Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andy Sears, owner of Blue Boat Counseling, located in Worthington, OH, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a growing counseling practice based in the Columbus, Ohio, area, and we have a team of mental health therapists who are committed to helping our clients feel better and get their lives back. The tagline for our practice is “Be you.” because living a life of authenticity and being who you really are and are meant to be is the ultimate goal.

Tell us about yourself

I truly believe I was meant to be a therapist. Helping people find their true selves is my passion. I had a path of working in community mental health, group practice, and as a solo practitioner in my own private practice for five years before expanding into a group practice. Being a therapist is hard, taxing work, and based on my experiences with feeling and seeing the burnout in my colleagues, I knew there must be a better way.

So when we opened Blue Boat Counseling, the idea was to provide elite clinical care from highly trained therapists in an office space that felt better than the rest, a boutique-style therapy practice that could not only provide top-notch services but could also take great care of our clinicians so they could do their best work.

So much hard work goes into running any business, and ours is no different. But I’m motivated every day seeing this model come together with clients getting the dedicated help they need and clinicians feeling like they’ve got enough to give, not only to their clients but to themselves and their families. I’m excited to continue this journey to help more people, both clients, and therapists, in our community.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Expanding from a solo practice to a group practice to be able to help more people is definitely one thing. The other, which we weren't expecting to happen in such a big way, was how we not only change the lives of our clients but also the lives of our clinicians. We only hire people who share the same devotion to clients, and our model allows us to pay them well and make the work environment unique and special.

Clinicians have a flexible schedule and are mostly given clients with issues in areas they are passionate about. This, for the therapist, is motivating and lets them really flex their therapeutic muscles. They aren't overworked, have time for life balance, and in turn, are the best therapists they can be. Having a therapist tell us that we “changed her life” will always be one of my greatest accomplishments.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

It’s really hard to think of one thing! Many of us who decide to start businesses don’t necessarily have degrees or training in what it takes to run them, so when you’re in that situation, there’s a steep learning curve on so many aspects of business ownership. That has been one of the hardest things - finding the right resources and learning and implementing so much as we build and grow while maintaining the level of care we want to provide to clients in our community.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Create Mission and Vision statements and define your company’s core values. This may seem like fluff or an unnecessary starting point, but they truly serve as a reference point for everything you do in your business - your marketing messaging, who you hire, and the clients you attract. When everything and everyone are aligned under a common umbrella, things run so much smoother.
  2. Build an awesome website. If you don’t know how, hire someone to build it for you. This is not an area to skimp. The power of a beautiful website representing you and your business is unmatched in any other marketing tool.
  3. Use consultants. There are very smart people sprinkled all over the country doing what you’re trying to do. Find them, and talk!
  4. Read lots of books! These can be free or inexpensive resources that are so valuable to business ownership.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Business ownership is definitely not for everyone. It’s hard work with so many unknowns. But it can also be so rewarding and provide more freedom in your life than you ever imagined, so don’t give up!

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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