Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jenna Bender, Owner of Eye Care For You, located in Orleans, ON, Canada.

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

Eye Care for You is a full-service vision care provider. We are a family-friendly local clinic that has been serving the Orleans community for over 35 years. Dr. Kwasnick first opened her practice after graduation and has established a comfortable environment with a large patient family that is now a staple in the community. I took over the practice in 2018 and have brought a new look to the practice our patients have come to know and love. The space has been expanded and modernized to better serve our clientele.

Eye Care For You doctors take the time to personalize each eye exam and are reputed to be thorough in their examinations. We are also a dispensing practice, fitting and selling contact lenses as well as glasses. We accept new patients, emergencies, direct billing from most insurance companies, and provide services in English and in French. We are open Thursday evenings and Saturdays for patient convenience.

Tell us about yourself

Growing up in Orleans, I was a regular patient of Dr. Kwasnick's. I knew I wanted a career where I could help people, and optometry suited my patient-first approach nicely. So it only seemed natural that after graduating from l'Université de Montréal in 2010, I would return to Orléans, first as an associate and then as the owner of Eye Care for You.

Since then, I've been proud to offer my services to the community and love being able to see my patients grow throughout the years. During my studies, I participated in a humanitarian mission in Morocco, and an internship in Florida, where my patients were mostly retirees. I used that experience to visit retirement homes during my first few years in practice, where I offered eye exams to the residents.

My patients often compliment me on my thorough examinations and my attentiveness and dedication to them. I am grateful for the loyalty and trust that they place in me and am thus dedicated to providing the best care possible.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I knew when I decided to take over my colleague's practice that I would want to expand and modernize it. The clinic hadn't changed since it opened in the 1980s, and we had outgrown the space. I also wanted to bring in additional staff and empower them with new roles and responsibilities.

My priorities for the renovations were to create a space where staff would be happy to come to work and patients would feel comfortable. It was also important to invest in new modern equipment and a friendly website to ensure we continue to provide eye exams with the latest technology. We also went paperless. Digitizing all our patient files and records took a few years, but it was well worth it to free up space and bring the clinic into the 21st century.

I purchased and renovated the clinic just prior to going on maternity leave, and then the pandemic hit. Guiding a new business and training staff through these times was a challenge, but I'm proud of the adaptability I've developed. I know Eye Care For You and our patients are better now for it.

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

When starting a business, there are so many hoops to jump through and accounts to manage that most of us haven't studied or trained for. In many cases, we don't even know where to look to find the resources needed to help. I found that surrounding myself with a network of local business owners, talking to colleagues, and CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses) was a big help in navigating through those first few months.

Another one of the hardest things is never truly being able to let go. Even when you're not at the office, you can still be called upon if there's an issue at the clinic or if staff can't come to work that day. So learning how to best disconnect is key to keeping a work-life balance.

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

It's difficult to narrow it to three, but I would say number one is to make sure you have a strong support group or network outside of work. There will be many ups and downs, and having someone to lean on, offer advice and help out can make a huge difference.

Number two would be to invest in your staff. They are the face of your business, and making them happy can go a long way! So don't be afraid to ask for criticism from them or advice on how to improve the business. They are in the trenches for you all day long and can offer some great insights or different perspectives that can help keep your business competitive.

And last but not least, remember that you have a life outside of your business. It can be overwhelming, especially those first few months or years, but remember that taking time for yourself, family and friends can go a long way to keeping you refreshed and focused.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Even though it's a big step with much investment in time and money, running a business the way you envision it can be so rewarding and makes you that much happier coming to work every day. Seeing the positive responses from staff and patients for all of that hard work is worth everything.

Where can people find you and your business?

Website: https://orleansoptometry.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/orleansoptometry
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenna-bender-634530174/


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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