How One Mompreneur Started Her Own Therapy Practice

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Name: Lindsay Gayle

Business: City Circle Counseling

Location: Indianapolis, IN

Lindsay Gayle chartered her professional course conscious of the family she was building. During her three year journey to conceive her first child, Lindsay recognized her agency-based therapy position would not allow her to both work and provide primary care to her future children. This realization set her on slow and steady transition to her opening a private practice. 

Today, Lindsay is the owner and primary therapist at City Circle Counseling, based in Indianapolis. She provides therapy to children ages three through 12 and incorporates a lot of play in her sessions. 


The Business Details

Let’s just jump right in: You’re a counselor, right? What does that entail?

Currently, I have my own independent practice.  I specialize with kids ages 3 to 12. I see kids in my practice for all kinds of reasons, ranging from anxiety to behavior concerns to trauma-related incidents. I use a lot of play therapy, sometimes very directive and sometimes not.  It just depends on the child and the concern. I am still adjusting to having my own practice and learning a lot about managing my own business, including billing insurance.

 

Is the counseling business full-time or part-time? 

I work very part-time right now. I only see up to 12 clients per week. Although I also handle the business side of billing, documentation, calls and emails in addition to my clients.

 

What was the impetus for opening your own practice? Tell me about the on ramp process for you? How long did it take for you to feel like you were finally “up and running?” How long now have you been running this practice?  

I transitioned slowly to private practice because my previous job at an agency was very overwhelming. That transition was about 10 months long. I knew for awhile that I couldn’t have done the agency job once I had my own children. I always knew I wanted to be my kids' primary caregiver and that wouldn’t have been an option at the agency. 

 

What in your background prepared you for running your own counseling practice? 

Honestly, the main things that helped me to be able to run my own practice are skills I have acquired (aside from my degree and licensure). I think my communication skills, organization, and resourcefulness have all helped immensely. I have used my communication skills to ensure clarity and understanding with clients/their parents, colleagues, and in written form with paperwork and online material. I have to stay at least somewhat organized so I do not get too behind or in over my head with the administrative side of my business. Lastly, I have had to be very resourceful to track down information to help run my business more smoothly, and to deal with insurance issues.

In addition, I think running your own business requires a lot of self awareness. For example, I try to take advantage of days I am feeling motivated so that I can feel less guilty on days I don’t.

I also met regularly with others who “doing it on their own.”  That exposure was a huge catalyst for me believing I could do it myself, too.

 

What’s the vision for your business? Where have you been and how does your vision guide where you’re going? 

As my time allows, I hope to see a few more clients weekly.  My long term goals are to get certified as a supervisor in both play therapy and Theraplay.  This would allow me to take on supervisees and possibly even do some teaching and professional workshops.  Additionally, I hope to offer more services available to parents, such as workshops or groups.  Eventually, I have thought about doing some teaching at the college level while continuing to see clients.

 

Tell me about a few tools/resources you use to manage your business and mom life? What have you found to be really helpful?

Lindsay's  Circle City Counseling  website

Lindsay's Circle City Counseling website

I have long had an agenda to write things down. I tried briefly to do an “app” for this, but for me there is something about the writing that helps me conceptualize and organize better.  I write down any scheduled items in my agenda and then have a to-do list paper clipped on the week. Since becoming a mom, I brake down the lists into personal, professional, and shopping needs. More recently, I have begun pulling from those lists on a daily to weekly basis and making another list for the immediate needs.  

For my business, I have an electronic record-keeping system I use. I also mark emails as unread until I have followed up.  It’s a hodge podge organization system, but it usually works for me.

 

How do you approach financial management now that you’re an entrepreneur? Do you use specific tools or resources? Do you hire help at tax time? 

I am absolutely still learning! I try to track and keep receipts of any business-related expense. I put it all into a spreadsheet. I pay myself weekly from my business account and try to do a set amount that works throughout the year (even with lulls in client scheduling at times). Last year, we hired an accountant and this year, I took over preparing all the information for the accountant. This helped me understand some of the ins and outs of taxes.

 

So, how’s your business doing? Are you happy with it’s success/progress/state? 

Overall, my business is doing very well!  My schedule is usually full and I often have to waitlist or refer clients out, so that is a good problem to have!  I am pushing myself to get more on top of the administrative/billing piece, and I am slowly working on this. I am very happy where business is at for the most part, though. I hope to expand on it eventually with some professional goals.

 

What’s one detail you’d like to change about your business? 

This is a tricky question for me.  One of the major perks of being self-employed is that I get to decide. So if I want to change something, I can! 

