Cindy Schmidt has been a physical therapist (PT) for over twenty years and had worked over a decade in Grand Junction in various traditional settings. At the same time, Cindy created her own part-time holistic PT practice and founded a non-profit organization to support holistic health care practices and improve communication amongst holistic and conventional practitioners. She accomplished that with the assistance of the regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Cindy moved to Durango in November of 2013 with the thought to take her career in a new direction. She would continue as a PT, but wanted to work with a different business model. Would she stay within the traditional setting or plunge into entrepreneurship? Hospitals and clinics offered good care, but Cindy wanted more time and holistic attention given to her clients. Cindy was curious if she could launch her own business under a holistic business model. She knew SBDC had an office in Durango and attended their half day workshop on how to start a business. That workshop introduced her to SBDC’s Leading Edge (LE) program. LE is for entrepreneurs who want to learn the intricacies of business and write a complete business plan.
During this transition Cindy recognized the opportunity to open her own business was there. She believed the Durango community would support her practice. “I was inspired to do this and see if the LE class could give me a clearer vision. When the class began, I wasn’t sure which business model to follow. Would I integrate with other professionals, decide to be a sole practitioner or have employees?”
As the LE program commenced, she preferred topics on marketing and organization as opposed to the financial aspects. Jasper Welch was one advisor who helped her realize how to best market her business. He asked her what value would the business offer and what made her stand apart from other physical therapists. Terryl Peterson was an SBDC financial advisor and one of the class instructors. “Terryl wrapped my head around financial projections and what was feasible. A link on SBDC’s website that offered financial spreadsheets was useful as well.”
The LE class also hosted guest speakers to supplement course content. Representatives from Region 9, a regional non-profit that promotes and coordinates economic development in southwest Colorado, spoke at one class. Cindy would need a loan to pay for professional development classes, training, and specialized equipment. She called and connected with Ed Morlan and Jenny Stoller. “Ed and Jenny walked me through the entire loan process.” Cindy added, “Without the business plan I wouldn’t have received the loan.”
Cindy decided to practice as a sole practitioner towards the end of the LE program. She initially shared offices with several professionals three days a week until she opened her own clinic, Pathways Physical Therapy & Holistic Health (PPT&HH) in August of 2014. The following year Cindy was one of the guest speakers for the LE class. “I wanted to share with students the reality of starting a business. I had to contract jobs, juggle a hectic schedule and work extremely hard until I was able to get it off the ground.”
Cindy added, “To be a business owner it takes a lot of drive and focus. I work more hours than I did as an employee but am much happier. Now my focus is on how I can make my practice more sustainable and expand without overworking myself.” She also revisits the ideas of what she wants PPT&HH to look like in the short and long term. “I highly recommend SBDC. I can’t see how I would have accomplished this without their insight and assistance. I’m extremely grateful I took that leap and there was help available to guide me. I’m also grateful I didn’t know exactly how hard it would be to start a business in the beginning.”