Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Cathy Sullivan-Windt, Owner of New Connections Counseling Center, located in Baltimore, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
New Connections Counseling Center is a dynamic, multidisciplinary group of experienced and socially conscious therapists. We provide high-quality therapy for adults and adolescents in a comfortable atmosphere in Baltimore.
Tell us about yourself
I became a therapist because of my natural curiosity to understand. After traveling extensively in my young adulthood, I recognized that, in large part, what I was seeking was a connection with people different from me. I chose psychology because I enjoy connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and beliefs, hearing their stories, tuning into their emotions, and understanding who they are and who they hope to be. I never pictured myself as an entrepreneur. After a decade of working in hospitals, clinics, and university counseling centers, I chose to go out on my own so that I could have the flexibility and income I needed when starting a family. After several years, I realized that in addition to these life priorities, I also craved community. In 2019 I expanded into a group practice and started hiring admin staff and other therapists. It has been wonderful - I now have other therapists to consult, more stimulation, new roles and challenges, and others to collaborate with on vision. In addition to my clinical work, my days now involve a host of other roles -- supervising, managing, mentoring, training new therapists, marketing, and financial management. It has diversified what I do while staying in my wheelhouse, and I appreciate the new challenges at this point in my career.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I feel proud of the incredible team I have put together. We have a bunch of warm, compassionate, smart, socially conscious, and fun people on our team. I am proud that our practice acknowledges the impact that culture, politics, and oppression have on mental health, and we believe in giving back to the local Baltimore community. We offer a number of free assessments for letters of support around gender affirmation care each year. Additionally, our interns provide exceptional low-cost services for in-person and telehealth counseling. I try to be good to my team and believe that when I take care of them, they take better care of the clients with whom they work.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest thing about being a business owner is accepting the things I can't control. For example, summer tends to be a slower time in the therapy world, and I can't always keep my therapists as full as they want to be in July and August. Of course, I can further develop my marketing strategy, but sometimes, I also have to just accept that people are busy vacationing and not in a spot where they are wanting to come in for therapy appointments.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't try to do it all on your own. Outsource. Hire people to help you. Often it pays to hire an expert because the job will get done faster and better than you could ever do it yourself. And then you can preserve your energy for the roles you enjoy.
- Trust your gut and hire people with integrity.
- Join a consultation group and learn how others in your role/field are navigating similar challenges.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
When I describe what I do, I like the phrase "caring with boundaries." It is imperative that we all set boundaries so that we can take care of ourselves. Assuming those boundaries are in place, I find that generally, when you care for others, they are caring in return. This caring sets a strong foundation for a great workplace and therapy practice.
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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