When people talk about their life’s calling or true purpose, Cate’s passion for healing others through chiropractic care emanates from her being.
Not only has Cate Swillinger owned and opened 3 clinics in Spain, she also graduated as one of the first students from the Barcelona College of Chiropractic, and now serves as a faculty lecturer at her alma mater. After more than 25 years working in the field, Cate continues to inspire other chiropractors, students and entrepreneurs through education, mentoring and consulting.
At Good Karma Works, our mission is to provide our services and support to like-minded wellness entrepreneurs like Cate, which is why we were excited to speak with her today. We talked about what it’s like to become your own boss, the importance of having a strong digital presence and the purpose-driven questions that all professionals should be asking themselves.
Her story and advice is relatable to anyone who may be contemplating taking the leap as an entrepreneur or to those who have already jumped in!
We love to inspire other wellness entrepreneurs here at Good Karma Works. Can you tell your story of how you branched off from working in a clinic with other practitioners to opening your own business?
I had been working in the chiropractic industry for 20 years on the administrative end and as a chiropractic assistant before deciding I wanted to attend chiropractic school. When I finished my studies, I wanted the gift of working with another chiropractor to get my actual hands-on experience. I worked for a couple of years as an associate in a great office in Barcelona, and after doing a market study analysis, we saw there was a neighborhood between our two office locations where many of our patients were from but where no chiropractors were located. So, based on good business, I wanted to open where there was no competition but where I knew there was a market for what I did. After I felt like I had gained the confidence and experience I needed as an associate, I came to a place where I knew it was time for me to move on. And that decision was based literally on the market study analysis and the desire to be my own boss.
What has been the biggest benefit you’ve experienced from taking the leap into being a solo entrepreneur?
I’d have to say hands down, I love being my own boss! I recognize that I’m a very strong personality and not the optimal candidate for being an employee, so the biggest benefit for me is getting to be my own boss.
What has been the most difficult part of your journey as a wellness entrepreneur running your own business?
I think there are two things I want to mention. First, when most people go into the wellness industry, like myself, they go into it because they want to help people be proactive in their own health. Chiropractic for me is one way that people can get healthy and I base my care on finding the cause of my patients’ problems and working with them as a team. We define which of those causes are ones that they can control and which ones are ones that I am going to work on. This is ideologically great, however most people want a quick solution to a problem that may have been 40 years in the making. So the most difficult challenge for me is realizing that the majority of people aren’t really into preventive care but rather come to me because something hurts and they want the pain to go away.
The second challenge has been that I’m in an area that is economically very blue-collar. And I realized that something as major as COVID-19 or as minor as the summer holiday in Spain makes you have to frequently pivot your business. The hardest thing about being a freelancer or running your own business here is that you constantly have to be proactive in order to keep the business full of new clients. It’s the flip-side of being your own boss. Yes, it’s great, but you have to be the driver.
What self-care practices do you integrate into your routine in order to stay balanced and healthy after a full day of treating patients?
I call them my 5 pillars of health: eat well, sleep well, good posture, good exercise and be happy. And I also get chiropractic adjustments! Good neurologic communication is the base of those pillars. I find that sometimes after a long day it can be hard to eat well, which sometimes means cheese and crackers with some fruit. And yes, sometimes too much wine! But I keep those wellness pillars at the forefront of my mind and I’m forgiving of myself when I don’t always stick to them. I also love riding my bike to and from work which is a great de-stressor at the end of the day.
How has your website continued to evolve with the growth of your business?
Reflected in that feeling of my website being alive, I like that I can update it need by need as we grow. For example, something like staff changes where I can upload new photos of our team. Or when we reached a new point in our business where we were able to add an online booking feature which has helped me stay more modern and keep up with the client demand. I also really like the maintenance packages that Good Karma Works offers as this has been a big relief and feels like insurance for my digital presence. I prefer to focus my energy on running my business, so it’s nice to know that someone else is handling the maintenance, security and updating of my site.
We absolutely love businesses that share their expertise and passion for their craft with their community of eager learners! Can you tell us a bit more about how you coach and mentor other entrepreneurs?
Yes! As part of my mentoring, I always ask my clients to read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey because I love all 7 habits. The one I always refer back to with my clients is to begin with the end in mind. I’ve seen it over and over in my life and in my clients’ lives. When you’re clear about what you want, everything unfolds from that place and it’s easier to work from there when you can keep a vision of the end goal.
I ask my clients to answer these questions for themselves: What do I want? Where am I going? What is the end that I want to keep in sight? I get a lot of people who want to start a business without knowing their reason or what’s beyond that desire. Once they can answer those questions, the coaching unfolds itself.
And from a more logistical perspective, after having opened so many offices here in Barcelona myself over the past 28 years. I kind of naturally evolved into this path of helping other entrepreneurs, particularly young grads, expats and people who don’t have other resources in Spain. There’s a checklist for how to open a business here and I have good resources and contacts to cover everything. I help them “dot-the-I’s” and “cross-the-T’s.”
Are there any other words of advice you’d like to share with those who may be thinking of creating their own dream business?
Absolutely do it! The only thing I would say is to know whether you’re a driver or a passenger. In a perfect world, if your business is a car, do you prefer to be the driver or the passenger? If you know you’re a driver, open on your own and don’t necessarily worry about having partners. And if you’re a passenger, you can still open your own business but know when it’s time to delegate to others. Be honest about which of the two you are and be clear about having your end sight in mind.
Want to know more about Cate?