Challenging mental health stigmas
After witnessing a family member's struggles with mental illness and the stigma attached, in May of 2016 Altheresa Clark embarked on a journey to make a difference in people’s lives. She believes that every person has a purpose in life and her goal is to support them in their pursuit of that purpose. Hence, she started Inspired4Purpose.
Her initial goal was modest – to run Inspired4Purpose part-time while working full-time at a hospital. She did not foresee that the demand for mental health services was so significant that eventually she had to commit full-time to her company.
Transitioning from part-time to full-time entrepreneurship was no easy decision. Altheresa, a moderate risk-taker, grappled with leaving the stability of her job and its benefits. However, the stress and high workload of her previous job pushed her towards this bold decision. In November 2019, she took the leap of faith and went full-time, only to face the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic in March 2020.
Contrary to expectations, the pandemic became a turning point for the practice. The demand for mental health services soared, and Altheresa found herself hiring staff to meet the needs of a world in crisis. Amidst the growth, she faced the challenges of being a first-time supervisor, learning to manage a team and create essential systems.
From therapist to CEO: Finding her voice as a leader and trusting her team
Reflecting on her path, Altheresa acknowledged the difficulty of early-stage decisions, such as hiring her first employee. It was a scary experience, marked by trial and error. Yet, the challenges forced her to evolve, create systems, and change her role from therapist to CEO. Finding her voice, setting firm boundaries, and relinquishing control were all part of this challenging journey.
“I am a control freak at times and having administrators running my baby was hard to fully let go of. It was a struggle and still sometimes I poke my head in and they're like, “I got this” and I am like “I just want to make sure.” I've come a long way in allowing them to do their job right and trusting that they're going to do it well. Because I also used to think, “well, who can do it better than me, right?” But the reality is I hire really good staff so they're able to do their role effectively”, says Altheresa.
Grappling with funding, contracts, and growth
Altheresa's story took a pivotal turn when she decided to seek funding. Introduced by a colleague, she discovered the Community Fund of North Miami Dade, a resource offering not just funding but also invaluable business classes. At the time, Inspired4Purpose was delving into school contracts, and the financial dynamics were unfamiliar territory for Altheresa. The program proved instrumental in helping Altheresa develop a solid business plan and gain control over financial management.
In the business world, the search for capital often leads to seemingly attractive options like merchant cash advances. Tempted by quick access to funds, Altheresa initially embraced this route to fuel the growth needs of the business. However, the harsh realities of exorbitant rates and repayment terms unfolded. Looking back, she advises against such quick fixes, emphasizing the long-term benefits of programs like the Community Fund of North Miami Dade.
As Altheresa continues to inspire and lead Inspired4Purpose with a team of 26 dedicated members, her journey serves as a testament to resilience, coachability, and the transformative power of community support. The Community Fund of North Miami Dade has not only supported her business growth and the cash flow stability to thrive, but has also provide her with the knowledge, experts and tools to confidently taken on business opportunities and challenges.
Her advice to entrepreneurs: seek help, don’t take shortcuts, practice self-care
Having navigated the complexities of entrepreneurship, Altheresa’s advices her peers to seek mentorship, join programs offering classes, and build a strong support network. She stresses the importance of learning from others' experiences, avoiding costly shortcuts, and investing in long-term growth. Additionally, Altheresa highlights the significance of self-care, work-life balance, and seeking therapy when needed.
Altheresa's story is a beacon of hope for those embarking on their entrepreneurial quests – a reminder that with perseverance, a growth mindset, and a supportive community, one can truly make a difference.
If you are seeking additional support for your business, connect with us today to find out ways the Community Fund of North Miami-Dade can assist.