Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jessica Bruno, founder of House Call Counseling, located in Winston Salem, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
House Call Counseling provides mental health support to adults, teens, children, couples, and families. Services are available in-home, over the phone, via telehealth, or in our office in Winston Salem, NC.
Tell us about yourself
I was working at a hospital in a rehabilitation unit where most of my patients were stroke survivors. When a patient recovered enough to go home, it was common to send in-home physical therapy, in-home occupational therapy, and in-home speech therapy. I asked the treatment team, "why don't we send anyone to support their mental health?" I received odd looks and was told that was not something the hospital offered. That's when I decided to start House Call Counseling.
My goal was to provide quality mental health counseling, the same that clients would receive in an office setting, in the comfort of home. Years later, we'd add telehealth as an option and recruit interns from all over North Carolina who were interested in providing support to people who could not afford a private pay therapist. Last August, we had four interns join, and as of today, all four plan to stay on as contracted therapists post-graduation. By August 2023, we plan to have ten additional interns providing services throughout North Carolina and beyond!
I am motivated because our approach is helping to close the mental health gap of services for so many underserved people, and the more we grow, the more people we can help.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner was my decision to take on team members to work under me. I've never held a management or supervisor position in my life. I did not feel qualified and was quite terrified that my team would not respect me or that I would be a bad boss. Quite the opposite happened! I must be doing something right for everyone to want to stay after graduation!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
As a stereotypical millennial with a master's degree, I have a significant amount of student loan debt. Building a business while in debt is difficult, especially when you bring in less money and have more bills than expected. So far, I've successfully cash-flowed my business, but this has only been possible with great frugality and sacrifice. The silver lining here is that I've learned to build my business extremely lean with very low overhead.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Start today. The time is going to pass anyway, so why not have something started that you can just add to when you have more time? Write down your ideas. Email yourself. Make a list. Whatever you think the first few steps are, just do those.
Once you have your idea, share it! Find a professional group to network with, or consider joining your local chamber of commerce. It is truly amazing how just being around like-minded people can help clarify your vision.
Finally, DO NOT SPEND MONEY TO MAKE MONEY. This is mostly a myth. Some bills are unavoidable, like continuing education and insurance. If I can start a business with a free phone number, shared office space, and recycled office supplies, you can too!
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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