It’s ok to be serious…and not to be serious: Both are ok. There are times and places to be serious, but also let your inner you come out sometimes, be genuine. Sometimes people, even other women, and other business owners need to see that you have a side to you, that isn’t ALL about business. It’s ok to be yourself and let your true colors shine, be goofy, be funny, be adventurous, have a good time, laugh a little, it’s ok.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Meghan Braun.
Dr. Braun is the owner of Body Mechanics Physical Therapy, a self-pay, direct access, no referral needed physical therapy clinic and sports performance facility. She is also the Owner and Co-Founder of The Lax Box, a lacrosse training facility, the first of its kind in Florida. Dr. Braun is a board certified Doctor of Physical Therapy, certified in manual therapy, a strength and conditioning specialist, lacrosse coach, and emergency medical responder. www.docmeghanbraun.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I decided to get into physical therapy because I wanted to be able to help people heal from injury, prevent injury, and move better through life and sports without prescribing pain meds or surgeries. When my younger brother sustained an injury as a wrestler in HS, he wasn’t given all of the options to be able to return to sport, his doctors just recommended surgery and that was it. He became very depressed after his surgery, and was told he couldn’t wrestle anymore (which is typically never the case). I don’t want this to happen to other people, especially younger athletes, because it could change their whole life trajectory, and puts them at a higher risk for mental health issues and suicide.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Some of the best things that I have been a part of are interviews like this one. I love being able to talk about my business whether that’s in a podcast, an article, a TV show, etc. I just like educating people on how I can help them and how preventing injury and increasing movement can keep you healthy and thriving!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was a PT tech, I was taking electrodes off of someone because they stated that they were no longer feeling it and the machine was done. I pulled off an electrode and immediately got an electric shock from the machine…turns out the machine was NOT done, or turned off. I couldn’t get the sticky electrode off my finger fast enough, so I let out a yelp and was trying to shake it off. Note to self always turn off the machine before removing the electrodes! Even when you are in a rush, you always need to take the time to double check things, especially things that can cause pain or injury to yourself or someone else!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are several people that have been instrumental in helping me and my businesses become successful. My mom has always encouraged me to do what I felt like I needed to, follow my passions, and go all in even if it is scary. Chris, the other Co-Founder of The Lax Box, has been the other half making sure we are always coming up with the best ways to do things for the lacrosse community, from social media posts, to the website, to all of the behind the scenes admin work, and so much more! We have been a great team getting lacrosse back on the map for all ages and demographics here in North Florida. Other women in medicine that are my unofficial mentors, chatting with them for advice, seeing the big things they are doing in the world. As well as women in sports, from playing to coaching to managing, they have a huge impact on my business sense. And the community at large, my patients as well as families and players within our Lax Box family, have helped us with moving locations due to landlord issues, keeping tournaments and clubs running smoothly despite pushback, and so much more.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
I think the biggest hurdle for women is finding funding and everything that goes along with running and owning a business. There are resources out there, but they are hard to come across, and it takes a lot of time to get a good understanding of how to run a business. Most of us know how to do the thing that we are opening the business for (PT, baking, cooking, making items, etc), but it’s the “running the business” part that is the hardest. Realizing that you not only have to work in the business, but you also have to work on the business, day in and day out. If lenders could connect business owners to mentors that would be very beneficial.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
Obviously more funding for women owned start ups would be great, and having a mentor of sorts to go along with the loan or grant or whatever it is that you receive. I know for me I had to go through several companies to get a loan and was denied quite a bit because of the amount of my student loans that I am still paying off. I started off with so much debt before I even began my own practice. I think if the government or lending partner sees the benefit in the business, they should do what they can to help the business thrive and not get into more debt.
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
Firstly, I think that the more women that are founders, the more equality we can receive and create for ourselves. It’s apparent that we are half of the world’s population, but we are not capitalizing on receiving half of the world’s value. And in my opinion, women are much more intuitive to the needs of what others need, and we need to explore and realize that!
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
That you are less stressed or make more money when you own your own business. This definitely does and will happen, but it takes a bit before you start to see profit that is sustainable. And you do have to put in a lot of work to get there.
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
I think if you have a passion for something and knowing that when you branch off on your own, there is no safety net, you will learn how to make things work. Not everyone has that personality to persevere and push through the hard days, weeks, or months. If you don’t like being in charge of yourself, or don’t want to be held accountable or shoulder everything that comes with being a founder, then working for yourself may not be ideal.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Stay tough but stay empathetic: No one is going to make things easy on you, especially when you first start off. I had so many doubters and people questioning that I was going to start my own clinic and then not take insurance. People will doubt and try to pull you down and change your mind, because they want to be the one doing the thing you are doing. Understand that. Understand that they are really looking up to you, that they are looking to you to see if this will work, and more often than not, they will follow your lead.
- Have a good foundation: Start off with a game plan, do your research, do your planning and understand each step of what you will need in order to make this venture successful. I worked in different PT clinics and learned how things run behind the scenes. I also learned the things I wanted to do and not do whenever I opened my own clinic. Experience is valuable, even when you have bad experiences, use them to your advantage!
- Don’t Apologize: As women we have been conditioned to say “I’m sorry” for almost everything, even when things are not our fault. Starting off sentences with “I’m sorry about…” doesn’t show caring or empathy like they want us to think it does, instead it shows that you don’t have control over your situations. You do have control, and you are allowed to make mistakes that you don’t have to apologize for if they aren’t hurting anyone. Be true to yourself and your mission, don’t apologize for being great, for being a trailblazer, or when you make others feel uncomfortable because of your knowledge or opinion or status. Own it.
- It’s ok to be serious…and not to be serious: Both are ok. There are times and places to be serious, but also let your inner you come out sometimes, be genuine. Sometimes people, even other women, and other business owners need to see that you have a side to you, that isn’t ALL about business. It’s ok to be yourself and let your true colors shine, be goofy, be funny, be adventurous, have a good time, laugh a little, it’s ok!
- Trust yourself: When you start your own business, the only person you have to rely on is yourself. There is no one coming to save you if you make mistakes, you have to learn from them on your own, no one will bail you out. You will start to learn a different level of trust for yourself and within yourself when you go through this process. You are the decision maker and at the end of the day you have to live with yourself and your decisions. You may not always choose what others want for you or want you to do, but as long as you know that it is the right decision for you, whether it turns out good or bad it doesn’t matter, you made the decision, and there is a lot to say for someone that has to do that constantly day in and day out.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I use my success everyday to make the world a better place, one person at a time. I help others find within themselves the ability to heal their bodies, how to become empowered, how to build and gain confidence, and how to be active and healthy. When you do this for enough people it is bound to make a ripple effect across the world.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would want younger people to feel confident in who they are. I would want them to be confident in movement, strength, ability, and mental strength. When they are confident and comfortable, they grow to be confident and comfortable adults that do great things out in the world.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I’d love to sit down with Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle and chat about all of the awesome things that they are doing to empower women and young girls, especially in the sports arena. Also Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe with the work they have done in elevating women in sports, women’s worth and pay in sports, and their projects to empower women’s voices.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.