Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sharhonda Ford, Founder of Beyond the Mask Trauma and Wellness, located in Charlotte, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is multifaceted. I own a group therapy practice as well as a consulting and coaching firm. My group practice is a teaching center for therapists who desire to grow in the field of cultural competence and serve individuals from marginalized communities. My practice serves marginalized individuals with trauma and other mental health challenges, specifically African Americans and Christians.
Within my coaching and consulting business, I coach mental health professionals who are interested in launching a private practice, as well as churches who are interested in learning how to incorporate mental health programs in their church by integrating faith and mental health. I am an author, coach, and speaker serving clients domestically and internationally.
Tell us about yourself
As an African American female who endured childhood trauma and abuse, I began counseling at eight years old and experienced poor therapeutic experiences throughout my life. In addition, my therapists typically provided a prescription and never offered support or treatment for my problem. After spending 20-plus years in HR and Management, I felt the need to help and serve. I was tired of not having the support I needed. I was tired of having to enlist non-BIPOC people as therapists. I was saddened by the stories of my peers and others that shared their experiences of not being able to identify or find Mental Health Support in the African American Community. I was tired of hearing people speak from a marginalized perspective and being labeled without the suggestion of healing. I was tired of the marginalization of the church in the community for using faith as the premise. It was clear to me one day in 2012 that I needed to be a part of the change I wanted to see. It was clear to me that people needed the experience I dreamed of. I am a first-generation trauma disrupter and business owner. I employ individuals who desire to serve marginalized communities, and I desire to educate and equip them to do so with freedom and excellence. I am my WHY? My mental health is important. I Matter. My life Matters. My story Matters. I am committed to teaching women around the world the power to heal from their trauma and live beyond the mask. I show up every day with the goal to change the lives of women who suffer in silence and/or don't feel heard, one session and one interaction at a time.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with life as a business owner is difficulty being content with the level of success without rushing to the next level while ensuring a "LIFE/WORK" balance. Many small business owners I coach set goals they reach sooner than expected. When goals are achieved, I encourage them to go bigger and dig deeper, just as I do myself. I encourage this without compromising on family and life. I encourage my employees to do the same. It's a great challenge to rest when you see the potential to serve more and live out your purpose in an even larger way. I am learning to enjoy the levels of success and rest in between. Life/Work balance is the most beneficial thing you can embrace as a business owner. Work should NEVER be first, as enjoying the fruits of your labor with those you love is the biggest part of a purpose.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with being a business owner is the difficulty of being content with the level of success without rushing to the next level. I find many small business owners I coach to set goals they do not believe they will accomplish. You know, the big dream concept. I push myself as well as they do. When goals are achieved, I encourage them to go bigger and dig deeper, just as I do myself. In my own business, I realize the goal continues to move as I accomplish different things. I push my clients to do the same. It's a great challenge to rest when you see the potential to serve more and live out your purpose in an even larger way when you have the means. I am learning to enjoy the levels of success and rest in between. Life/Work balance is the most beneficial thing you can embrace as a business owner. Work should NEVER be first.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Incorporate my Mantra FADE: Faith - Automate - Delegate - Eliminate.
My faith is THE essential component of my success, and it helps me not become paralyzed by my failures. Automating systems in your business prevents you from repeating tasks and spending time doing things that can be done repeatedly without you. System automation is critical to time management, and effective time management yield revenue. Delegation is something many new business owners are hesitant to do. There is someone trained to do things that do not require you or are not in your scope of genius. Believing "you're the only one that can do it" is a business killer and limits your potential to focus on revenue-generating tasks in your business. Let it go! Eliminating toxic thoughts and patterns of behavior that do not help you grow. Self-defeating statements, "stinking thinking," and negative cognitions prevent you from believing in yourself. Being intentional about eliminating things and people that do not serve you positions you for successful thinking and actions.
- Do not look to your left or right to view what others are doing. Know your path is specific to your purpose. Comparing your journey to someone else may distract you from doing what you do well. Focus on doing your purpose and plan and work on it. Obstacles will come, but you were created to win. Stay focused and in the game. The victory is waiting ahead. Keep going.
- Don't negate the power of the pivot. When you feel you have done everything you can with no success, Pivot. Pause – Investigate – Veer - Observe – Transform.
a. Pause what you are doing.
b. Investigate what isn't working versus what is.
c. Observe where your levels of success are and your areas of opportunity.
d. Transform the business that was not serving you to the business that will. There is POWER in the PIVOT!
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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