Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Christen Sistrunk, Co-Founder of Houston Center for Valued Living, located in Houston, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is The Houston Center for Valued Living, a growing psychotherapy practice in Houston, Texas, serving individuals of all ages, from toddler to geriatric years! We have therapists who provide a variety of specialized counseling. We serve individuals with anxiety disorders, OCD, depression, insomnia, trauma/ PTSD, and life transitions.
Tell us about yourself
To be honest, our business started over fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas in a small Tiki Bar in Houston. I was out with one of my classmates with whom I went to graduate school. She also happened to be one of my best friends. At the time, we were only fantasizing about how we could possibly start up a practice together. She had a small baby. I had a young child. We were both working for psychotherapy institutions at the time, which paid us low wages to work long hours. We hated having no control over our schedule and felt like we were missing out on our lives. We didn't feel aligned with our values of what mattered most to us. We loved being therapists, but our lives felt unbalanced. Finally, push came to shove in 2015 when I could no longer work 40+ hours per week due to the more important needs of my family. I took the plunge, left my agency job, and went into business for myself, working Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
It was one of the scariest times of my life. Would I sink or swim? Thankfully, I swam. And I picked up speed. Soon, my friend and business partner joined me. We decided to start the venture of a group practice so that we could provide the same experience for others who wanted a taste of flexibility.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Providing flexibility and quality of life for those who work for us, especially women with families who struggle to find the ideal work/life balance. We feel that we give the ability for the individuals who work with us to work with their ideal clients, choose their hours, choose how they practice therapeutically, and foster training, education, and growth. This goes for me too - I enjoy these benefits as well. I remember a time when I didn't think it could be possible to do what I loved, earn enough money, and have time for myself/my family.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Letting go of control and knowing when to hire assistance vs. doing it yourself. Owning a business is great, and there is a lot to do on a daily basis. Working with a great friend and a fantastic business partner has helped a lot. We are both good at different things. It can be emotionally and mentally hard to spend precious income on hiring a stranger too.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Spend the money upfront to hire a business coach who knows the ropes. Otherwise, you will spend valuable hours of your time relearning how to make the wheel when someone could have helped you figure it out much faster. Time is money in business, and investing yourself in the front end will help you make less mistakes.
- Practice self-compassion. You're going to make mistakes in business, and that is okay.
- Network. As a therapist, I am not a natural marketing person. However, getting to know others in your industry can only help you.
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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