Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jennifer Nery, LAc, Owner of CLINIC Alternative Medicines, located in Northampton, MA, USA.

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

I have been an acupuncturist for 13 years and developed CLINIC Alternative Medicines in 2011. CLINIC is a wellness center that allows practitioners to do their best work with support, so they don't have to spend so much time on marketing, record-keeping, cleaning and maintenance of their space, and so on. Last year, we bought an Italianate Victorian historical building in downtown Northampton, Massachusetts, so our final vision-- of having a beautiful, homey, but professional space to be in for good-- is now manifesting.

Tell us about yourself

I was an acupuncture patient and liked it so much that I bought the company! I had huge successes with acupuncture. When I decided to leave my philosophy Ph.D. program, it seemed like the perfect fit. And it was! I love helping people, working with my hands, using my philosophy and teaching background to diagnose and communicate with patients, and working for myself! After a short time in practice, I realized that I was much more interested and talented than most of my peers in wellness fields on the business side of the practice. It seemed to me that I could play in a bigger sandbox and help other practitioners succeed-- not to mention, get myself a bunch of great colleagues-- by creating a wellness center where practitioners get to run their own businesses, with support and in the community. I get to practice acupuncture, which is essential to my being at this point, and do all the marketing and community engagement, business management, real estate development, and more that stimulates all the parts of my brain!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Creating a truly supportive, uplifting community of practitioners and a community of clients who love it here. There is no competitiveness within CLINIC, even among practitioners who offer 'the same thing.' We support each others' practices, encourage and teach one another, and enjoy each others' company! It's the work environment I have always dreamed of.

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

Definitely, it is making time for everything I want to accomplish, be, and enjoy. After buying a new building last year, I'm coming out of a period of working basically every available minute. But I also have an amazing partner, a 12-year-old and a 3-year-old, a house I like to be in, family, and friends near and far. I do my best to connect with and be present with everyone I love, but I also love my work! That's definitely the hardest balance to strike.

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

  1. You've got to love working hard and care about your results. Whether that's because you intrinsically love your work, or because you care about making your customers happy, or whatever, you have to be fully committed to that goal.
  2. Be outwardly consistent but absolutely ready to pivot behind the scenes. Think carefully through your open hours, your prices, your visual presentation, etc., but be ready to re-evaluate everything behind the scenes, any time, and all the time.
  3. How you do anything is how you do everything. Take care of the stuff that no one else will ever see, with stuff that makes you feel sane and happy. The resonance of that investment comes through to your patrons-- they can feel the chaos or desperation if it's there. If you have a slow day, it's probably because you need to count back-stock or do your taxes!

Where can people find you and your business?

Website (Clinic):

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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