Active NW - Coeur d'Alene, ID
““When you make the right choices, things just seem to go easily, which seemed to be the case for us””
When Neil and Hannah Morris first tossed out the idea of jumping into business with their friends Shawn and Jean Sweetapple, they were just playing with the idea. Neil had recently made a career change from school teacher to physical therapist. He and Hannah, a PTA of 20+years, had been working in the same practice and had joked with their long-time friends that they should start a practice together.
Initially a bit nervous to take the leap, they mapped out a plan and things began to fall into place. Within just a few months, they found a suitable location in which Jean and Neil could start seeing patients and they opened their doors. Six months later, Hannah joined the practice and Shawn came on as head of maintenance.
A friend recommended that they call North Idaho College’s Small Business Development Center to meet with a business coach. All four enrolled in the recommended ‘Business Accelerator Series’ classes. Together they learned how to become business owners, identify and reach their customers, and create a focus on exceptional client care. They each left the classes with new insights, and from four different perspectives.
As business grew, they became comfortable, but not complacent. “It was hard not to be tempted to swap leadership/planning time for time with patients – the thing we would actually get paid for”, says Neil.
“We don’t quite fit the mold of the typical American business or American dream where the goal is to grow and make as much profit as you can. In our business clients are not just a number or dollar amount, we are here for the benefit of everybody and our community.”
A PT’s prescription for a healthy business:
As united in advice as they are in business, the Sweetapple’s and Morris’ offer what they’ve learned:
- Have clarity in your mission; know why you are in business
- Know who you serve and how
- Review it mission regularly with your team to reaffirm
- Keep to your company’s core principles and visit them often
- Set firm boundaries to maintain healthy work/personal life balance
And most of all, says Neil, “be open to the opportunities that present themselves. They might not be what you expected but may be just what you need.”
Northern Idaho SBDC Success Story, 2022
Coeur d’Alene, ID