Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Erin Gaul, Founder of Your Speech Path, LLC, located in Lower Gwynedd, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a pediatric, private speech pathologist. I own a private practice specializing in a motor disorder, Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). I see a wide array of populations, however. If a child is diagnosed with CAS, there is a particular type of therapy required to make progress, and that's where my expertise lies. I provide Dynamic Temporal and Tactile Cueing (DTTC) based on the principles of motor learning. I also utilize PROMPT (Prompts for restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets. This is a tactile-kinesthetic approach to helping the articulators (jaw, tongue, lips) to form words accurately. This is why families seek me out and come to me specifically.
I'm also knee-deep in another area of specialty: orofacial myofunctional therapy. This is basically examining and retraining the function and/or structure of facial and oral musculature. Disorders range from mouth breathing, low resting tongue posture (did you know your tongue should be resting on the roof of your mouth??), high, narrow palates that impede nasal breathing, pre-and-post frenectomy care, and extended pacifier/digit sucking, speech errors, etc. The list goes on.
Tell us about yourself
I was not looking to open a private practice, but an opportunity unexpectedly presented itself in early 2017, so I walked through it! I started out as a mobile therapist but quickly learned that driving all day and all over two counties was not working out for me. I decided to open an office in the summer of 2018, and it gradually grew into a larger office with an additional speech pathologist to help out after school. Now I'm in my sweet spot. I'm in a great location, with great support from my other SLP, and my families are amazing. They value my work, and in turn, I value them. I find joy in providing specialized services families can't get in the schools or other practices.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is discovering I can be my own boss, accountant, scheduler, receptionist, counselor, etc. I don't have staff to help with the logistics of the practice. I like being the one to talk to incoming families and the small family feel of my practice. I look around my office and think, "Wow, I created this!"
In particular, I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in February of this year, 2022. I had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction in May. I was out for ten weeks and am now back with a full caseload for two months. Recovery is ongoing. There are really hard days, physically and mentally. I'm pushing through, and that makes me very proud. My client's concern and appreciation for what I provide motivate me to keep going. I bring this up because cancer has taught me what I want to do, how much I'm willing to do, and when to say no. And it's OK to say no.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I find it challenging when days pop up that really require me to wear all hats at the same time. When I see the voicemail light on, the floor needing to be vacuumed, sessions to be set up for, tools to be sanitized, all I want is someone to help! It can be tough when I have a challenging case and don't have another SLP with me during the day to bounce ideas off of. Luckily, I have a lot of great SLP friends I can reach out to at any time!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be ready to say no. You can't help everyone; sometimes, you must put yourself first.
- Be comfortable putting yourself out there (your name and your face). "If you build it, they will come" is not always true.
- Have a niche. Know exactly what you're good at and why the consumer would come to YOU vs. another business.
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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