Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kim Fry, Founder of Autonomy Therapy, located in Austin, TX, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Autonomy Therapy is a Texas-based group therapy practice specializing in – but not limited to – the treatment of eating disorders, body image issues, compulsive exercise, grief, trauma, anxiety, and depression. Our mission is to provide inclusive and accessible mental health services to individuals, couples, and families. We support our clients, fellow clinicians, and our greater ATX community in developing an authentic mind-body connection, with the intention to truly learn how to separate self-worth from body size and weight.

Tell us about yourself. For example, what first got you started working on your business, and what motivates you each day to do what you do.

A combination of many things! I was primarily motivated to open Autonomy Therapy by two key factors: 1) Most therapists aren't provided enough nuanced eating disorder education in graduate school, and 2) Eating disorder treatment can be incredibly expensive. We emphasize the importance of continuous clinician education to ensure clients are getting high-quality care with varying levels of financial accessibility. All of our providers receive thorough, holistic education in eating disorder fundamentals, intuitive movement, diet culture, intuitive eating, and the importance of social justice advocacy prior to meeting with clients for the first time.

We prioritize the hiring of diverse staff who can not only offer a range of accessible pricing options – from student therapists to associates, fully licensed clinicians, and supervisory services – but can offer more informed and inclusive services to existing and prospective clients as well. I'm passionate about supporting both clients and clinicians in learning how connecting more intentionally, intuitively, and compassionately with their bodies will enhance their overall quality of life.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Not only keeping the business afloat through several pivots and initial iterations of the practice but also doing it all while growing and thriving through a pandemic! Kudos and massive rounds of applause to any and all entrepreneurs who went through this process during such a confusing and volatile period of time.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Having patience and compassion with and for myself as I've been on one long, continuous, vertical learning curve! It can feel really lonely at times, and it's not part of my employees' job to understand or have to empathize with the challenging moments of managing the business behind the scenes. Therapists aren't taught business management skills in graduate school, so most of my opportunities for growth as a business owner have come from the wonderful advice I've received from friends, family, and colleagues, in addition to the many, many mistakes I've made.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should: The business will inevitably demand a huge chunk of your time and energy, especially in the early stages. Be mindful of how much you're taking on and committing yourself to, and stay attentive to moments where you likely need to say "no" or delegate tasks to someone else.
  2. Avoid making decisions based on feelings of scarcity: It's your job to make sure the business stays afloat, not to be the perfect fit for every employee or client. It often does more damage in the long run to hang on to a team member or client that isn't a fit for your business, even if it will impact financials in the short term.
  3. I give this same advice to people healing from family trauma: Just because it was done to you doesn't mean you need to repeat the pattern. So many of us have had negative workplace experiences, and it can be tempting to take these behaviors and repeat them with our employees (demanding power instead of earning respect, recycling black-and-white rules that don't necessarily make sense, insisting on meetings that could have been emailed, and so on). I constantly need to "check myself" when I create a policy to ensure it's done with the intention to support and enhance, not limit and control. It's been incredibly healing for me to try each and every day to show up as the leader that I would have wanted when I was growing in the field, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be able to do that for others.

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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