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Today, small business owner and bilingual pediatric speech therapist, Luz Gaona, Inc. shows us how to embrace mistakes, without losing sight of the mission.
In The Tip Jar, Gaona shares with us how to look at opportunities, how to research a business and how to stay positive about yourself.
Meet Luz Gaona.
FAIL, FAIL AND THEN FAIL AGAIN… IT’S YOUR BEST TEACHER
“The first time I was, like, I can do this… I don’t need anybody… It’s that mentality. It’s me against the world.”
It didn’t take one or even two tries for Luz Gaona to figure out how to make her speech therapy practice for disabled and learning-delayed children work.
It took her three tries to get it right.
“It’s been a lot of mistakes. But I think that’s one of my biggest teachers is making mistakes and learning from my own mistakes.”
THE TIP JAR (tips provided courtesy of Luz Gaona)
STARTING OUT: “Don’t say no to opportunities and experiences just because they don’t fit in that box that you have already set up for yourself of what that end result is going to look like… Because I can tell you, [even] from my most humble position being in retail, there are things that I learned then that I still use today.”
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career): Gaona recommends, when researching to find a business, “always research to make it your own. You don’t want to make it look like someone else’s [business] because, then, what makes it different? Why wouldn’t I already go to someone who is already established?”
STARTING OVER: “You’re definitely worthy of this. Because a lot of people… lose themselves in their kids or their career because that’s what they had to do to support a family… You bring value to whatever it is. You’re here for a reason. If you haven’t quieted that voice, then you have to listen to that voice telling you this is what your purpose is.”
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN: “Something I’ll never do again is doubt myself… I could’ve done it five years earlier. And they still would’ve been the same mistakes. But then I would’ve been five years ahead from where I am today.”
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”/BEST “HOUSE” ADVICE: “Something that always stuck with me from my abuela [grandmother] was, ‘Échale ganas, mi hija!’”
LOOSE TRANSLATION: Give it all you've got, my child!
Gaona says, “For me, that means… when you do something, do it at 100%... If you’re going to put [in] the time to do something, invest in it and give it your all – or don’t do it at all.”
FORGIVE YOURSELF, EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T MEET YOUR OWN TIMETABLE
Even getting her Master’s degree took her a while. Gaona didn’t finish it till just before her son went into high school.
“It’s taken so long to finish, I knew there had to be a bigger purpose other than to just say, yay, I did it.”
When she finally decided to open Southshore Bilingual Therapy, Inc., serving children on Medicaid, she did it without truly realizing everything involved.
MAKE A CHECKLIST & SEEK OUT THE POTENTIAL IMPACT
To start, she didn’t fully take into account the impact of taxes.
“You have to respect the law with taxes. I was, like, okay, I don’t want to be paying a lot of taxes on the back end.”
Then there were all the necessary licenses.
“Not knowing, I thought it was just a matter of getting [a] Medicaid number provider and having just what I thought Medicaid required – and I’m set. And, then, I come to find out, I didn’t get credentialed. There’s so much more. And I’m, like, oh, this is going to take a little bit longer. So I had to eat some humble pie.”
LEAVE YOUR JOB ON GOOD TERMS, YOU MAY NEED TO GO BACK FOR HELP
Fortunately, she had left her previous jobs on good terms. So she was able to do PR and have some sort of income while she tried to get everything lined up properly.
It took her 4 months, or 120 days, to finally get credentialed.
Gaona says, those were “the longest 120 days of my life.”
HAVE A BACK-UP TO THE BACK-UP FUND
She also knew she should’ve had money set aside for expenses and unexpected emergencies when starting her business.
But she didn’t have either.
So Gaona decided she would do what she knew she shouldn’t do: she’d tap into her retirement savings. She remembers how the conversation went inside her head.
“I’m not turning back. I’m not going back to [the] corporate world. I can’t. I’m, like, I invested too much into this part of my dream. I can’t. I can’t close it. It would bother me so much that it would kill me inside to go back.”
So she reached out to the SBA (Small Business Administration), SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and also worked with mentors.
They all had the same message for her.
