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How one business owner balances entrepreneurship and mental health

Dr. Sarah Baker, DVM, MPH, owner at Lane Veterinary, shares how she balances career success and personal well-being.

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Mental Health Awareness Month reminds us to pause and reflect on our mental well-being. As an established practice owner, the demands of entrepreneurship, combined with the empathy and care you provide to your patients and teams, make prioritizing your mental health even more important. To offer valuable tips and insights, we interviewed Dr. Sarah Baker, DVM, MPH, owner at Lane Veterinary, to see how balancing her professional responsibilities and personal well-being enables her to excel as a business owner, healthcare provider, and individual outside of work.

Why is achieving a balance between professional and personal well-being important to you?

I think it's important for everyone to maintain and protect their mental health and well-being. We are all more than our occupation, and while many of us love what we do, there are things outside of our careers that bring us joy. If you haven't filled your emotional cup in your personal life, it's impossible to be your best when you are at work. Since I feel so strongly about this for myself, I am a huge advocate of this for my staff, as well.

Do you have a philosophy or mantra that you apply to both your personal and professional endeavors?

"You can do hard things." I tell myself, my kids, and my staff this all the time. Whether it's something as seemingly simple to us (but not to my son) as learning to tie his shoes or a tough medical and emotional case at work, we will always end up on the other side of it after we put in the work. The accomplishment is so fulfilling when you feel like you've put in the work and done the "hard things."

How can business owners effectively align their professional endeavors with their personal life goals and build a business that supports their life outside work?

I just sat in a lecture specifically for practice owners, and the speaker reminded us to work on our practice – not in our practice. Many practice owners can burn out quickly trying to do everything themselves. I've built a business based on trusting my team to accomplish tasks that benefit the business as a whole. I would not be able to align my professional and personal goals without the support of my solid team at work and the teamwork of my family at home.

How did you strengthen your business model to support your vision for work-life balance, considering factors like processes and working hours?

I opened a high-quality medicine day practice. This was easier after the pandemic allowed many urgent care and emergency hospitals to emerge. This business model supports work-life balance, as my team members never work nights or weekends since our industry has the amazing support of after-hours hospitals. We also have a clean and consistent workflow that helps our days stay as smooth as possible, even in an ever-changing work environment.
 
When building a team, how important is cultivating a supportive culture and fostering trust among team members? How does this align with promoting work-life balance for you and your team?

Fostering trust is an incredibly important factor when building a team. Our highest-performing team members feel like this practice is theirs, and it's the best feeling. I trust them to have the best interest of the practice in mind, which makes it easy to delegate tasks to them. This empowers the team, promotes a work-life balance, and leads to feeling fulfilled at work.

It’s great to hear you have a team you can trust and delegate tasks to. How do you prioritize tasks to delegate and choose who in your network to lean on?

I prioritize running the business from the financial aspect while allowing my team to maintain practice culture and gold-standard medicine. We have an amazing tech support team that we use. I rely on my lender, CPA, and practice consultants to help me ensure I am running a healthy business. Building such a large network has helped me grow my startup as quickly as it has!

What additional tips or advice can you offer aspiring or established business owners?

My biggest piece of advice is to remind everyone that they can do hard things! If you've aspired to own your own business, don't let the hard stuff get in the way. It's possible, and the accomplishment is so fulfilling.

This content is for informational purposes and does not constitute the rendering of legal, accounting, tax, or investment advice, or other professional services by neither Provide, its affiliates, nor Fifth Third Bank, and it is being provided without any warranty whatsoever. Please consult with appropriate professionals related to your individual circumstances.

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