Key Things I Learned From My Failed Practice Sale


[Book Announcement: Did you know that my latest book: “Selling Your Practice” just launched today?  It includes insights from Dentistry’s top transition experts on key strategies to maximize the sale of your private practice – and to celebrate the launch, I’m offering the book for a 50% discount until midnight on Friday!]

Picture of by Dr David Phelps

by Dr David Phelps

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Drip. Drip. Drip. 

I was sitting on a hard vinyl bench beside my daughter’s hospital bed. Her brave 12-yr old body had just survived six brutal hours of surgery. The donor’s liver was now safely inside the 12-inch “Mercedez” scar across her chest and stomach, but there would be a long road to recovery. 

The drips of the IV fluid counted the hours of those long nights by her bedside. It was there, in that lonely silence that I made the decision to sell my practice. It wasn’t an easy decision – but it wasn’t too hard, either. Jenna was everything to me. 

Unfortunately, actually selling my practice was itself not going to be easy. They don’t teach how to sell your practice in dental school. 

My first attempt failed – miserably. I tried to sell to an associate, and I thought I did my due diligence; I worked hard to “do it right”. 

But I didn’t know what I didn’t know

The practice spun out of control and took a nosedive. I had to take legal action to reclaim control before it was too late. 

I was discouraged – I thought I was “finished with this”, and now it felt like I was starting all over again. But dutifully, I suited up and went to work. Except this time, I was more determined than ever to figure this out and transition successfully. 

Here are 3 of the key lessons I learned:

First, I needed to transform the practice into a business asset that doesn’t rely on me for day-to-day operations

I discovered that, in order to sell – I had to create a business asset that would be easily transferable to another owner. That meant it couldn’t rely on my clinical skills for the day-to-day operations. It was hard work – often it seemed that it would be easier for me to “just do it myself” – but I was committed. 

Second, I built the practice with the express intent to sell it. 

Most dentists do little to nothing to prepare their practice to be market ready. It’s hard work: Organizing your financials, curating assets such as your marketing list, your contracts, team member agreement, standard operating procedures… all of this must be organized, up to date, and accessible to a prospective buyer to conduct due diligence.  

Not exactly the “fun” part of dentistry. 

I didn’t even know where to start – but fortunately, I was smart enough to mentor under people who did. 

Third, I assembled the right board of advisors to navigate the transition.

I’ve learned the hard way: When things get tough, it is critical to resist the urge to retreat, bury myself in effort, and just “work harder” to solve the problem. 

When times get tough, your network becomes essential. Fortunately, I was blessed to be connected with brilliant experts who helped me rebuild the practice and ultimately, exit successfully. 

They helped me see my blind spots. I had never sold a dental practice successfully before – again, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was able to leverage decades of knowledge and expertise that I desperately needed. 

A few years later, I tried again. This time – the transition was successful. 

Why do I tell this story? 

I believe now is a key window of opportunity for practitioners to receive maximum value for their practice – but that window is closing. 

Are you in the 2nd half of your career with little or no plan for maximizing the sale of your practice? 

I’ve written a brand new book called “Selling Your Practice” – featuring exclusive interviews with Dentistry’s top transition experts. 

Click Here to Order Your Copy!


This book will help you... 


Featuring Insights and Interviews From Dentistry’s Top Transition Experts:

Order before midnight on Friday to get your copy for 50% off!

Click Here to Order Your Copy!

To your freedom!



P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are some other ways I can help fast track you to your Freedom goal (you’re closer than you think) :

1. Get Your Free Retirement Scorecard:

Benchmark your retirement and wealth-building against hundreds of other practice professionals, and get personalized feedback on your biggest opportunities and leverage points. Go to to take the 3 minute assessment and get your scorecard.

2. Attend A Workshop:

If you’re committed to Freedom, but still building a practice, paying down school debt, or growing investment capital, our hands-on Freedom Blueprint Workshops are your entrance ramp onto the fast track! Visit to claim your seat!

3. Apply To Visit The Mastermind:

If you’d like to join dozens of dentists, docs, and practice professionals on the fast track to Freedom (3-5 years or less), visit to apply for a guest seat.

4. Want to Work Directly with Me?

If you’d like to work directly with me and a small group of my closest investment colleagues, with direct access to the dealmakers and asset classes that I invest in, just send a message to my Member Advisor (, and put “Fast Access” in the subject line. Or, call (972) 203-6960 Ext 101 and leave a brief voicemail for Chris. Let him know you’re interested in the Fast Access program – we’ll set up a time with you to talk, find out about your goals, and see if there is a fit.

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