One of the best parts about owning a business for dentists Jess and John Lim is being able to work by their own rules.
The husband and wife team never planned on being business partners, but working in the same industry and sharing the same passion naturally led to the opening of Oak Tree Ballarat Dental in Alfredton five years ago.
Ms Lim grew up in Melbourne after moving to Australia from Korea at the age of two. Mr Lim, also from Korea, moved to Australia when he was in high school.
The pair met while studying at Melbourne University.
Ms Lim began her career working for a corporate in Melbourne and Mr Lim for a practice in Castlemaine.
But both had a desire to live and work in regional Victoria, so they made the move to Ballarat 10 years ago.
“The corporate I was working for had set branches and Ballarat was the one closest to Castlemaine,” Ms Lim said.
“I used to come to Ballarat all the time growing up – whenever we had relatives from overseas we would take them to Sovereign Hill.”
The adjustment from city to regional life took time for the just-married couple with no friends or connections.
“But Ballarat has changed a lot in the last 10 years and we’ve really fallen in love with it,” Ms Lim said.
“We have two boys that go to school here, all their friends are here and we’ve made so many friends along the way – it’s definitely home now.”
The couple built Oak Tree from scratch with the Longley Street site previously home to an accountancy practice and naturopath clinic.
“My father is our builder so it has been a very family-run business from the beginning,” Ms Lim said.
Now with seven dentists and 15 support staff, the clinic is undergoing a nearly complete expansion.
“I was here on my own at the start… but we’ve been really lucky with all of the staff and that’s one of the reasons why we grew so quickly,” Mr Lim said.
“If we had done the same thing in Melbourne I think things would have been perhaps a bit different.
“In a country town, if you do good, honest work and if you’re genuine enough I feel patients will come to you, whether it be a surgery or a shop, but as long as you stick to those principles.”
He said rather than advertise, the clinic had built its patient base through word of mouth and referrals.
The couple has based the business on three fundamentals, honesty, artistry and excellence in dental services, and incorporate the latest technologies such as 3D revolution implants and stem cell technology.
But when it comes to working at the same clinic, the reality is they’re so busy they do not even eat lunch together.
“We have different interests within our fields but working as dentists, we actually don’t see each other at all,” Ms Lim said.
“It’s more about the running of the business itself that we do together.”
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