Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Reina Lombardi, Founder of Florida Art Therapy Services, LLC., located in Fort Myers, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a small group private mental health practice in Fort Myers, Florida. We specialize in using creative and experiential-based treatment approaches both online and in-person. Additionally, we are a Florida Board Approved continuing education provider and provide training to other mental health professionals to keep up with their licensure requirements. We serve individuals in-person in the Lee, Collier, and Charlotte county areas and offer telehealth services to individuals throughout the state of Florida.
Tell us about yourself
I have always been passionate about the arts and expression as means of understanding oneself. This put me on a path to learn about the field of Art Therapy specifically and opened doors to many other experiential approaches to mental health and wellness. I decided to create a practice because I wanted to have greater autonomy in how I practiced and supported people. I also wanted to have a greater sense of control over my earning potential and how much time I could take off in a year. The current model of 10 days off per year is insulting and, I believe, unhealthy.
Since opening, I quickly began to grow and expand my business. I took other therapists under my wing and added them as providers within my practice. I am motivated by the impact we create for others and also to improve and do better each day, week, month, and year. I am always asking the question, "What can I do differently to be more effective and efficient?"
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is learning to become comfortable with the ever-changing needs and demands of the business and not to allow fears to dictate my response to change. I think this was a huge lesson learned in response to the shutdown during COVID. Learning to remain calm and respond thoughtfully versus reacting emotionally during times when there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty and chaos feels like a significant accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for me is knowing that I am responsible for everything. If something works - I am responsible. When something doesn't work, I am equally responsible. This is especially true when you have other people working for you and you are in the role of being a leader. I take that responsibility very seriously.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your market research. Are you in an area that can sustain your business? Is there a real need?
- If you don't feel comfortable being visible or speaking out in public about what you do - take some training on public speaking and marketing. This is essential. You have to learn to feel comfortable speaking out about what you offer.
- Know that there are many coaches and consultants out there to help you through the process. Working with one can help you avoid pitfalls and reduce costly errors as you start or even during growth periods. You don't have to know everything, but you do need to know where to go to get the information and support you need.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
As a therapist, I always advocate for doing your own personal development work no matter what. As new business owners, people come up against themselves and things they thought they may have worked through and resolved. Being a business owner challenges our mental and emotional well-being in ways that being an employee doesn't. If you need support, there are people out there who love to work with entrepreneurs to overcome mindset blocks that might come up as a result of pushing out into unchartered territory.
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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