Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alise McAllister, Founder and Director of Seattle Doulas, located in Seattle, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Seattle Doulas is a team of experienced postpartum doulas who support families in the early weeks after their baby is born. When new parents are exhausted, anxious, and overwhelmed, we help them thrive, not just survive. Rather than searching Google for the answers or parenting while half asleep, our team shows up with solutions, answers, and judgment-free support. With both daytime and overnight support available, we cover everything from hands-on education to feeding support, including all-night baby care so parents can sleep. Our mission is to build confident families by providing a team of experts to be by their side.
Tell us about yourself
I often call myself an accidental entrepreneur. I worked solo or in a partnership for years as a doula until the pandemic hit. As travel restrictions impacted plans new families had for their postpartum support, the need for postpartum doulas grew rapidly. To meet the demand, I pivoted to grow a team and learned quickly how to expand. Today, I have a wonderful team of amazing doulas. I think I always knew I wanted to expand but never imagined it would be a possibility. I am motivated every day to provide a really great career opportunity where team members know they are appreciated, can have fun, and feel supported. Of course, knowing that we bring confidence and support to brand new parents is pretty motivating too.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Seattle Doulas is, as far as I am aware, the very first doula company to ever offer medical benefits or paid sick leave. We have created a model that allows doulas, who are typically self-employed contractors, to be employed. With this foundation, we can provide a weekly schedule, mentorship, ongoing education, and consistent full or part-time employment. That means that incredible doulas can do what they love without having to build an entire business first. Creating a model that is the first of its kind in this industry feels like a huge accomplishment. Just a few years ago, when I first thought about hiring and expanding, I often heard, “that isn’t possible” or “it doesn’t work that way for doulas.” Knowing that I turned the “impossible” into a thriving reality not only feels like my greatest accomplishment but also my fuel to get through anything ahead.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest parts about business ownership for me has been the constant need to learn new roles. One day I am learning about accounting and taxes, the next, I am learning about marketing or creating a website. Sometimes I wake up at 4 am with a flood of ideas and a to-do list. While it has been incredibly challenging to feel like I’ll never know it all, I really do love the challenge that comes with it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be brave enough to think outside the box. Just because it has never been done another way or others haven’t had success doesn’t mean you can’t.
- Be open to learning constantly. The world is full of information, so dig in! Never decide you can’t learn how to do something, while also seeing where it makes more sense to get help. You can do anything. You just can’t do it all!
- Create office hours. It’s so easy to eat, think and breathe your new business and there will be days when you don’t have a choice. When you do, put work down, be present with friends and family, and do things that fill you up again. Take a vacation without apologizing. The to-do list will always be long, so learn to know when you can step away and when you have to put in overtime.
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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