Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jess Shade, Owner of Altura Counseling and Coaching, located in Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

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

Altura Counseling and Coaching is a private therapy practice in the state of Utah as well as an international source for coaching and speaking. For therapy, my clients or adults an outpatient treatment. My unofficial slogan is "I serve queers and mountaineers." Members of these two communities are near and dear to my heart as I share these identities myself. My organizational clients hire me to provide wellness coaching as well as in-house therapeutic services for their employees if they are located in the state of Utah. Furthermore, I am hired to speak on topics of resilience, grit, DEI, identity, and wellness to companies based on my work as a therapist, my identity as a queer woman, and my experience as a high-altitude ski mountaineer.

Tell us about yourself

I am a queer cis woman, a licensed clinical mental health counselor (CMHC), and a high-altitude ski mountaineer. I am so fortunate in my business to be able to knit together personal and professional interests. The majority of my work is individual and couple sessions. However, I also get to work with organizations such as the Utah Avalanche Center as their therapist. Furthermore, I work with the American Alpine Club in their efforts related to climbing grief and wellness. I have skied the world's eighth-highest mountain, Manaslu (8163m), becoming the second woman to do so. I have attempted other large objectives in Pakistan and Alaska, as well as climbing all over South America. Before my work as a therapist, I worked as a wilderness therapy guide, which brought me to Utah from my hometown of Atlanta, GA. More info about me and my journey, as well as my speaking, can be found on my website.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I suppose one of my biggest accomplishments so far is developing two pilot programs for outdoor professional organizations to have wellness training and in-house therapy services provided to their staff. Traditionally guiding and outdoor government organizations have been slower to provide employee benefits related to tailored therapy and wellness skills to their employees.

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

One of the hardest things as a business owner for me is to avoid goal diffusion by saying "yes" to too many things. Remembering my overarching mission and the goals which support it helps me stay focused. Assessing this yearly, quarterly, and monthly in terms of what speaking engagements and trainings I say yes to is very helpful.

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

  1. The first tip is to start with what you already know and expand from there. This includes not only what you can do or what you were trained to do, which are obvious but also includes the unique experiences you've already had in your life and personality that make you, you. These are the things that are not trainable or replicable and, therefore, would make your business unique.
  2. The second is to interview everyone you think might know about your potential business. Get very curious and ask many people many questions. Listen well and draw out themes.
  3. The final tip is to make an accurate evaluation of your shortcomings and weaknesses which will impact your business. Decide whether these are points on which you can grow or if they're areas in which you will need to hire or ask for help.

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.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.