Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michelle Grasek, Owner of Seneca Falls Acupuncture, located in Seneca Falls, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a cosmetic acupuncturist in a small town in Upstate New York. I also treat a lot of patients for digestive issues, anxiety, and pain management. My patients are mostly women looking to manage their healthcare without extra medication when possible and those who are interested in having fresh, young-looking skin without injections. Acupuncture is part of Chinese medicine, which at its heart is about overall health and is the foundation for really glowing skin. So in skincare treatments, we address not only the exterior (the skin itself) but also diet, lifestyle, and how all the patient's internal organ systems are functioning together to create optimal health.
Tell us about yourself
I was pre-med in undergrad, trying to decide whether I should study for the MCAT like most of my classmates when my grandmother had a mild stroke. She was very lucky in that her symptoms afterward were minimal, but she was having a hard time using her left hand and with balance. My aunt took her for acupuncture for about eight weeks, and she regained her full range of motion and strength in her hand, as well as improved balance. This meant she was able to live independently again, which meant a lot to her. After that, I was sold. I didn't think becoming an MD and prescribing medication was a great fit for me to begin with, and after this experience, I understood the power of acupuncture to really change people's lives. I quit my pre-med path, decided to study abroad in England and get an English minor, and applied for acupuncture school the year after that. In my first year after acupuncture school, I took my first of 4 cosmetic acupuncture classes, and I was hooked. I already loved Chinese medicine's holistic view of the body, and the idea that radiant skin is at least partially dependent on genuine good health really resonated with me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Last year I hired my first employee, a receptionist, and this year I'm getting ready to hire an associate acupuncturist to help treat patients as the clinic continues to grow. Entering acupuncture school, I never really considered myself the "entrepreneur type," but now I do, and I'm amazed at how much I've grown personally and professionally over the years. Being an entrepreneur challenges you in a lot of ways, and I've come to love that.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I think being willing to be challenged and step into new roles can be tough! Every time you master one new skill or take a leap of faith in your business, there's something else on the horizon that asks you to have better boundaries and/or be the best version of yourself. This isn't a bad thing, but it requires constant reassessment and the decision to keep moving forward into the (relatively) unknown.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Ask for help from the beginning. Find a mentor or a business group to join. No matter what kind of business you're planning to build, there is always someone with expertise who can help you. Whether it's in your industry or not, there are fellow business owners who know how to hire, market, and scale effectively. There's no reason to think you have to do it alone.
- Get comfortable with marketing. Remember that you have something useful and helpful for other people. And you can't serve them if you don't tell them about it. That's all marketing is.
- Make friends with other small business owners locally. It's great to have a support network of people with similar goals, and it's wonderful to work together with them when you can to feel like you're supporting your mutual community.
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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