Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Eileen Bona, Owner, and CEO of Dreamcatcher™ Nature-Assisted Therapy, located in Ardrossan, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I have a psychology practice and tourism business specializing in animal and nature-assisted therapy. My clients are people who have difficulty getting help through traditional therapy methods, and my customers are people who are in need of getting out of the city and into a peaceful, soul-fulfilling natural space.
Tell us about yourself
My partner and I are both city people. He wanted to live in the country, but I could not imagine doing so. At the time, I was flying up north to work with youth with brain injuries. One day, I thought: "If I lived in the country, I could have a horse!" I always wanted a horse. Then I thought about a youth I was working with and imagined her standing next to a horse, and I thought: "what a brilliant idea for a way to motivate those who have trouble attending traditional therapy!" and the idea was born. Each day I am motivated to go to work by my beautiful natural surroundings, my clients, my beloved animals, and my amazing dream team.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I worked alone in my practice for eight years. Now, 19 years later, I have 20 staff and 40 volunteers. I have created a national and international certification in animal-assisted therapy, partnered with a College to provide it alongside doing it independently, have been covered by all types of media, published in many books and magazines, and received several awards for our work. We are now entering the realm of tourism, and it is going quite well.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Finding and maintaining "good fit," highly qualified and dedicated staff.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do something you love. Your passion will give you the motivation to get through the tough times.
- Learn everything you can about the industry you are getting into BEFORE you get into it, and never stop learning.
- Be aware that you don't know what you don't know. Learning to manage people delicately but with healthy boundaries will assist you in managing your staff in ways that they can still teach you even when you think they are not working out. Management skills and humility are the keys to staffing success.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The world is your oyster. If you can dream it, you can do it with hard work, perseverance, healthy coping skills, and kindness.
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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