Fulfilling my dreams at the age of 25: Miss Alissa’s Story
I had many dreams for my life … love, family, laughter, service, beauty, creativity, growth, and purpose.
At the age of 25 I looked back on my relatively short life and felt fabulously fulfilled. After finding an incredible husband, graduating with a masters degree in my dream profession, obtaining a job in a devastating economy, building my dream house, giving birth to the most fabulous and beautiful child, I looked around at my blessed life and I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace. After achieving every goal I had set early on in my life, I found myself being constantly drawn to the more “unachievable” goals that I had lingering in the back of my head. I had found great purpose in my life by setting goals and working relentlessly until I had achieved them, and my heart couldn’t stop searching for the next goal to attempt. A Private Practice. My mind continually wandered to this idea. However, I constantly shot it down with thoughts of inadequacy and reasons for why I could not accomplish it. I was too young… no one would take me seriously… I knew nothing about starting a business… I didn’t have the same level of experience as my older colleagues… etc. I believe the real reason I resisted starting a private practice initially was all due to fear. Fear of putting myself out there and being rejected. What if people didn’t like me? What if no-one felt that I was a good therapist? How could I take other people’s hard earned money knowing that I was not (and never would be) a perfect therapist? I was overwhelmingly plagued by the idea that if I started a private practice and it wasn’t successful, it would ultimately mean that I was unsuccessful as an individual. I was scared to “sell myself”. I was scared to build something entirely on my name — and my personality – and my character – and MYSELF.
Luckily for me I have been blessed with an unbelievably supportive husband. He took every negative thought I had and turned it around. He made me see every reason why I should start a private practice. He led me through my fears and answered every question I had until I had no other choice then to take that first leap of faith. And that is how it all began. That first leap of faith led to lots of late night discussions, scratch paper plans, google searches, and various phone calls and e-mails.
The initial research and planning then led to the following actions…
1.Writing a business plan
See Jena’s super helpful post for guidance @ http://independentclinician.com/how-to-write-a-business-plan-a-guide-for-physical-occupational-and-speech-therapy-providers/.
2. Obtaining licensing
City License (my city’s business license website http://www.paysonutah.org/development.businesslicensing.html)
State License (my state’s business license website http://www.dopl.utah.gov/licensing/speech_audiology.html)
3. Building a website
Check mine out at www.utahspeechtherapy.com
4. Designing business cards
5. Creating brochures
Check mine out at http://www.utahscommunicationconnection.com/downloads/brochure.pdf
I then needed to prepare my location. My plan was to conduct therapy out of two bedrooms in my home (a therapy room and an observation room). I set up the rooms by purchasing discounted/used furniture and sprucing them up. I bought a laptop computer and some standardized tests to get started. I organized and set up all the therapy materials I had gathered over the last few years. Financially I invested in total a little over $2000 to get my business started.
My next step was marketing (a website does nothing for you if no-one knows it exists). I contacted the local early intervention agency and asked if I could give a small presentation. I spoke to therapists that worked for the local school district. I took some business cards to my baby’s check-up appointment and presented my business ideas to the pediatrician. I sent letters and brochures to other pediatricians in the area. And then I waited…
Referrals came. People were interested. It was exciting and exhilarating. As the months progressed, my remaining fears of being inadequate slowly began to fade. I realized that I did not have to “sell myself” as much as I thought I would need to. I realized that I did not need to be the “perfect” therapist. By the time most people contacted me they were very serious about helping their children and were already invested in the process. All I had to do was make sure that I was providing appropriate therapy that was planned out and effective.
We (as SLPs) are so fortunate to work in a field that has a great deal of demand. People search us out – we just have to make ourselves known. We get to change their lives. What an incredible blessing. As far as my life goes now – I feel like I am truly living the dream. I spend most days at home with my little one – and provide therapy privately on the side.
I get to work out of my home which has great advantages (such as throwing a load of laundry in the washer in-between clients, eating lunch at home, having all my therapy supplies and materials at my fingertips, getting some of my mortgage written off by conducting therapy in my home, etc.). When I finally committed to beginning my private practice I did so because I realized there were far too many advantages that outweighed the fears I had – and I had to face the risks and take the first leap of faith. My reasoning behind sharing my experience is simply for me to be to you all… what my husband was to me… a support system, a cheerleader, a confidant, a sounding board, and a friend. It was my dream and I did it. If it is your dream you can do it too!!!