Entrepreneur: Debbie O’Meara, Autoimmune Angels
Describe your business.
Autoimmune Angels is a functional medicine clinic. We take pride in our science-based, all-natural way to become healthy again. We strive for patient-centered medical healing instead of looking at and treating health problems as isolated diseases, i.e. autoimmune disease.
We run necessary labs based off the medical health history and initial consultation with the patient and use those findings to develop an individualized treatment plan to heal the root cause of bodily symptoms, imbalances and dysfunctions.
What’s your title?
Functional Medicine Practitioner
What drove you to launch your own business?
My own personal journey to heal my body of my own autoimmune issues. Two degrees and several certifications later, I understood that I had an obligation to help others the way I was able to help myself and my family. I knew in my heart that I could make a difference.
How many hours do you typically work in a week?
Let’s just say “lots.” I spend, on average, 50-60 hours a week between patient care and administrative work.
How many employees?
Right now it is just me; however, I am happy to announce that I will be adding to my staff in May.
When did you start your business?
I opened my practice as a home-based business in 2015 while I was still in school full-time. I was limited to how I could serve people without my degree, but I still saw positive changes in their lives.
If you left another job to start this business, what was it?
I was a chief financial officer for a nonprofit for 13 years. I always had a heart for health and health care. I just never pursued it until I was faced with my own health challenges that looked like they were permanent and debilitating.
Do you work elsewhere in addition to the time you put in at your business?
No, I do not. I always believed this was where I was supposed to be, and I had a responsibility to become the best I could be to serve others.
What sacrifices did you make to launch this business and to keep it running?
It would be a smaller list to ask, “what I did not sacrifice.” Time, energy, money … the list goes on.
My husband and I put everything we had into it financially without loans and major overhead expense. He worked extra shifts to help keep things going when the business was at a loss. When things broke down at home, we fixed or repaired only if it was necessary. It was very challenging for my husband to accept the fact that this was my full-time job when there was little or no income with it.
I kept my trust in the Lord knowing that this is what I was called to do — this was my purpose. I put lots of time and energy developing the practice and many sleepless nights studying and finishing school. I kept on telling myself that this chapter in my life will end and things will get better. Looking back now, I would have to say the biggest thing that kept me going was prayer. I stayed focused and determined because I knew it was where I was supposed to be.
At times, everything in me told me to quit and go get a “real” job. Even my husband, who was losing patience, at one point told me to give up on this hobby. He called my full-time job “a hobby.” It was impossible, it was buried too deep within my heart and I would not give up on my promise to help others.
What is the best thing about owning a business?
Gratification and very rewarding. It is something I did not know I had in me. I grew up in a family as far back as I can remember that went to work, put in a hard day, received a paycheck and went home. That was normal to me. Until I was led to this opportunity.
I honestly can say now that it has been an amazing journey. It is hard work that comes with a lot of tears, sweat, trust, and faith. The statement “the freedom to do what you like” could not be further from the truth. It is the opposite. I found myself working harder and longer and I still do; however, it is the reward of helping others that keeps me going.
The blessing of the evening commutes reflecting on the day and remembering that one special smile on a face that was once full of hopelessness and despair.
What is the hardest thing about owning a business?
One of the hardest things for me is to walk away at the end of the day and try to keep a healthy balance between my personal life and the business. Taking time for self care and family become a vital part while building a business but yet it gets so innocently ignored.
What is your hope for the next year?
To grow and expand. I am reaching a point that I need to help the clinic provide better service with additional staff and with that comes the need for more clinic space.
I am a proud owner of a non-profit called Health-N-Healing. I am hoping to expand my nonprofit to not only help others that cannot pay for services but also build clinic space.
What inspires you to keep doing it?
What keeps me going is knowing that I am making a difference in people’s lives. Giving people back that gift of health as well as teaching them the importance of how to take care of that gift once it is reached. It becomes not only a healing experience to them but also educational. They enjoy the opportunity to learn about themselves and what their bodies need to become the best they can be. They make lifestyle changes as they move through the treatment programs and they truly become a different person in the end. Once again, appreciating who they are and what they have become. That is what inspires me to keep going!
Knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently?
Yes, I feel there is always something that you tried that was a mistake and you see that later, but I feel that is all part of the process. I have learned through every experience and in the end that means more than never making the mistake to begin with.
The biggest thing I wish I would have done different is placed more trust in the process. I, as most of us, come with a mindset that we want things right away. We have a vision and we expect that vision to happen the minute we open the door for business. Unfortunately, that is not how it works It is a process of growing thru trials and experiences that teach us along the way how to become a better business owner.
I have learned to never get discouraged over small beginnings. The small beginnings are a gift. It is the small beginnings that make the business what it is years later.