The retiring doctor had a good foundation in general dentistry. He had several longtime employees and a large patient base. From the beginning, I worked to balance his style with the style I wanted to implement. We changed the way the office scheduled, ordered supplies, and a few staff which helped improve efficiency and profitability. We made small equipment upgrades and installed a new practice management software system. Over the first few months, the practice started coming in line with my vision.
Move ahead one and a half years. Being a business owner has been another education. I’ve had victories and struggles. Dentistry is challenging; running a business is even more challenging. Somehow, the two keep coming together for me every day and things are good. We are moving to a larger location in May, new equipment is on the way, my staff is committed and focused, my patients are gracious. Also, Baby Girl #3 is coming any day! I wake up each day and wonder how this worked out for me. Here’s why: I have a husband and children who support me and keep me focused. They give me strength and humility. My parents gave me a great foundation. They showed me how to work hard and be responsible. My sister has an accounting background and manages my in-house books while trying to teach me the “numbers” world. I had the most amazing grandparents in the entire world who prayed over me daily and delighted in my successes. The staff shows up every day ready to do good work. I serve a Jesus who ALWAYS works everything out. I look back over the last few years and see HIS timing in everything. I see a blessing in every experience – good and bad.
My advice to any small business owner would be to stay focused and realistic. Find something positive about every situation. Take it one day at -a- time and make the best decisions you can with the information at hand. You set the tone for your entire office; remember that as you start each morning.
Oh, and hire a really smart accountant!
Dr. Anna Jones, DDS – March 2019