Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Eimi Mejia Gretel Diaz, Co-Founder of Cornerstone Behavioral Analysis, located in Miami, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We provide ABA Therapy (applied behavior analysis) for children with developmental disabilities - mostly children with Autism, ADHD, ADD, Down Syndrome, etc. We also provide homeschooling services using ABA teaching methods.
Tell us about yourself
My partner and I decided it was time to start our own agency back in 2019 when we said enough is enough. We were constantly seeing that quality services were lacking across local ABA agencies - some of them being in business for decades. Providing nothing but excellent services for our clients is a given, but our focus has always been on our clinicians. We believe we are a team, and the treatment our clients receive will only be as good as our team is. We put an emphasis on the relationship without clinicians and making sure everything is individualized to them - from professional development training to reinforcements we provide for their hard work. We want to make sure that our clinicians see the value in working for Cornerstone values and care they do not encounter at our competitors.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This one is a hard one since we are only reaching three years into building our business. One of the biggest accomplishments would be achieving preliminary accreditation with BHCOE (Behavior Health Center Of Excellence) this year. We are categorized as preliminary due to the size of our company (client and staff number), but this was a big accomplishment. The accreditation process normally takes about 150 days, as we were told at the beginning, but we were able to complete this in 101 days which goes on to demonstrate that we already had high standards for our company prior to accreditation and just needed a few more additions and modifications.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things is making sure our clinician's needs are being met. There is such a high turnover within the field, and we are no exception from this fact. Balancing the day-to-day business and making sure our clinicians are satisfied with where they work is the priority.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Always remember the "why" you decided to take the step forward in faith. Starting a business is never guaranteed, and it is not financially easy. There are a lot of ups and downs, but in the end, if you remember the "why," have high but reasonable standards from the beginning and adhere to the standards without compromise; even in the tough times, it'll work out eventually.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Cornerstone has been in operation for three years now, but my partner and I have been in the field since 2013 (Gretel) and 2015 (Eimi). We've seen the ins and out of how the businesses are being run in various companies, and we've worked both on the administrative side and the clinical side of this field. With that said, I have to say we are not just company owners, but we are clinicians ourselves, and that makes us relatable to those working within the field. We know the struggle (believe me, I used to get paid $9.50/hr when I started), we didn't get paid during supervised hours, and typically there are minimal incentives, all the while feeling dispensable and just a number. We see our staff, and we see our clients. We actively make it a point to be involved without the client's treatment as well as our clinician's development.
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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