When Emily Chandler graduated from college in 2008 and began her career as a speech pathologist, she noticed her caseload consisted primarily of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. She decided to pursue additional training to serve these and other clients, and became board-certified assistant-level behavior analyst — one of a small group of dual-certified professionals working in this arena.
She launched her private practice, Chandler Speech, in 2013 to serve clients in their homes alongside her work in the public school system. As her caseload grew, left the school system and opened an office, taking her business full time.
Within two months she had hired a second speech pathologist to support her practice; within one year, she was able to expand her office space and hire five speech therapists, along with an occupational therapist.
Chandler Speech provides speech and occupational therapy services to children and adults. The practice also offers extended services such as social skills groups, summer camps, and early intervention.
“Barry taught me so much with regard to starting a business and the potential struggles of maintaining a business," Chandler says.
One lesson in particular stands out to Chandler. “Barry taught me the critical nature of cash flow,” she says. “My company has been profitable from the beginning; I have since hired full-time employees including an office manager and an assistant. I have achieved and exceeded my goals outlined initially in my business plan."
In 2016, she spoke at the ASHA national conference about starting a private practice.
“Provided my training has been skill-based in a field of allied healthcare, business and finance was not a part of my formal training,” Chandler admits.
She heard about SCORE at the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association annual conference in 2014, and recalls, “I knew I needed to complete a formal business plan. Reaching out to SCORE seemed like an amazing opportunity to have mentorship to do so.”
Chandler met volunteer mentor Barry Coates, who guided her through the process of developing a business plan, locating a space, “and ultimately opening the doors to my new storefront,” Chandler says.