Starting a business is often seen as a leap of faith, a make-or-break decision that tests the most robust of entrepreneurs. In a world with increasing economic uncertainty and greater competition, that assessment is accurate in most cases. However, many entrepreneurs may not realize their advantage over others, namely those not native to the country where they do business. It isn’t easy to imagine being a business owner after only just becoming a citizen. But Dr. Minoo Ghamari took on that challenge in the dental space.
Ghamari and her mother, fellow dentist Dr. May Balaei, immigrated to Australia in 2013. In established professions, the process is not as simple as setting up shop in a new country. The pair were therefore faced with a critical decision regarding how to fund their future down under. Following many hurdles, they settled on setting up a cosmetic dental clinic, now known as Gorgeous Smiles.
The first of those challenges was academic but not trivial. While Ghamari had strong aspirations to follow in her mother’s footsteps, she was not immediately qualified to work as a dentist in Australia. Thus, a difficult examination period followed, where her family’s financial future weighed heavily on her shoulders.
“During the entire foundation of our business, I was constantly thinking: what will happen if I fail my exams?” Ghamari commented. “What will happen to all of my mother’s efforts and money? It was a crippling fear.”
She is referring to the numerous builders, electricians, contractors, and city councilors Balaei had to liaise with while Ghamari studied. Nonetheless, she passed her exams in 2014 and began laying the philosophical building blocks of what Gorgeous Smiles would later become.
But philosophy can’t be formed without an understanding of the existing ground. Language and culture still stood in the way of Ghamari and Balaei’s dentist dreams. And, as anyone who has permanently moved to another country will know, the process of integrating is rarely easy and usually long.
“It was difficult to start a business in a new country,” Ghamari explained. “We did not know the people, have any connections, or even understand the accent. It was lonely at first, but we knew we wanted to build up a business and a community.”
The mother-daughter duo decided on Melbourne as a location from which to grow the clinic. The positioning was ideal initially, as they could draw business from the busy surrounding offices, but soon lost its attraction as the city emptied during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regardless of contextual setbacks, Ghamari is one of the great Cosmetic Dentists in the city. Where previously her sole focus was on staying afloat, she now turns her attention to expansion within the state of Victoria and beyond into the country she has made her home.
Since the pandemic began, Gorgeous Smiles has grown four times over, now operating multiple chairs that provide aesthetic dental care. It started with a capacity of one and a workforce of two. No prizes for guessing who those two employees were.