Dr Jacqueline Baulch from Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology

Immediately warm, kind and with a joyful kind of curosity - Dr Jacqueline Baulch of Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology is a psychologist-entrepreneur we're delighted to have as part of the Serious Women's Business community. Iolanthe Gabrie from Ruby Slipper sat down with Jacqueline to learn more about her journey into business - which is surprising and encouraging by turn. With hard-won insights for business owners both new and seasons, make sure to read this article to the very end to learn about two precious items Jacqueline brought along to share with you.

Iolanthe: Did you ever think you'd be in business?

Jacqueline: I had thought about working in private practice as a psychologist during my training, but I didn't think I'd end up running my own private practice. It was only after moving to Canada and working with an older male mentor there who was really encouraging and supportive that I thought - 'Wow, wouldn't it be brilliant to have something like this in Australia?' He was like 'Why don't you create it, then?' At the time I didn't even think it would be something I'd know how to begin creating. 

I: How important are mentors, then?

J: In psychology we have supervisors who are very important - they act as mentors. But they're usually in a paid capacity. The beautiful thing about a mentor is they're offering you advice and wisdom and support, but it's not paid. I think that creates a different energy, because it feels really authentic. I didn't ask him to be my mentor, it happened quite organically.

I: What did you think you would do when you were younger?

J: I thought I'd always be a lawyer, and prior to that, an actress or a singer. I saw a psychologist when I was 16, and she was incredible. I thought - I want to do that. I want to help people understand themselves, and relate to themselves better. 

I: Before you began your business, what did you do? Were there any early signs that upon reflection, led you to your business today?

J: Before I started my business, I did nine years of study to become a psychologist. In some ways, none of that related to starting a business. In many ways, the things I brought to the business were things I learned as a person. During study, they don't prepare you at all to think about what it might be like to run a psychology business. You're trained in terms of how to be a psychology - theory and application. But how you make money doing that isn't a question that is answered.

I: That's not uncommon, is it. Formal education gives you the basic tools of the trade, but doesn't give you any input on how to deal with clients, or how to interpret requests or even win business or talk about money. 

J: If you can't do that, you can't have a viable business. I would add that being a psychologist has helped me to run a business, however - I understand how thoughts and emotions connect and relate. So that has helped me in some ways, in terms of being able to know what my staff need, what clients want when they first contact the business.

I: In my experience, everyone has a distinctive turning point, because beginning a business is a leap of faith. What did yours look like?

J: The turning point for me was when I was hiring a room in another person's practice, she was a natural therapist. I decided I was becoming busy enough that I wanted to hire a room but be more independent. I approached her to share my plans when she told me she was leaving the premises, and did I want to take over the lease? I though that yes, I could take over the lease - but that would involve having two rooms. That was my leap of faith - deciding to bring someone else onboard. I also decided to really invest in that leap by quitting my job as a lecturer, because I was finding it difficult to be a psychologist, run a practice and to do that academic work as well. 

I: How many years have you been in your own practice?

J: Since October 2014, but I started adding people to my team in May 2015.

I: What was the first year like?

J: The first part was on my own, which was different to when other people were part of the practice. The first part I was anxious and scared about whether I'd have enough business. I was unsure about how to spend my time. Now I think back and wonder 'how could I not know how to spend my time!?' - I'm always trying to do so many things now, prioritising what will make the most income for my business. The second half of the first year felt exciting, at the moment I feel very inspired and I don't feel scared anymore. I haven't felt scared for a while. 

I: What do you do, and why do you do it?

J: I am a clinical psychologist, and a director of a small group private practice. We work with a wide range of issues, and we're a client-centred practice. We believe not only in improving mental health, but also well-being. I do what I do because I genuinely feel intrigued by the human mind. Not just by learning about other people's minds, but also in understanding my own. I have an inner drive to understand emotions and ideas on a personal level which is quite intrinsic to me. I have this feeling that I'll never get to the bottom of it - which is daunting - but it also feels exciting because it feels like I'll always be passionate about my business. 

I: How big a part of your identity is your business?

J: It's a huge part of my identity. I think being a psychologist is, and now also running a business is part of my identity. It's part of my identity I feel quite secure in. I feel like I've been able to create it in the way I want to. And because I've worked independently, I've really had to work out what I want my business to look like in terms of ethics and values. Initially I thought I didn't know, but it's naturally evolved.

I: I think there's often a real synchronicity between a person's identity and their business, and also between working out your own life and solving problems in your business. The two things are you, so it makes sense they follow a similar path. 

J: Yeah, absolutely

I: So what are the key things your business can help people with?

