Though dental clinics adhere to strict infection control procedures as a matter of course, the outbreak of Covid-19 has led to even stricter guidelines. “As a new practice owner, this has been a significant challenge to overcome,” says Johal. “From the opening of my practice being pushed back due to worldwide PPE shortages, to having to keep up to date with all new operating procedures as well as government guidelines, all while trying to keep patients and staff safe – it has been a huge learning curve. But the ethos of my practice – honesty, inclusivity, kindness and excellence (HIKE) – and the vision of the type of environment I am trying to cultivate for both patients and staff members has kept me going.”
And while the past 12 months might have been a “baptism of fire” for the business, Johal feels they have laid a strong foundation for the future. “This past year, with all its trials and tribulations has given me the gift of knowing that by pulling together and working as a strong team can get you through even the toughest of times.”
Looking ahead, Johal hopes that the practice will continue to grow organically from word-of-mouth referrals. “One of my patients said that having a good relationship with your dentist is like having a good relationship with your hairdresser – once you find one you like, you never let them go,” she says. “I truly hope my team and I can work to build a safe space where patients feel valued and cared for so that we can continue to provide them with the best service possible.”
For Johal, the events of the past year or so have also served to drive home the power of community. “Now that the practice has been established and we have started to come through these trying times, I hope to carry this spirit of community forward,” she says. “My aim for the coming year outside of the practice will be to work with other local businesses to create a local network of business owners that can be there for each other in hard times. Having started this initiative when I first opened, I would like to establish a safe space where other like-minded business owners can share their troubles and learn from each other’s stories.”
Johal says that while starting a business is “tough for anyone”, she believes women do have some obstacles to overcome that don’t surface for men quite so often. “I’ve personally suffered my fair share of imposter syndrome, and I often wondered if I would be found out for not knowing enough or being business savvy enough. It wasn’t until I accepted that everyone has these fears, and that these thoughts shouldn’t stop us from pursuing our dreams, that I truly leaned into my journey as a practice owner.
“My advice for other women who may find themselves spiralling as I did is simple: keep going! There will be tough days and days that you feel like giving up, but I promise when it’s all said and done, you will be so glad that you gave it your all and kept going through it all. We got this.”
On being featured in the Female Focus #BeTheRoleModel initiative, Johal says: “Being recognised for all your efforts is always a great feeling, but to have a platform such as this, geared towards making women feel empowered, is amazing.
“Professionally, having an accolade such as this is a great benchmark for my practice in its very first year. And personally, I feel showcasing women and their efforts in business will encourage other women to pursue their business goals and lead to more diversity in business, which can only be a good thing.”