Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carolyn Snyder, MS, CCC-SLP and Constance Rozendaal, MS, CCC-SLP, Founders of Active Language and Learning, located in Menlo Park, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Active Language and Learning is a private practice that serves school-aged students in the areas of language, executive function, memory and processing, reading instruction, writing instruction, and study skills. We focus on helping students build a custom toolbox of strategies that promote effective and efficient learning. Our mission is to embolden students to reach their maximum potential and to make learning feel easier and less stressful.
Tell us about yourself
We are speech and language pathologists who met while in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We became great friends and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area shortly after graduating. After a few years of working in both school and clinic-based settings, we decided to join forces to co-found Active Language and Learning. The genesis of our name, and ultimately the mission behind our practice, stemmed from wanting to make learning active, engaging, and meaningful for our clients. Constie has relocated to numerous cities over the past decade and now lives in Seattle with her family; she works virtually while Carolyn remains in the Bay Area.
Early on in our practice, we noticed that many of our students had executive function challenges, specifically in the areas of planning, organization, flexible thinking, working memory, time management, self-monitoring, and self-regulation, yet there were not a lot of resources to address these challenges. In order to better support our students, we co-authored three workbooks on executive function and memory: Executive Functions Training Elementary, No-Glamour Memory Second Edition, and No-Glamour Memory.
Our passion today and every day is to make a difference in the life of each child we help. Watching a student light up when reporting on a classroom success or a personal feat is incredibly rewarding. We want our students to feel empowered, build confidence and become independent learners. We hope that our students will not only feel successful in school but will also develop important life skills such as communicating with teachers or peers, cultivating time management, organization, and study skills, and learning to self-advocate.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As small business owners, our biggest accomplishment is that we have managed to maintain a business and friendship for almost twenty-five years. Our individual strengths are complementary, and we work well as a team. Together we have built a practice, co-authored books, and presented at conferences, all while raising our own children. We are proud of the extensive network of speech and language pathologists, educational therapists, psychologists, and parents we have built. These connections have helped us grow a sizable clientele and lengthy waitlist. We are now in the process of expanding the practice to meet the needs of the community better.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the greatest benefits of being a business owner is that we can grow the business in our chosen direction at our preferred pace. The downside of this is that the responsibility for growth falls on us. We typically agree on direction and pace, and we both work hard. Maintaining our caseloads plus building our practice can be time-consuming and requires a concerted effort to balance our professional and personal lives successfully. Luckily, our executive function skills are strong and allow us to navigate packed schedules nimbly. Having each other helps, too.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Listen to the client. Writing and adhering to goals and lesson plans is an important aspect of service, but being cognizant of client needs at the moment is critical.
- Communicate. We are a service-based private practice, so maintaining open communication with our clients, parents, and other members of the support team is a must.
- Be flexible. Seize opportunities when they present themselves and work hard to see them through. Initially, challenges may appear scary, but perseverance often results in tremendous growth.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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