Kristi Tackett-Newburg is the CEO/President of Counseling Connections & Associates, a group mental health practice located in Omaha, Nebraska. In addition to her role as a practice owner/manager, Kristi works as a licensed mental health practitioner and is a blogger for PsychCentral. Kristi is in the final year of her doctorate program, pursuing a Ph.D. in Business Psychology. Her academic research interests include the role of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Read our interview with the lovely Kristi below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
As a teenager, I knew that I wanted to eventually start my own business. My father was an entrepreneur later on in his career and I knew that I wanted to follow suit. When I decided to pursue a psychology degree in college, my long-term goal was to own a mental health practice. In 2004, at the age of 25, I started my own private practice, Counseling Connections, LLC. In 2011, I decided to expand and started my second company, Counseling Connections & Associates, LLC.
Tell us about your business.
Counseling Connections & Associates (CCA) is a group mental health practice specializing in psychotherapy, medication management, and substance abuse treatment services. Over the past 5 years, CCA has grown and now includes 14 clinicians (11 mental health practitioners and 3 nurse practitioners) and 5 administrative staff. As the practice owner, I manage and oversee the day to day operations of the practice.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
CCA has several practitioners that offer reduced rates for cash pay clients.
2017 has been a good year thus far. CCA was voted Omaha’s #1 Counseling Service for 2017 by Best of Omaha. In addition, I was recently informed that I will be inducted into the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at Yale University in April. The Bouchet Society recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate.
Other certifications include:
- Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Mental Health Practitioner
- Certified Professional Counselor
- Certified Psychological Assistant
- Level II EMDR Therapist
Where is your business based?
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
First and foremost, I developed a comprehensive business plan. I strongly recommend all entrepreneurs make a detailed business plan prior to starting a new business. Next, I read a variety of business-related books and articles to educate myself on how to build a successful company. Being a business owner requires you to wear many hats. As such, it is a good idea to have a good working knowledge of each component of your business or industry.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Most of my marketing efforts have focused on building an online presence through CCA’s website and social media platforms. Early on, I purchased a book on SEO to educate myself on how to organically generate website traffic. It was very helpful to have a better understanding of the SEO process. Within 3 months, our website began ranking on the top page of Google for several industry-related keywords. My next goal is to build up our social media platforms, as social media marketing is a very effective and inexpensive way to build brand awareness.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The United States healthcare system remains one of the most competitive and turbulent industries in today’s nation. My practice has witnessed declining reimbursement rates, while many consumers are experiencing rising insurance premiums, higher deductibles, and more out-of-pocket expenses each year. For many small to medium-size healthcare practices, this type of economic system can create a stressful financial environment, particularly if people are choosing not to access mental health care.
How did you overcome these challenges?
As a private healthcare organization, we have a dual interest in providing affordable quality care, while generating enough revenue to keep our doors open. This is an ongoing battle. To mitigate this, you must learn to change, adapt and evolve, and do it better than the competition. For CCA, this means taking a proactive approach through ongoing assessments of our internal and external processes and exploring different revenue and cost management strategies.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Self-awareness is key. This means knowing your limitations and when you are starting to get burned out. I try to make a habit of paying attention to my own mind-body cues. When I start to notice my attitude or stress-level changing, I take a break, get some mental rest, then start back up the next day.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Pursuing my Ph.D. in Business Psychology has been the best thing for my practice. Many mental health practitioners do not have business experience as clinical and counseling psychology programs often do not offer business courses. I have taken this knowledge and applied it to my operations, marketing, and management practices. I believe this helps the practice run more smoothly providing a good experience for our clients.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
“You are the average of the 5 people you most closely associate with.” This statement really resonated with me. Basically, who you surround yourself with is who you will become. I believe this advice is helpful for both my personal and professional life.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
- Have a vision and set measurable and achievable goals to fulfill that vision.
- Write out your vision statement or make a vision board to keep a visible reminder of your goals that you can easily see or revisit.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
I am a big fan of QuickBooks Online and Evernote. QuickBooks Online is a must have for any small to medium-size business owner. The program has a clean, simple interface and is very user-friendly. I can quickly enter overhead expenses, revenue, and run payroll within minutes. The mobile app is also very useful for entering expenses on the go. Evernote is a great project management tool that makes it easy to access information across all devices. I use it to organize my notes, photos, excerpts from websites, etc. This is particularly useful when I am gathering research and other information for marketing purposes.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @ktackettnewburg and @counselingomaha
Twitter @ktackettnewburg and @CounselingOmaha
LinkedIn Kristi Tackett-Newburg
LinkedIn Company Page Counseling Connections & Associates
Psych Central Success in the Workplace
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. This book provides an overview of the cognitive systems that shape people’s judgments and decisions. I found this book to be useful for both my business and in my therapeutic work with clients.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
My doctoral dissertation focuses on emotional intelligence in the workplace. I am interested in how this construct can help build more resilient organizations through strong leadership and supervision practices. I plan to apply my dissertation research to my own company.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My main goal for the next few months is to boost my marketing efforts through social media marketing. There is a wealth of information on the Internet on how to effectively use social media marketing to gain new clients.