We have seen so many of our clients make progress with regards to either becoming active members of their communities, securing employment, or reaching their personal goals. More specifically, we feel our greatest success is empowering our clients and their families by encouraging them to self-advocate. Many times, those who do not speak up for themselves miss out on opportunities and resources they need.
Advanced Behavior Treatment provides direct support to people with disabilities to help them achieve success by increasing independence, health & safety and participation in their communities. ABT’s goal is to help individuals live more independently in their homes and communities by helping them access resources that are available to them, assisting them in exercising their rights, and ensuring they are making progress towards their personal goals.
I have spent much of my career working with adolescents who have mental health diagnoses and/or intellectual disabilities, and I have witnessed the decrease in service options for these adolescents after they turned 21 years old or graduated from high school. Seeing many families become frustrated with the decrease in service options between adolescence and adulthood led me to found ABT with a focus on supporting adults with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and/or mental health challenges.
We work in homes and communities to enable our clients with the opportunity to live as independently as possible and close to their family and friends. We have found that when individuals are near their families and loved ones, they are more likely to stay engaged in their communities.
The greatest high point of being a business owner is being able to shape a company that helps families and individuals get plugged into the resources they need to enrich their lives. Seeing the growth and development of our clients and our employees has also been extremely rewarding.
Another high point is being able to offer meaningful work to people who are looking to have a positive impact on the lives of others.
One of the challenges we have faced is trying to continuously recruit new qualified staff. We work in the service industry so in order to grow we must consistently hire and train new staff. The work can be challenging both mentally and physically so finding people who are committed and aligned with our values presents additional challenges.
We have learned that it truly takes a team of dedicated individuals to grow an organization. Finding team members who are not solely motivated by money, have a strong work ethic and are passionate about the product or service you provide is a critical foundation for success.
I formed ABT as a sole proprietorship in 2013. After collaborating successfully on several cases with Tariq Farr, who was in the process of starting his own business, I asked if he would consider partnering with me in ABT. We understood that each of us had unique talents and experiences in this industry and that our skills could better thrive together rather than in two separate companies. We were unsure on the best way to formalize a partnership so we sought advice from SCORE on how to develop the operating agreement and new ownership structure.
SCORE has opened our eyes to the benefits of going into a partnership and educated us on reasons many partnerships succeed or fail. They also helped us identify areas of strength and weakness in our business model and provided us with guidance to help scale our business. We knew what type of service we wanted to provide, but we had limited or no experience with hiring employees, Human Resources, or identifying the necessary business entity forms and applications required to do business at the State and County levels.
We met with two mentors regularly, Gloria Reisman and Mitch Gerson. Each expanded our thinking process by identifying issues that we would never have thought of on our own. Gloria has provided excellent ideas and information about the hiring process, retention, employee handbook and other human resources related issues. Mitch has provided great insight into legal matters, contracts and various scenarios that could challenge a partnership. The experience each mentor has in their own personal business careers has proved to be invaluable for us by saving us hours of research time and probably thousands of dollars in consulting fees.
Seek an experienced mentor who can advise you on areas in which you are unfamiliar. This person does not need to have experience in your specific industry because there are so many areas in business that overlap. A mentor who can give you advice based on his/her personal experiences can be a great asset because not only can they guide you on steps you should take, but perhaps more importantly, on steps you should avoid based on the mistakes they have made or have seen others make.
The SCORE mentors are very helpful and knowledgeable with decades of experience in their respective fields. They help you look at your business from different perspectives which will help expand your vision of what you need to do to be successful. They also hold you accountable by providing you with action items after each meeting to ensure that you and your business are moving in the right direction.