Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dori Mages, Founder of North Shore Family Services, PLLC., located in Northbrook, IL, USA.

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

North Shore Family Services, PLLC is a mental health practice providing real-life strategies and empirically tested tools to children, adolescents, parents, adults, couples, and families. We have been offering HIPAA-compliant teletherapy services since 2019 and also work with our clients in our offices in Northbrook, Skokie, Park Ridge, and Libertyville, Illinois.

Tell us about yourself

I have been married to my best friend since 1994, and we have two daughters and a son, who are all young adults now. I am a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) who knew since I was a teenager that I wanted to work with children, adolescents, and families. I worked in a variety of settings in my field: foster care, non-profit agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practices before starting my practice in 2012. I learned from every organization where I had worked previously and wanted to create a private practice that offered ever-expanding knowledge, resources, and training to staff, so we could provide the best care for our clients. I love seeing our clinicians grow and our clients make progress.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

As a therapist, we aren't taught how to run a business and are told from the moment that we enter graduate school that we will "never make any money" doing this important work. While no one goes into our field to become wealthy, we do need to support ourselves. As a practice owner, I feel my biggest accomplishment is providing a beautiful, resource-rich setting for our clinicians to work and grow in their skills while being paid well. All of our staff are employees, but they are allotted a great deal of independence in their work.

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

Being a successful business owner with employees means being a strong leader. The hardest aspect of being a strong leader is having to set and follow through on expectations as well as making difficult decisions that may not always sit well with employees. Thus, good communication is key to executing these decisions to produce the best outcomes.

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

  1. Be willing to work hard and persevere because although running a business is not easy, it is worth it.
  2. Seek and listen to advice from others who know more than you do. If you are the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room. You should always be learning from others.
  3. Be patient with yourself and others when you are faced with obstacles. A dear mentor always tells me: if you have an issue, you have an opportunity.

Where can people find you and your business?

LinkedIn (Personal):
LinkedIn (Company):

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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