Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sunel Vanderwalt, Owner of Trailhead Pelvic & Visceral Physical Therapy LLC, located in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My pelvic health physical therapy business specializes in disorders that include pelvic pain, bowel, and bladder issues, as well as sexual dysfunction when the muscles and nerves are involved. We also treat other orthopedic issues, especially abdominal scar tissue problems, as they may relate to your pelvic pain or problem. It is a highly specialized niche area of practice. A lot of pelvic health physical therapists focus mainly on women’s health, especially during pregnancy and after birth. At our clinic, we also specialize in helping men, children, and teens. We use games, balloons, and storybooks to help kids deal with issues such as bedwetting or when they are being bullied at school due to a leaking problem. It is such joy to observe a child realizing that their “problem” is not due to something they did wrong and that there are strategies to make the issue go away or get better.
Tell us about yourself
I have been blessed to have had a wonderful career being a physical therapist for over 25 years, working in a variety of settings. I only learned about pelvic floor issues when I started having my own problems. I discovered a whole new world out there where people suffer a lot, to the point of some not wanting to leave their homes because they are in such pain or because their problems may be socially embarrassing to them. This is a field where very few people get the help they deserve and where problems could have been prevented were they educated correctly earlier in their lives. The internet is full of conflicting information, and people reach out to social media support groups for help. Going through the process myself with my own health problems, I discovered that just minimal education could make a big difference in the quality of people’s lives. I feel it is now my calling to help people with pelvic health problems.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment was to open my business in my mid 50’s. This is a time where many people feel like they want to slow down, but I felt like it was my chance for a last hurrah. I want to continue with this work into my retirement years if I am able. The business is set up to see patients in the clinic as well as through telehealth for those who are unable to find a pelvic health therapist close to them.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I have a cash-based clinic which means we typically do not have a solid referral base from physicians. This means I had to learn how to utilize social media and creative marketing strategies to advertise my services. The good thing about this is that we are able to get the word out that pelvic health physical therapy is an available service. The subject matter may be embarrassing, so I have to find creative ways to encourage people to find help for issues they really do not want to talk about. One of the challenges that I am passionate about is encouraging men to seek help. Research has shown that men are more reluctant to seek out help for themselves.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Think long-term and out of the box. Articulate the end result of your dream clearly and then break it down into little bits and work towards that big goal. It is amazing how wishes come true when you know where you are heading.
- As far as social media goes, don’t be afraid to be bold. You will have to put videos, pictures, and photos of yourself on the World Wide Web. It is for the business and the people you want to help, not about you.
- Appreciate and enjoy the entire process from the beginning, and remember, you are never too old to try anything.
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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