Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ashley Smith, co-founder of Peak Mind: The Center for Psychological Strength, located in Kansas City, MO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Your mind can be your most valuable asset...or your biggest barrier. You get to choose. Peak Mind is dedicated to bringing information and tools from the field of psychology and applied neuroscience to the mainstream. We believe that optimizing your mental wellbeing is one of the most important things you can do. By building psychological strength, you boost your resilience, mental toughness, and peak performance in all areas of your life.
We work with forward-thinking organizations that recognize that their employees are their most important resource. Our wild hypothesis is that organizations are made up of people. When people thrive, your organization thrives. We help people thrive. We also offer training and resources to individuals who want to take charge of their life experiences and build their psychological strength.
Tell us about yourself
As a clinical psychologist, I have specialized in studying and treating anxiety and related conditions for nearly two decades. I love helping people understand basic brain science and how to apply it in their lives so that they can break free from problematic anxiety and live bold, joyful lives.
A nice side effect of my job is that I have excellent coping skills. A few years ago, though, I found myself at a loss. I have a rare degenerative retinal disease that makes me legally and increasingly blind. I hit a personal low point when I had to stop driving. I was stuck and struggling, so I dove headfirst into the science of happiness and have been able to overcome adversity and thrive despite vision loss.
The combination of my professional expertise and personal experience puts me in a unique position to help others. I am driven by the desire, the passion, to reduce unnecessary human suffering. I want everyone to have the best life experience possible, and I believe wholeheartedly that the key to that is understanding how your mind works so that you can make it work for you.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am most proud of the work we are doing at Peak Mind to transform the way we approach mental healthcare in our society. Historically, people wait until they experience symptoms that interfere with their lives before seeking therapy or medication. What if, instead, we spent just as much effort on education and prevention as we do with physical health? We all know we need to eat leafy greens, exercise, and do preventive/routine medical checkups to stay healthy and stave off illness. What if we did the same with mental health and psychological wellbeing? What if we focused on building our psychological strength so that we are more easily able to ride out life's storms and thrive through adversity? At Peak Mind, we believe that is possible...but it means creating something new.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There are challenges that come with creating something new. It is easier to follow a well-worn path than carve out your own, but it's worth it. It takes courage and a willingness to fail forward - to try something without knowing for sure if it will work, learning from that experience, and persevering. I have also found it particularly challenging to learn important areas of business like marketing. That's not something that was part of my education and training program, so I'm learning as I go.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First and foremost, put effort into building your psychological strength. My business partner (another psychologist, Dr. April Seifert) and I are very open about practicing what we preach...and benefiting tremendously from it. Being able to tolerate uncertainty, having grit, and not letting unhelpful or inaccurate thoughts get in your way is key to being a successful entrepreneur.
Second, network! We are inherently social creatures. Not only does having a strong network buffer us against stress, but others will provide invaluable insights, motivation, instruction, and connections. Don't go it alone, and don't make it harder than it needs to be. Learn from others!
Finally, embrace the idea of iteration. Try something, learn from it, revise, and try again. If you strive for perfection out of the gate, you're going to waste a lot of time, and you might miss the mark completely.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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