Dr. Khuong Nguyen is the owner and operator of Clairemont Pediatric Dental, a pediatric dental practice in San Diego, California. Dr. Khuong Nguyen has been operating Clairemont Pediatric Dental since 2003, but has been a practicing dentist since 1997. Dr. Nguyen received his degree from the University of Southern California in 1997. Following his graduation from dental school, Dr. Khuong Nguyen pursued an additional year of advanced studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
After his additional year of advanced studies at UCLA, Khuong Nguyen decided to pursue a career in pediatric dentistry. Dr. Nguyen moved to Brooklyn, New York and completed a residency in pediatric dentistry at Lutheran Medical Center. Khuong Nguyen received the honor of being awarded “Best Project in Pediatric Dentistry”, which was a research award given to pediatric dental residents at Lutheran Medical.
After several years of being in private practice, Dr. Khuong Nguyen became a Board Certified pediatric dentist. He is proud to say that his practice will have been open for 20 years next year.
Khuong Nguyen lives in San Diego, California with his wife and enjoys playing tennis, listening to live music, and exploring the various restaurants throughout the county.
Where did the idea for Clairemont Pediatric Dental come from?
As a practicing dentist, the idea of starting your own dental practice is something that you may be thinking about from time to time. For myself, I considered the idea of opening my own practice for some time after completing my pediatric dental residency at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. There are pros and cons to owning your own dental practice, not only are you running a practice, but you are also running a small business. Before opening Clairemont Pediatric Dental in San Diego, California, I had been a practicing dentist for 3 years in San Diego. When it came time to opening my own practice, the idea of opening Clairemont Pediatric Dental first stemmed from a conversation that I had with one of my dental school colleagues. We spoke about the positives and negatives of opening not only a practice, but also a small business. With time, I felt that the positives of opening up my own practice outweighed the negatives. I felt opening Clairemont Pediatric Dental would allow me to have more autonomy in my professional and personal life, so in 2003 I confidently made the shift from working as an employee within a dental practice to owning my own. Since opening Clairemont Pediatric Dental, I have never looked back. Of course, owning your own dental practice and business comes with its ups and downs, but I am happy I made this decision. I am also proud to say that Clairemont Pediatric Dental will have been open for 20 years, next year, in 2023. Owning my own dental practice began as an idea, but with the right planning, execution, and support, this idea has become one of the best decisions that I have made.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
By 8 am, I can be found at my office, where I begin each morning communicating with my staff regarding the patients that we will be seeing that day. During the day, we will be working as a team, so it is important to me that each day starts with communication between myself and my team. My work day usually ends around 5 PM, but everyday is a bit different, and so although there is a routine to our schedule, the work itself changes with each day. As a pediatric dentist, you always have to be prepared for patients that may not be on the morning schedule, but that need to be seen. Shifts and changes to the schedule happen daily, but it is all part of the job. When there is downtime, as well as at the end of the work day, I manage the business side of the practice.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As a dental practice owner it is important to meet up with other colleagues to share ideas regarding dentistry, as well as the ins and outs of running a practice and small business. Study clubs allow myself and other dentists to share new ideas with each other, as well as learn from one another. Being able to bounce ideas off other like minded professionals, allows me to confidently bring new ideas to life within my own practice. The study clubs that I belong to also allow for myself and its members to share in learning about the most current research within our profession. Being able to speak about new ideas and research within the dental profession within a group setting, broadens everyone’s understanding of these new ideas and provides a network for myself and others when we want to bring some of these ideas to life within our own practices.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Although Youtube has been a trend for some time, this social media platform allows myself, as well as others, to take part in new experiences and travel the world without leaving the comforts of home. I enjoy learning about the arts, new foods, and traveling. Youtube provides a platform where I can immerse myself in new travel experiences, experience dining at restaurants around the world, or find out about the nuances of a film that I have enjoyed for years.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One habit that I have that makes me productive as an entrepreneur is playing the game of tennis. Playing tennis allows me to stay active and keep my mind sharp. Tennis allows for me to have mental alertness and thinking critically when practicing dentistry. Also, taking time to stay healthy allows me to have the energy needed to be present during the day with patients.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The advice I would give to my younger self would be to take a chance on owning your own business, to not hold back, but also to be aware of the changes in trends when it comes to technology and business. I think when something is not familiar to yourself you tend to shy away from what comes naturally and stay within your own comfort zone. Over the past 20 years, technology has played a huge part in business marketing. I would tell my younger self to invest in understanding how technology can help running a small business.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Don’t take work stress home with you.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Again, I can’t stress the act of exercise enough when it comes to keeping your mind sharp and helping yourself obtain mental clarity throughout the day. I would also recommend yoga as a practice to anyone who needs help with letting go of the challenges of running a business. Yoga has helped me be able to balance my work and personal life. There are days when yoga is a great way to end a challenging work day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that I have used to help grow my business is reaching out to local community groups, as well as networking with other dentists within the San Diego region. Networking with professionals, as well as local community groups, can help with marketing and growing your business, but more importantly can also widen your understanding of the needs within your community.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One obstacle that I have had to overcome has been realizing that I cannot wear all the hats of the business. It is important as a business operator, as well as the owner of a practice, to be able to delegate and find the strengths of each staff member. Knowing your staff and their strengths can help build your confidence in delegating important tasks to certain individuals. Trying to take on too much when you are operating a business solely, and not trusting those that you have hired, can have a negative impact on your business. I have learned this the hard way, but have also quickly learned that trusting those that you work with and learning to delegate can positively impact your business, as well as the patient experience.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One business idea that I would share with anyone starting their own business would be own your own real estate.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Recently I purchased a nice bottle of wine for a colleague that gave me great business advice.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Dentrix is a dental software that I use for scheduling, billing, patient recall, and record keeping. This software provides solutions for my business, as well as solutions for the clinical part of my dental practice. This software helps with the ongoing communication between my practice and patients.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a book that I would recommend to anyone that has an interest in entrepreneurship. This book provides a context that teaches that common sense can lead to success. The book highlights the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.
What is your favorite quote?
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.