“If you do this with Medicaid, with the amount of Medicaid in that community, you’re not going to be successful. You’re going to be in the red.”
BREAK DOWN BIG PROBLEMS WITH STEP-BY-STEP MINI SOLUTIONS
Here’s how Gaona attacked the problem, growing her practice from seeing four patients at the start every week to now serving, along with six other therapists, about 180 kids weekly.
“In order for this to be successful, I have to be able to see this many kids. And, okay, so then, I have to look at those numbers. Okay, so now I know, in order for this to be successful now, with this [number] of kids I have to see, I have to bring on other therapists. But not just other therapists. They have to be like-minded therapists. So their purpose has to be aligned with my purpose.”
LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE
Her purpose drove her to take all of these chances because she felt compelled to serve her community because of the voice inside.
“I could’ve easily quieted it down if I would have not taken a leap of faith on myself. And then who would’ve served… these kids?”
INDUSTRY: Speech Therapy (Bilingual and serving Special Needs Children)
STARTED BUSINESS: 2019
Mother was born in Mexico
Her late father was born in either Texas or Mexico
Florida State University – Master’s degree in Communication Science and Disorders
University of South Florida – Bachelor’s degree in Language, Speech and Hearing Science
DREAM JOB AS A KID: “My dream job was to be a veterinarian because I just love animals. In my dreams, we would have so much money, I could buy a semi and I could pick up all the street animals and take ‘em home and care for them. And then I started seeing people come on the news for having so many animals. And I was, like, we cannot do that.”
“And, now, I satisfy that inner child part of the dream; I rescue animals. So when one of my family members passes and they transition, we’ll rescue another animal.”
But Gaona does have a rule of thumb she follows.
“We have three animals right now. At any given time, we try not to outnumber the humans… because then we’re in trouble.”
BIGGEST GOAL YET: “My biggest goal is for there to be inclusion… just inclusion… And for them [disabled and learning-delayed children] to not only feel that they are accepted, but that they are embraced.”
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
Going Beyond the Business Plan
You know it’s strongly recommended you create a business plan when starting a business. But what makes this FREE webinar different is that it goes beyond that. Sure, you’ll learn how to craft your business plan. Then, it’ll teach you how to put it into action and measure the outcome and whether it’s working or not. Plus, you’ll get tips for staying focused on it. Here's more info:
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
“You Created a Business Plan, Now What?
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
1:00pm EDT – 2:30pm EDT
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
Time Management Through Delegation
This is a recorded webinar from last year. But I think time management is such a big thing so many of us struggle with (that includes me), in both our personal and professional lives, that I’m always searching for tips to do better. This webinar provides tips to help you figure out what to delegate and what to do yourself – to grow your business and provide you with more free time.
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
“A Simple Process to Manage Your Time and Identify Which Items to Delegate”
INSPIRATION FOR THIS ISSUE:
No one likes failure.
Journalists (i.e. me) can be especially hard on themselves when they make mistakes (think factual errors, typos, spelling errors, flubs on air, the list goes on and on).
But if you think about it, in most cases, we probably learn a lot more from failure than we do from success.
To be an entrepreneur, you have to be able to stomach a lot of failure.
Anecdotally, I've noticed tech entrepreneurs seem to be made of a little more Teflon than the rest of us when it comes to accepting failure and moving on from it.
Luz Gaona appears to have a greater capacity for dealing with failure, too.
She doesn’t speak with regret about the failures she experienced.
Instead, she brushes them off as mistakes that were just part of the process.
To be sure, the secret behind it seems to be her burning conviction about fulfilling her purpose in life. That's why she doesn't dwell on any mistakes or failures for too long.
She knows why she’s here on Earth. She knows what she needs to do. And she will find a way to do it, no matter what.
I’ll share, in Part Two, the compelling reason that drives Luz Gaona to make her mission of helping disabled and learning-delayed children a reality.
What I think you’ll find also interesting is how she takes a problem and finds a solution for it – with a twist. You don’t want to miss Part Two of Luz Gaona’s entrepreneurial journey. It’s in the next issue of Generation Si!
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