J: Anxiety and depression, and relationship issues. Each psychologist also has their own specialities, but everyone in my practice can assist with anxiety, depression and relationship issues.

I: What the biggest joy in your business?

J: I think the time when I feel most joy in my business is when I'm at the clinic, and I'm in the reception area and I'm seeing the psychologists interacting with the clients. I'm hearing and noticing the way they interact, and how incredibly lucky I am to have found such a great team of people. How warm and compassionate they are, really authentic and non-judgemental. If you can't offer those things as a psychologist, it's very hard for clients to trust you and open up. Being able to see that makes my heart sing.

I: It's the result of you! You've made that happen! For all of those people - for the psychologists and for the clients. It's magic!

J: It feels magic. 

I: To date, what is the scariest thing that has happened to you as a business owner?

J: The flood that came through my business - which was scary in terms of a business thing to happen, but also because a psychologist and a client were trapped in the building. All this water flooded in, and they weren't sure how to get out of the building because the doors locked when the alarm system went off. Fortunately the people upstairs were there. It ended up being 15 cms of water inside the building, it was scary for the psychologist. I was fearful for her safety. And after that was the cleanup - my brother helped with that and he was incredible. He was there within 12 hours. But the scariest thing was thinking about us being able to continue to operate, and realising that all of these psychologists rely on me to be able to pay their bills. 

I: What is one piece of advice you'd offer another woman who was thinking about starting a business?

J: I think - for me - it depends on your personality. I'm the type of person who is quite black and white. I'm either really doing something wholeheartedly, or I'm not doing it. What works for me is to really throw myself into that, and in some ways to take a big risk financially and to spend all my time on the business. I know that's not for everybody. Some people like the security of working and doing their business after hours. But I know myself, and my emotional capacity. I wouldn't be able to work full time while trying to get a business off the ground. It means that I have a sense of getting up each day and feeling very excited to work in my own business. I know that's a privilege - but at the same time, I'm taking a risk in doing that. It's not that I get someone else covering me - I'm taking that financial risk.

I: Do you have any advice on things to be wary of before you begin your business?

J: *laughs* There's a few of them! Lots of little things - nothing really major. Just lots of little decisions that I wish someone had told me about before I began! I guess outsourcing is a big one: not something to be wary of, but more so something not to hold back on. Especially if they're parts of your business which you feel aren't your strength or that you don't enjoy. But there's a balance to outsourcing, too. Too much outsourcing can lead to financial stress. It's really a matter of finding a sweet spot. That's one thing I've noticed in my business. You're constantly having to revisit decisions. And not in a ruminating way - more like reconsidering ideas that seemed to work at the time, but don't continue to work. There's lots of mistakes and lots of learning.

I: Tell me about the two objects you've brought to our interview today, and why they're important. 

J: I've brought 'The Gifts of Imperfection' which is my absolutely favorite selfhelp book. I am constantly reading selfhelp and psychology books. I usually have two or three on the go. And this one is one I constantly come back to. I don't like to lend it to clients because I'm scared that they will like it as much as I do and it might not come back to me! And also because it's underlined in a way that reveals a lot about my personality, it's a bit of a window into my soul. 

I: How has 'The Gifts of Imperfection' helped you?

J: This book has helped me as a psychologist, but it's helped me as business owner too. Self-compassion, vulnerability, being authentic - I'm trying to live all these values in my business.

I: And the little red book you've brought?

J: This is the book where I record my dreams. Freud has been quoted as saying that your dreams are the royal road to the unconscious mind. I'm really fascinated by what drives us on an unconscious level. I write my dreams down as a way to understand that more. 

I: Do you wake in the night and write them down?

J: I write them down first thing in the morning. I have really vivid dreams and have no trouble recalling them in the morning, but as the day goes on it's harder. Research suggests that if you start recording anything, you'll start to recognise it more. 

I: Do you think your practice of recording dreams has given you additional insights?

J: I think that thinking about my dreams allows me to think about what is going on for me emotionally. Sometimes from quirky, bizarre perspectives. One of my goals is to try and be in the brain more - to uncover stuff. I think dreams can open up things you might not want to acknowledge about yourself. That are hard to be honest with yourself about. 

I: Is business ownership for everyone?

No, I don't think that it is. I think my psychologists have said that to me - they're really happy working at Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology, but they're not wanting to go out on their own. I don't think it does appeal to everyone. I'm a super organised, list-y, structured person - and I think that in my business you need to be very diligent. Time management has to be something you enjoy. I definitely think that you could go into business liking those things, however.