Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maya Borgueta, Founder of Stella Nova Psychology, Inc., located in San Francisco, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Stella Nova Psychology is a San Francisco-based clinic that supports the mental health needs of women and nonbinary professionals. We offer therapy for adults, couples, and groups here in SF and online throughout California. We have a special focus on serving Women of Color, and many of our clients are BIPOC 1st or 2nd generation immigrants or people who are the first in their families to have attended college or worked in a professional role. Many of our clients are also members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Tell us about yourself
Growing up, therapy wasn't something that anyone in my family talked about or considered. The attitude was very much that therapy is something for people who have serious mental problems—not people like us. My father's side of the family is Filipino, and I remember him telling me that "Filipinos don't go do therapy." (Spoiler alert: we do!) When I got to college, it was an eye-opener for me in terms of having my own first experience in therapy, and I had some fantastic classes that introduced me not just to academic psychology but to the mental health field. That's what set me on my path as a therapist.
I never imagined myself becoming a business owner, but it's been really liberating to open my own practice. I started off running a private practice with just a few clients on the side while I was working full-time at a mental health tech company. It was never meant to become a full-time endeavor, much less a group practice! But that company wasn't doing well, and I got laid off (it eventually went under). And I was faced with the choice of going into business full-time for myself or finding another job. I decided to take the leap!
I transitioned from a solo therapist to opening a group practice for a few reasons. First, I found I really missed having a team to collaborate and share with. So I knew I needed to find a community to work with again. Second, I realized I actually enjoyed the business side of things! Learning marketing, systems, recruiting, leadership skills, and having variety in my work day has been so great for me to stay motivated and engaged in my business. And lastly, I knew that starting a group practice would allow me to have a bigger impact on our clients than I could ever have on my own.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am by far the proudest of the excellent team of clinicians we've put together. When we hire someone, we are really looking for something who is not just a great therapist but someone who is genuinely invested in our core values: feminism, mental health, science, community, and employee wellness. Being very selective about our mission and values alignment has resulted in a truly special group of people to work with. And the feedback from our clients has let us know that we're on the right track—that Stella Nova is a place where our clients feel seen and valued for who they are and all their identities. And that they're getting great care.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It can be lonely sometimes! It's been really important for me to connect with other group practice owners and small business owners to have that sense of community. Having employees is a huge responsibility, and I take my responsibilities to them seriously, so the ups and downs of a small business can be stressful.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
It's all about people and relationships. Find peers who are also small business owners who will offer mutual support. Find mentors who you can look to for good advice and who can help you figure out your blind spots. And be very mindful of hiring people who have great skills and are great people who share your company's mission & values.
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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