Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Joanna "Joey" Harrington, Owner and Director of Behavior Resources, Inc., located in Davis, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Behavior Resources is an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) company that provides services to clients in Yolo County and a few under-serviced, rural counties north of Yolo. Our customer is a child 2-12 who has an autism spectrum diagnosis from their primary care physician and whose family has access to an in-network health insurance provider, so they have no out-of-pocket expense for our services.
Tell us about yourself
I have always wanted to help people, have a knack for effective communication, and am naturally empathetic to the human condition. Since 2004, I have aspired to become the director of my own agency as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) so I could improve the lives of as many families as possible. Over the course of my career, I have worked for no fewer than five agencies that provide similar services and have learned a lot about this business and my therapeutic philosophy from each, so I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given.
In 2017, after the birth of my son, I found the confidence to start my agency, Behavior Resources. I find motivation every day through the achievements of my clients (and their parents!) since I recognize that each represents the potential for an improved life experience for all involved. I am also motivated to develop the next generation of therapists who can help our clients reach their next milestones and who may, one day, also find the confidence to pursue a career as a Behavior Analyst.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Considering that the COVID-19 pandemic upended many long-established businesses and that providing healthcare services became an almost oppressively difficult and complicated endeavor, I am particularly proud of the fact that my fledgling agency was able to weather the storm and come out the other side, arguably greater than ever. I am also proud to announce that Behavior Resources has opened its first office space in the last couple of months which will serve to facilitate client therapy services and provide my employees with a “base” to develop our skills and create the materials we need during our in-home client sessions.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
There are many unforeseen realities foisted upon business owners, but in my field, perhaps one of the most difficult aspects is overcoming the complications of billing insurance companies for services rendered. The process is somewhat understandable, but it’s not unlike a dance where each partner knows what to expect from the other. There is nothing quite like the feeling one gets when a service is provided at an agreed-upon rate with a third party, only to be denied payment due to a technicality. It’s not the fault of the family who received those services, nor do we want to discontinue providing them. It’s just that often, there is no easy recourse to resolve the issue, and we work so hard to provide a fantastic service; it doesn’t seem fair.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find a way to add value to your community. It’s the quickest way to find happiness in the work you do.
- There is no such thing as a setback. You have to be prepared to constantly reframe your reality in order to find the positive “lesson” or “experience.”
- Find a support system. While it’s nice not to have to report to anyone else, it can be lonely running an agency on your own. A strong support system can provide perspective and can give you the motivation you need to continue the mission.
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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