Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sabrina Ragan, Founder and Director of Keystone Child and Family Therapy, located in Fort McMurray, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a child psychologist and a certified play therapist based in Alberta. I am also the founder and director of Keystone Child and Family Therapy, established in 2011. Counseling services are primarily online through Zoom and are a combination of play and art therapy. In 2018 I moved my services online to reach residents across the province of Alberta, especially those in remote areas who wouldn't otherwise have access to counseling.
I choose to prioritize play and art over other forms of counseling for children since they learn about the world, process emotions, and develop social skills through play. Play therapy is a form of self-expression for children that comes naturally to them. It allows kids to work through their thoughts and feelings in a way that's familiar and comfortable for them, without the same developmental limitations or defense mechanisms as adults.
My clients are primarily children between the ages of 2- 18 who have experienced a variety of challenges in their young life, such as anxiety, self-esteem, anger, stress management, adjustment to life changes, abuse, and trauma. I've also started a sister company, The Parents Connection. Through this site, parents can access online courses that are affordably priced and backed by science. The courses we offer include a 7-Day Peaceful Family Challenge, simple strategies to help parents boost their child's self-esteem, and a course for parents who want to increase their own self-care and minimize overwhelm.
Tell us about yourself
I was fortunate enough to work in a family counseling agency that doubled as an international play therapy training institution after I graduated with my Master's. I found my passion for play therapy, attachment relationships, and neuroscientific parenting while I was here. I worked under a couple of the most brilliant minds in child psychology. I loved it in this office. I was super comfortable, and likely, if I didn't move communities, I would have continued to work in this office and not started my own business.
However, I rapidly moved out of my comfort zone when I moved with my husband to a remote community that had very few services. It was here that I had only two options: not work or start my own business to provide services to the area. Not working was not an option. I loved helping children and their families journey and grow through challenging experiences. So this prompted me to start my own business, and it has been the most amazing journey since.
What motivates me each day is seeing the tremendous strength and resilience I see in children and their families. I love empowering parents with tools that work and helping them understand why. I love seeing families fall deeper in love with each other and how parenting gets easier and easier each day. I love how parents can feel so lost and then find their own way to trust themselves with their child's healing. My clients are what inspire, motivate, and challenge me to keep growing. My clients are also what motivated me to start creating online courses. Working online allows me to reach more families and more children that need my help locally, nationally, and internationally. I love being able to connect with people all over the world who have a passion for helping children through healing play.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest challenge as a business owner was learning the ins and outs of running a business. I had a passion for learning everything I could about child development, family dynamics, attachment, and neuroscience. And I was skilled at counseling and helping families find positive change. But learning everything it took to make a business successful was super overwhelming. I had to learn about marketing, accounting, and legal issues. I couldn't just focus on my counseling skills because that alone wouldn't make the business successful. I feel my biggest accomplishment was being able to learn and manage all these extra hats to run a successful business.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for me with being a business owner was learning to turn my brain off at the end of the day. Going from working for someone else to being a business owner meant that I was responsible for making the business run, and it was up to me whether it was successful or not. And so because of this, I was not only constantly thinking about my clients and way to help them, but I was also thinking about ways to make the business more successful. It was hard just to leave everything at the office and be fully present at home because I was fully responsible for everything. It took me years to figure out how to set boundaries between my clients, the life of the business, and my family. Even now, I find it tough at times, but having these lines drawn is essential for the sake of everyone's well-being.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Find a good team to work alongside you. Find an accountant, bookkeeper, lawyer, marketing expert, and anyone else you need on your team. You can't be an expert at everything, so find an expert to be on your team.
Never give up. Starting a business can be tough, and it may take some time before you start to see any results. Keep pushing forward, and don't give up when you have obstacles or setbacks. Take advantage of all the resources available to you. There are many free online resources for entrepreneurs that can help you get started and stay on track throughout your business.
Never stop learning and growing in your field and running a business. The more you know, the better positioned you will be to succeed. Whether it's taking a course online or reading a book, always be looking for opportunities to learn and grow. With these top tips in mind, anyone can successfully start their own business! If you are willing to work hard and stay focused, you can achieve great success at anything you put your mind to!
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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