Purse Strings – June

Daddy’s Little Girl

By Wiles Magazine

At 5 years old, Nitalya Williams sat in her father’s chair, grabbed one of his dentistry tools and told one of his patients to “open wide.” Several years later, she and her father are a team, working side-by-side, as partners in practice at Williams and Williams Orthodontics. She recently chatted with Wiles about some of the challenges and rewards that come with starting a family business.  Here are some of the thoughts she shared:

Wiles: WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?  

NW: I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California.  After high school, I attended Hampton University for undergraduate school and attended Howard University for my six years of graduate school (four years dental, 2 years orthodontics).  There’s a very famous rivalry between Hampton and Howard University, I’m one of the amazing people who can actually claim both “H U’s!”

Wiles:  HOWARD UNIVERSITY HAS BEEN CREDITED FOR PRODUCING MANY OF THE AFICAN AMERICAN DENTISTS IN THE U.S.  DESCRIBE BEING PART OF SUCH A PRESTIGIOUS PROGRAM.

NW: There were only six slots in my orthodontics class, and that helped foster a close familial bond and healthy competition between us.  We became sort of a family over the two years we spent there.  We challenged and pushed each other, and that was a good thing.  It’s important to surround yourself with people who not only support you, but who help make you better, as well.

Wiles: MANY PEOPLE HAVE A FEAR OR APPREHENSION ABOUT GOING TO THE DENTIST.  WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO VISIT THE DENTIST REGULARLY?

NW: As part of our professional training, dentists learn about the entire body, as well as the head and mouth.  Physicians don’t necessarily learn about the mouth. Sometimes indications of diseases like diabetes can b detected in your mouth before they express themselves in other areas of the body.  For instance, various types of carcinomas (cancers) can be detected in your mouth as a result of smoking.  And thrush– whitish, velvety lesions in the mouth and on the tongue—may be an indicator of illnesses pertaining to the immune system, including HIV. Even though visits to the dentist may be intimidating and costly, it’s critical to see a dentist through regular check-ups.  You need proper health of your mouth in order to thrive.

Wiles:  HAVING GROWN UP IN THE FAMILY BUSINESS, WAS IT A GIVEN THAT YOU’D FOLLOW IN YOUR FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS?

NW: Not at all!  I originally planned to go into radiology; but shortly after finishing an externship while I was an undergrad, I got bored.  I like to talk to people, to engage, and I wanted to interact with patients – which you can’t really do in that field.  And, I knew that the ability to have a personal life was just as important to me as achieving success in my career.  I remembered my father – how he was always there for us as a family, how he always had time for us and made us a priority.  I realized that orthodontics would fulfill me both professionally and personally—that it would provide me with the opportunity to actually l ive my life the way I want to live it.  It’s critical – no matter what field you choose to pursue – to have balance in your life.

Wiles:  HOW DID YOU AND YOUR FATHER ULTIMATELY LAUNCH YOUR PRACTICE?

NW: My father ran The Teeth Spa practice in Inglewood, California for 30 years.  Even though he’s been gone from that area for years, the sign is still there!  The neighborhood and his former patients have never forgotten him for transforming their smile and, in the process, their self-esteem.  When he retired in 1997, he asked me and my sisters several times if we’d be interested in taking over his practice.  No one wanted to do it!  My sister Nicole followed in our mother’s footsteps and became an attorney; and my other sister, Natasha, is a teacher.  My brother went into hospice care, but more on the business administration side, so, as the baby of the family, I was sort of my father’s last hope!  Dad was so excited and proud when he found out I was in dental school.  Once I completed my studies, my father came out of a ten-year retirement to help develop a practice with me, from scratch.

Wiles:  DESCRIBE WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WORK WITH YOUR FATHER.

NW: It’s a nice blend of tried-and-true methods coupled with new technology and social media.  We balance each other.  In every sense, we work side-by-side, and we’re building our practice together.  My father is extremely laid back.  He feels that he has built his practice, and now it’s my turn.  I make most of the marketing and business development decisions for the practice.  When it comes to patient care, I work under his tutelage.  My father is a wonderful mentor with over 30 years of experience.  It’s great to have him there.

Wiles:  HOW IS BEING A FAMILY REFLECTED IN YOUR PRACTICE?

NW: Our family dynamic definitely transfers to the business.  As an orthodontist, you’re developing relationships with your patients, seeing them every four to six weeks, typically over two to three years.  Our patients are like family and we want to make them feel like family. We try to remain connected, reliable, and really hands-on to give patients the attention they need and deserve. We make ourselves available via email and ensure that patients are comfortable calling with questions.  As a family business, we also try to provide a small, comfortable, intimate environment.

Wiles:  WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

NW: It’s very rewarding to see the transformation in my patients.  When people first walk into my office, they don’t realize that their lives are going to change.  In the process of re-aligning someone’s teeth, their whole face changes.  The smile is such an important feature – it’s the gateway to who we are.  But when people first come to me, they are often ashamed of their smiles.  Giving someone a great smile boosts their confidence and changes the way they relate to others.  When patients leave us, they leave smiling and confident, and that’s extremely rewarding.

Wiles:  WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR FAMILIES WHO MAY BE CONSIDERING STARTING A BUSINESS TOGETHER?

NW: Good communication is important in any endeavor – especially in business.  I suggest having regular meetings, first, so that you can sit down and really map out the concept of what the business is and how you’d like to see the business grow.  Discuss the vision that you have and how you want to go about accomplishing the vision and the goals.  Then set up weekly meetings to discuss things like finance, marketing and staff.  Everyone involved must be up to speed about what’s going on at all times.  Always come with new ideas, and don’t be afraid to try some new tactic or approach – especially in this economy.  Running a business is already a risk, so you might as well go the extra mile and test new ideas.  Having a great mentor is another key factor for success.  It’s so important to learn what works from other people who’ve had success in the same field you’re pursuing.

[learn_more caption="To learn more about Dr. Nitalya Williams, please contact:" state="open"] Williams & Williams Orthodontics

50 N. La Cienega Blvd, Suite 217

Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Phone 8665317645

www.wedobraces.com [/learn_more]

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