Nurse Entrepreneur: The Evolution of a Mental Health Nurse to an Entrepreneurial Life Purpose Coach

Nurse EntrepreneurI have always had a passion and aptitude for psychology, spirituality and mind-body medicine. I was and still am interested in understanding the mind and how beliefs and thoughts impact our health and well-being. Fundamentally, this is why I chose my nursing specialty of adult and community mental health. I wanted to help people understand how to live a healthier, more balanced and spiritual life.

A Passion for Prevention…Ahead of My Time
I received my RN degree from the University of Kentucky and a Masters Degree in Adult mental health and nurse-liaison consulting from Emory University in 1980.Back then, my desire was to find a position in prevention or health promotion, but what I was looking for was not available at that time.

There were few innovative opportunities available in prevention in mental health or women’s health care. I put this idea of working with prevention on the back burner.

What I wanted to do as a nurse had not yet evolved. I was ahead of my time.

From Burn-out to a Budding Business
I had many interesting nursing career paths including working in community mental health, adult psychiatry, drug and alcohol, eating disorders and chronic illness. I worked my way up the ladder from staff nurse to clinical supervisor of a large psychiatric hospital in Manhattan.

After spending several years in this position, I resigned. I was burned-out, used up, uncreative and bored. The day I walked out of the hospital was the best thing I ever did for my future.

Without knowing it I had just started on my entrepreneurial path.

I have long been aware that I am not an ideal “organization employee.” I am too “out of the box” for most employers because I have always had different ideas and visions than most management and administrative people.

I just did not fit the system. I never did and I still don’t. I am a visionary who loves to work in alliance with other bright, innovative, stimulating people who want to think bigger and effect change. This is a good thing!

The Road to Becoming an Entrepreneur
First, I secured the perfect flexible, part-time nursing job so I could decide my next steps with out the fear of starvation. Then I decided to go back to school and take classes on how to start and run a success business.

I read every book on marketing and business I could get my hands on. I signed up for classes with the Women’s Economic Development program in Manhattan in the early 1986’s, which offered a 12-month program on every aspect of business: marketing, public relations, sales and accounting. I also learned how to write a marketing/business plan.

I believe that a basic understanding of the fundamentals of business is critical for starting and running a small business. You can be passionate about what you do but if you don’t understand how to market and sell your vision, you are out of business quickly.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…
Since 1990, I have been self-employed as an entrepreneur in a small business. I learned a lot every year I was in business and I made many mistakes along the way. I had several business ideas that “fizzled out” – they were fun ideas but they did not provide the basis for a good, solid start-up business.

After these initial attempts, I started a very successful meeting and event planning business in the 1990’s. I designed and created fun, educational programs and events for corporations and associations. For ten years, I really enjoyed the event business, its opportunities and experiences! Then I decided to sell the event business and once again, explore my next step.

Here We Go Again!
After relocating from New York to Atlanta, I chose to work with women experiencing health and lifestyle changes. It took several months to devise a plan for my current health and wellness business. I created a business and marketing plan that addressed both short and long-term goals. I also created a wellness curriculum for additional training in which I wanted to invest.

What I learned from my event business helped me to create the coaching, training and retreat business I now have!

Education and Training…for Life!
My initial core training was via The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and Harvard Mind/Body Medicine Institute. Later, I earned certification from The Institute of Life Coach Training and The Circle of Life Wellness Program. Over the years, I continued to study marketing and wellness topics such as nutrition, energy, meditation and stress management.

The marketing plan I designed was a specific strategy for my wellness business and expertise. Each nurse who starts her own business will have a different twist on her marketing and training needs. Training needs will depend on your niche market, experience and business plan.

Finally…Sweet Success!
In 1998, I opened a holistic coaching and wellness company that provides a full-range of health and lifestyle programs, courses, and private sessions. I specialized in life and wellness coaching, stress management, energy medicine, meditation and healthy lifestyle classes. I shared an office with a physician specializing in OB/GYN and holistic medicine. Our partnership provided a referral source for each of us to build our client base. I also co-partnered with the community small business organizations and other wellness practitioners.

Each year my business has evolved to incorporate different aspects of health and wellness. I currently focus on health and lifestyle coaching, training and retreats.

Overcoming Challenges
Starting a business is easy, but running a well-organized, visible, financially sound business can be tough. I have had many challenges as an entrepreneur: personal, financial, and emotional.

Most of my business challenges originate from not understanding how to effectively market and brand my business, and from attempting to satisfy my inner critic. I could write a book on both of these subjects!

I have had weeks when nothing went right and I asked myself, “Why I am working so hard to get my work out in the world?” I wondered if anybody cared.

Then I remembered why I am in business.

My Purpose, My Passion
I truly love what I do! I have a passion for helping people “wake-up” and discover how they can live a healthier, balanced, purposeful, spiritually- connected life. I have the freedom to decide what I want to teach and how to do that. I can do what I always wanted to do: help people prevent illness and improve the quality of their life.

When I allowed myself to think big – really big – I got clear on what I “stood for” or “what my purpose was.” I created a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve through my work. This kind of thinking continues to help me create a great business rather than just a good business. By really understanding what you stand for – “waking-up” people, integrity, ethics, teams, possibilities, community – you, too, can have a great business!

Write Your Own Ticket!
With the opportunities available today in every aspect of this burgeoning field of health care, a savvy nurse entrepreneur can effectively write her own ticket to success. Sure, it will take a solid understanding of your own purpose and passion, an awareness of your particular market and its needs, a certain business acumen, support from friends, family and other professionals who can advise you along the way, and a firm grasp of effective marketing, sales and public relations strategies and tactics, plus the skills to implement them. Most importantly though, it will take your drive and determination to work your plan, and make your plan work. Stick with it! What may seem like a rocky road at times may soon become your “yellow brick road” to success!