NAME: Jennifer Nery
JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Owner, CLINIC Alternative Medicines, Northampton
WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: November, 2011
WHAT YOU DO: I run CLINIC Alternative Medicines, which is a multi-disciplinary healing center in Northampton. Right now we have 14 practitioners — acupuncturists, massage therapists, Ayurvedic practitioners, a nutritional therapist, a naturopath, a Reiki practitioner and several yoga teachers. My role is to make sure things remain functional, and, I hope, even resplendent at CLINIC. We handle reception, scheduling, linens, accounting and more for our practitioners. And then, of course, I also run my full-time acupuncture practice there, too, in my spare time.
EXPERIENCE: I had an acupuncture practice for a year and a half before CLINIC fell into my lap. What does this mean? I learned a lot on the job from solo practice; my time with CLINIC has just added new dimensions to that experience. Prior to that, I earned two master’s degrees in philosophy and one in Chinese medicine. I combine my very intellectual background, my entrepreneurial experience and a lifetime of work in the service industry to create a fantastic space at CLINIC.
THE MARKET: CLINIC has a two-part market. First, we work to reach clients who may be in need of one or more of our services. This area is absolutely wonderful in terms of the open-mindedness of its residents and their earnest desire to achieve their best health. On the other hand, what pays the bills for us is the practitioners who run their businesses out of CLINIC. So we need to reach both practitioners and the clients they’d like to attract.
HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: Our individual practitioners do outreach, and we often collaborate on advertising, farmers’ markets and events, and so on. One thing that’s been great is that we all really love helping each other with branding and outreach.
WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? I’ve been very, very lucky to have had a lot of support from my family.
KEY TO SUCCESS: I think it’s really important to care about every aspect of the business, and think through every aspect in terms of its impact on your overall perception to the client. Do we need matching tea cups? Can we skimp on candles? Do cloth towels in the bathroom feel unsanitary or homey?
CHALLENGES: The annual cycle of boom and bust in the Valley is very tricky for anyone in a service industry. Summers have been slow for almost all of our practitioners; we’re cooking up some innovative ideas to mitigate that for the CLINIC team. Beyond that, it’s been difficult to find serious, committed practitioners who are not only passionate about their practices but who also want to run a substantial business. We’re still looking to complete our stable.
MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: I’ve realized that I dive in too deep and later need to pull back. I’m trying to set more modest, incremental goals that don’t overwhelm me.
WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: I feel that I am a unique resource for wellness practitioners in the Valley. I’ve helped shepherd quite a few alternative medicine practices at this point. I know what works here, and I love talking about it.
WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: Thom Herman runs The Center at 35 State St., which was my practice’s first home. He always had lots of hugs and helpful advice for me, starting out. Also, Ruth Anne Lundberg of Mama Nirvana’s reached out to me with some of the most concrete, business-changing suggestions I’ve ever received.
TOP GOALS FOR 2013: To cement our core group of practitioners and amp up all of our client bases.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Go big. (And then maybe take it down just a smidge.)
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