Life, Practice, and Finances are Team Sports

Seek Guidance and Alignment

Picture of by Dr David Phelps

by Dr David Phelps

Last week, I gave a few takeaways from our October Freedom Founders Event (You can read last week’s post which includes an update on the economy, the credit market, and investing here). 

There was so much insight and value in our conversations that I wanted to share a few more takeaways concerning the state of dentistry, guidance in selling your practice, and how involving your spouse in financial decisions has many benefits that go beyond the financial.

Changes in Dentistry – Owning and Selling Your Practice

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I brought Dr. Mike Abernathy, founder of Summit Practice Solutions, on the stage to discuss the changes in the dentistry industry and the issues he sees today. Here are just a few of his insights. 

They don’t teach business in dental school. Graduates are not being prepared to face the economy they will be practicing in. New graduates should seek experienced mentors in the field for lessons on running a practice as soon as possible, even before graduating.

The trend away from practice ownership: Historically, 90% of dental grads would eventually go on to become owners. Today, that number is less than 50%. There are fewer new dental grads interested in buying practices. This is driving DSO growth and will, eventually, fuel a decline in practice valuations due to a smaller pool of buyers.

Private Equity markets are putting pressure on DSOs. With the rising cost of capital, DSOs are facing headwinds that will delay or reduce recaps in the future. Much of the DSO model of years past was based on the “Greater Fool” theory. There would always be someone willing to pay more in the future. That era is coming to an end. Be wary of banking your future on the promises of potential recaps in the future. 

DSOs are now “partnering” vs buying: This is a means by which the DSO can transfer transaction risk to the doctor. More and more of the DSO’s offer is being shifted to backend profit vs upfront cash. These backend payouts are contingent on certain criteria being met. Beware the terms of your agreement. Do not be lured by the big round number being offered without understanding the terms of the offer. 

Find advisors who don’t have something to sell. With the changes in dentistry, it has never been more crucial to seek guidance from experienced mentors. Don’t try to figure it out on your own. Most practice brokers have a particular model to sell you. Look for advice from those who do not have a financial incentive toward any particular model. 

Practice Transitions in Today’s Markets

This was a powerful conversation surrounding the different models used to facilitate a practice transition. Some of our Members discussed their experiences partnering with DSOs as well as structuring sales with private buyers.

One of the most relevant insights was that not any one model of practice transition is superior. Numerous deal structures and transition models were represented in the conversation. 

One doc had an opportunity to sell to a solo buyer which would give him an immediate exit vs a multi-year obligation or “workout” on the back end. He was willing to take a lower price for the practice in exchange for the Freedom to walk away, and he had a financial game plan in place to know that he had “enough” without the need to squeeze every penny from the sale. Another practitioner orchestrated a lucrative deal with a DSO, but did so very intentionally, carefully negotiating some of the terms of the deal to fit his particular goals and values.  

The most important factor is clarity on your motivations and desired outcomes before you seek to sell your practice. Below are a few questions to consider:

  •  – Do you still enjoy practicing but want a path to fewer responsibilities surrounding     the business of dentistry?
  •  – Is your goal to create maximum freedom of time?
  •  – How dependent is your financial freedom on harvesting full value from the               practice?
  •  – Do you know how much is “enough” to be able to step away from active income       with confidence that your future is secure? 

These are critical questions that must be considered when evaluating what transition model is right for you. The goals set by your answers can be achieved through negotiation but only if you know what you’re negotiating for.

How To Accelerate Your Freedom Journey

A panel of member spouses took the stage to share lessons learned from embarking on the Freedom Founders Blueprint Journey as a couple. The discussion was heartfelt and explored the qualitative aspects of translating success into what we really want in life – Freedom of time, choice and options, and meaningful experiences in our lives. 

Becoming a team: It is crucial to understand that both spouses are an integral part of the journey. One may be the main “driver” for financial education and investing but both bring value to the table. If couples are not on the same page, struggle and confusion are often the result. But when they are aligned, it is nearly impossible to keep them from what they put their focus to.

Authentic conversations: When seeking assistance, be honest about your current life situation rather than just portraying what's expected by society. Everyone faces similar challenges, especially in a community of like-minded individuals, and there's comfort in knowing you aren't alone. The overarching theme stressed the significance of open communication and mutual support beyond just the financial aspects.

Finding unity as a couple: One of our panelists emphasized the importance of deep relationships and the value of both partners in a couple being involved in discussions and decisions. Unity in a relationship is vital, especially when navigating financial decisions. Since joining Freedom Founders, she found her husband to be more proactive and involved in financial matters.

Shared decision-making: Couples need to be on the same page financially. There are some areas of life where you should not try to divide and conquer. Working together on your finances can create shared ownership that can protect the relationship from blame or distrust if things don’t go as planned. 

The panelists’ conversation acknowledged the challenges and benefits of being transparent and open in a community setting, allowing members to share, learn, and grow together.


The central idea is that mutual understanding, respect, and collaboration within relationships, particularly during financial and life transitions, lead to more robust and healthier partnerships.

To your freedom!

– David


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. Schedule a Call with My Team:

If you’d like to replace your active practice income with passive investment income within 2-3 years, and you have at least $1M in available capital (can include residential/practice equity or practice sale), then schedule a call with my team. If it looks like there is a mutual fit, you’ll have the opportunity to attend one of our upcoming member events as a guest.

2. Become a Full-Cycle Investor:

There are many self-proclaimed genius investors today who think everything they touch turns to gold. But they’re about to learn the hard way what others have gained through “expensive” experience. I’m offering a free report on how to become a full-cycle investor, who knows how to preserve and grow capital in Up and Down markets. Will you be prepared when the inevitable recession hits? Get your free report here.

3. 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. Click here to take the 3 minute assessment and get your scorecard.

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