After revealing December’s Qualification Grant Finalists last week, we’re excited to announce our qualification grant winner. Congrats Laura Richardson, founder of Communicate For Life, LLC!
Read on to learn all about Laura and her business.
Communicate For Life, LLC
Laura F. Richardson, MA, CCC-SLP
WN: Tell us about your business and how you got started.
LR:I started contracting to provide therapeutic services to Berks County families with children with speech, language, and feeding needs through the birth to 3 early intervention system. As the little ones I work with have begun to age out of the birth to 3 early intervention system, I have learned there is a need for home-based services for ages 3-5 in our county as well as additional services. Many local outpatient providers have waiting lists or limited hours (i.e., aren’t available on evenings or weekends!) I saw a need for that population, so I began to expand my services. Basically, as the families I serve express a need, I try to fill it if I can given my areas of expertise. Many of the concerns the families I work with have are concerned with developing functional communication systems using a variety of means (such as spoken language, signs, communication devices) and minimizing behavior problems that children demonstrate when they can’t effectively communicate. I have unique training in both of these areas, so this is a great need for me to fill! I also try to approach my business with the philosophy that I’m not really completing with other local service providers. I offer unique services for those with complex communication and/or behavior issues. I also offer home-based services for an age-group that does not normally have access to home-based services (ages 3-5) and therapy sessions during nontraditional hours (evenings and weekends).
WN: What made you decide to work with children ages 0-5?
LR: Really I work with individuals with functional communication needs of all ages (Hence, For Life!) In fact, my Ph.D. candidate research is with adults with complex communication needs. However, my current clinical practice is targeting ages 0-5 because I work primarily in early intervention at this time. I love working with children ages 0-5 because there is such a need in this area, and I enjoy working closely with families. Language development happens so rapidly in this age range, so quickly developing a communication system that works efficiently for a child and his or her caregivers is elemental to alleviating and preventing behavior issues and long-term social impacts.
WN: Do you have plans to employ anyone else?
LR: Right now it’s just me earning an income from this business, but I would love to become profitable enough that I can hire an administrative assistant and, in the future, other therapists specializing in a variety of areas.
WN: What type of therapy do you find to be most successful?
LR: What an interesting question with so many interesting ways to answer! The best therapy uses evidence-based practices (tried and true techniques that have a strong research and theoretical basis) to meet and adapt to the needs of the child or individual with communication needs, his or her communication partners, and the environment. The most successful therapy programs aim not just to alleviate a problem, but to truly serve a child and his or her family in functional settings. When I am authentically able to “click” with families and we co-develop a treatment plan and procedures, when we are truly a team, then children make progress and their families feel positive about the experience, then we truly have a “therapeutic relationship” and can count on current and future success.
WN: What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?
LR: Be authentic. Believe in what you are doing, or get out. Be service-oriented. Be confident enough in your competence to be yourself and be honest about what’s outside your area of expertise. Your clients will love and trust you for it. Find a mentor. Carrie Wilkerson says “you should be in business for yourself, but never by yourself.” She’s my mentor and has no idea. I just read her books…and learn, and implement. Have a team. Find an attorney and an accountant you trust. (Quick shout out to Socrates J. Georgeadis (my attorney at Georgeadis/Setley Attorneys and Advisors) and Bob Shaner (my accountant at Integra Business Solutions). They worry about the stuff I find stressful so I don’t have to! I get to be totally focused on providing services to the families I work with.
Thanks for reading! Remember that we award a grant every month – if interested, please apply today.