After completing her doctorate and becoming a professional therapist, Dr. Yvonka De Ridder could have taken the safe route and followed her peers down a sure road to success.
She could have put her hard work — the years of school, the months of clinicals, the countless hours of studying — behind her and accepted an easier life by joining an established practice, setting up a cushy office, and beginning to collect a nice paycheck as a professional therapist.
But that life wasn’t for her.
Despite the suggestions and guidance from those around her, she didn’t follow the normal professional path of joining a practice. She didn’t walk away from the hard work and sink comfortably into a steady routine.
Instead, she embraced a new challenge, followed her passion, and carved her own path — because in her heart, she is a true indieprenuer.
Staying Independent vs.
Joining a Established Practice
When most of us think of entrepreneurs and freelancers, we think of them in the traditional sense. We imagine business majors, writers, creatives working out of their home, or managers running a brick-and-mortar.
But indiepreneurs striving for a more independent life exist in every field, and many of them work in professional service industries as solo practitioners.
Solo practitioners, as their name suggests, work in their own small practice instead of in an established practice with other professionals. They take on the responsibility of providing their highly-specialized service and managing the operations of the business.
It’s no easy feat.
You have to be talented in the area of your specialized service and have the business acumen to start and successfully run a business.
So, it’s no surprise that many of Dr. Yvonka’s supervisors and peers were trying to guide her away from the decision to start off on her own.
“People wanted to be supportive, but I felt like people were indirectly trying to discourage me. Some other experienced professionals were constantly reminding me how difficult it is,” says Dr. Yvonka.
In a field where it is lucrative to join a established practice and bring in a decent paycheck without all of the headaches and stress of starting your own business, most therapists do choose to take the more secure plan.
But Dr. Yvonka didn’t see her decision to start her own practice as a path to less financial security — she saw it as a road to something more valuable.
“In this industry, there is a conflict battle between being a service provider and creating real change. There is a battle between money and passion. And, at the end of the day, I’d much rather do what I’m passionate about and what I have a vision for than work for an agency with a steady paycheck,” she says.
Creating a Vision for
Dr. Yvonka has a unique vision for helping people create real change in their lives.
After experiencing her own bout with of mental exhaustion, she realized that to heal — we need to heal our whole selves, not just the broken parts.
She found that a holistic health and wellness plan focused on all of the major pillars of life — mind, body, soul, love, and sex — was the only way to fully address and resolve the stressors that affect each of us.
There were no facilities in her area offering a combination of services that holistically treated people in this way, which meant two things for Dr. Yvonka.
- If she wanted to work in a practice that followed this philosophy, she’d have to create it herself.
- There was a gap in the market and need for this type of practice in the field.
Dr. Yvonka saw this as a big opportunity.
“The thing I like about being independent is that if I see a market need or an area that I can improve on, I can explore it and develop it without be shut down by a boss. Sometimes when you work with people, they don’t share your vision,” she says.
Instead of trying to bring her philosophy to another practice, Dr. Yvonka knew she had to start her own.
Loving Life Today — a wellness and holistic health center focused on treating mind, body, soul, love, and sex through counseling, yoga, meditation, and therapeutic massage — was born.
Using a Personal Brand to
Expand Her Reach
Loving Life Today only half of Dr. Yvonka’s vision to help people live better lives.
Dr. Yvonka is a board certified Clinical Sexologist and has her Ph.D. in Clinical Sexology. And, she puts this unique expertise to good use.
Shortly after launching Loving Life Today, Dr. Yvonka began promoting her personal brand and expertise by building an online platform to help people shift their mindsets and overcome the stigmas that surround sexuality.
She has an active blog, regularly hosts live Periscope and Meerkat streams, and is very present on social media.
By leveraging her unique knowledge, growing her digital presence, and building an audience, Dr. Yvonka built a platform to share what she knows and help as many people as possible.
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That platform has lead to a variety of opportunities to help her promote herself and Loving Life Today, create a more independent life, and continue to move her vision forward.
Through her personal digital branding, Dr. Yvonka:
- has been invited to appear as a guest on radio and news stations
- became a spokesperson for the Jasmine.TV #SexIshealthy movement
- gained sponsorship from couple-focused retailers
- lead workshops and classes
- has been quoted in a variety of online publications
- has even been approached by a media company about a possible television production
All of these opportunities arose because Dr. Yvonka continually builds and leverages her personal brand, promotes her unique knowledge, and strongly follows her passion.
Dr. Yvonka now gets the chance to help those who are local through her brick-and-mortar practice. And, she is able to service a much larger audience through her online brand. She plans on growing both of these platforms so that she can help as many people as possible find the tools and mindset to live the life they love.
Dr. Yvonka’s Success
Dr. Yvonka is an example of what can happen when you follow your values and passion. When you choose to follow your mission instead of money, others may not understand. But if you continue to chase what keeps you motivated and build a life around your skills and knowledge, professional success will be that much closer.
As I talked to Dr. Yvonka, she mentioned some other advice she has learned along the way.
- Believe in the Law of Attraction: When people were discouraging Dr. Yvonka from going out on her own, she was able to tune them out by tuning into the thing that really mattered. Instead of focusing on the fear that she wouldn’t make it, she put all of her mental energy into believing that she would succeed. She believes focusing on getting what you want will help it come to you.
- Clearly Set Your Intentions: Dr. Yvonka also knows it’s not enough to just believe. You have to set plans to achomplish your goals. Dr. Yvonka said that she was very clear about her goals and what she wanted to accomplish step by step.
- Look for Resources Around You: It wasn’t until Dr. Yvonka was deep in her business that she realized there was a free small business resource center just down the road from her. She suggests doing your homework and making sure you find and utilize the resources around you.
- Seek Out Mentors: “One of the things I really wish I did was seek out mentors. I really wish I made more of an effort earlier to learn from other people,” she says. Like many indiepreneurs, Dr. Yvonka thought she’d save herself money by figuring it out on her own. But, failing to get help actually ended up costing her more money down the road.
- Start Off on the Right Legal Foot: When you are just starting, it’s easy to want to rush into things. But Dr. Yvonka learned that not taking the time to understand and set up a proper business structure can lead to problems down the road. It’s harder to go back and fix things instead of planning ahead when it comes to finance and legalities. Be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to your business and brand.
For many people, starting a business isn’t a question. It’s a path to your passion you knew you were meant to follow. Take it from Dr. Yvonka. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
“There’s the risk. It’s scary for a lot of people. But for me it’s worth it because I get to do what I love and help people,” says Dr. Yvonka.
The Featured Indiepreneur Series
The Featured Indiepreneur Series is here to remind you that you too can create a more independent career and life by leveraging your knowledge, talents, and a powerful digital presence.
Find out what it takes to launch your Indie Career by downloading this Free Starter Guide that tells you exactly what an Indie Career is, what you need to do to start yours, and how it can change your life.
Connect with Dr. Yvonka
To learn more about Dr. Yvonka, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Or check out her practice Loving Life Today and download her free ebook How to Take Control and Start Living a Life You Love: 75 Small Daily Adjustments to Improve your Mind, Body and Attitude.