I do wish I could keep seeing kids long-term and not have to worry about my schedule. Right now, it works for me to see kiddos in the evenings and on Saturday mornings, but eventually that will not really work with my family life. Somehow I will have to figure something else out down the road.


The Mom Details

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.
— Unknown

Tell me about your mom life. 

Obviously, I love kids which is why I do the job that I do!  Becoming a mom was a lifelong dream. It took my husband and me three years and several interventions to get pregnant with our son. I do feel like that journey inspired me to cherish mom life that much more.

I will admit that the first six months were pretty rough for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it is such a huge adjustment becoming a mom! Intellectually, I knew it would be,  of course, but the reality is much more mind blowing. I am still figuring out who I am as a mom along with all my roles I was before.

 

You started your practice before having your son, is that right? How did you prepare your business for the changes that would come surrounding your son’s birth and early life?

I started my practice in February of 2016 and had my son July of 2016.  Of course, I had not planned it that way, but sometimes that is how things go!  I prepared clients beginning a couple months out that I would take six weeks of maternity leave.  More would have been nice, but when you are self-employed, there is no money when you are not working!  Plus, I could not have a long gap in services for the children I work with. I provided everyone with letters detailing my time away and while I would still try to be available by phone and email, I offered other therapists' contact info if they should need anything. I scheduled and contacted people closer to my return and kind of eased back in as clients started returning and new clients started coming in.

 

How does being a mom impact your business vision?

Lindsay with her husband and son

Lindsay with her husband and son

I always consider my schedule with regard to my vision to see how it can fit.  Once my son (and hopefully one more child) are in school full-time, I will want and need more work during the day. Being a mom has forced me to sit back and consider things more, and allow for things to evolve as well.  

 

How has your work habits changed after you had your son, as your son grows, or both? 

I really struggled early on to keep up with everything. I think the constant lack of sleep (plus, some health issues that were likely at least partly due to the lack of sleep) affected my ability to think clearly. Fortunately, my mother and mother-in-law were able to help watch my son so I could get some work done.  As he has grown, he got on a much better sleep schedule. That has helped immensely with me getting consistently better sleep and to get things done during his naps. 

 

Tell me about your childcare arrangements? How do you balance work and mom life? Who helps you out? 

We are very fortunate to have our moms come help regularly. They both live two hours away, so I do think they enjoy coming to see their grandson, but it is a huge blessing. We have one other person regularly watch our son a couple hours a week so I can begin seeing clients before my husband gets home. .

As far as balancing work and mom life, every day is different.  I try to make a point to get some work done during naps, try to keep the house clean for the most part, and try to spend quality time with my son.  It is always a juggle and some days are better than others!


Bringing it all Together

What are some financial lessons learned that you’d offer up to other mompreneurs?

I would tell other moms to know your worth and the value of your service.  Make sure you put things in writing and are clear with your pricing.

 

If you could go back and talk to yourself the month before you became pregnant with your son, what would you tell yourself about how “things” would turn out? 

I would reassure myself that everything will be okay and to trust in my faith and the journey.  I would remind myself to try to be present in the moment, but always take time to step back and look at the big picture.

 

What do you know now as a mompreneur that you wish you’d known "way back when"?

I wish I had known to be patient and give it time to work out. I stayed focused and knew what I wanted, worked towards it, but sometimes I wondered if it would ever happen. It takes time to really develop a business and that is a good thing, because then you figure out how to make it work.

 

When people ask you, “how do you do it all?” what do you say? 

I have actually not been asked that particular question!  I have had people ask me how things are going or make references to my work.  I am the only one of my friends who is both the primary caregiver to my child and also still working.  I think my friends have a hard time understanding this perspective honestly.  My husband opened up a brewery with a business partner last year (and is still working his full-time job), so most people reference how am I doing with that juggle in mind. I let people know that I really don’t see my husband much, but it won’t be that way forever.

 

How do you recharge and keep your personal energy up when you’re running a business and raising a little one?

I always make sure to set aside time for myself to shower and get ready. I know some moms don’t bother with this and I certainly don’t put on make up to hang around the house. However, I do feel better when I am showered with my hair blow dried. 

I have scheduled two days a week to go to the gym and hope to expand that soon. I also make a point to get seven to eight hours of sleep, when possible. This did not happen during my son's early months, but it usually does now. With running a business and raising a child, there is always something more I could be doing, but sometimes I need to take care of me to be as effective and efficient as I am capable of being.

 

What advice would you give to fellow mompreneurs or moms who are thinking about jumping into entrepreneurial territory? 

I would say to really consider what you want in regards to professional and personal goals.  This means everything from time away from kids, to what you are interested in doing, to what is realistic for your in your current situation.


Takeaways

Photo by  Dingzeyu Li  on  Unsplash

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

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