Because of her own family’s experiences with autism, Brit Harger knows firsthand the struggle parents go through to find caring and comfortable therapy options for children with special needs. In 2013, Harger teamed up with Adrianne Smith to open Creative Behavior Solutions, LLC, an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) clinic that improves the social, academic, and life skills of children and young adults with developmental disabilities.
With degrees in psychology, both Harger and Smith are certified behavior analysts and have considerable experience in ABA. Guided by a philosophy that every child has the right to learn, Creative Behavior Solutions works with toddlers, adolescents, and teens. The clinic is multifaceted in its approach, with a staff that is willing to work with people on-site at their offices, at home, in schools, or in the community.
The Path to Success
Harger and Smith started Creative Behavior Solutions, LLC to bridge the gap between treatments and family members. Children and adolescents in the program have developmental disabilities and other behavior-related difficulties. It was important to the cofounders that parents, caregivers, and even siblings be as involved in a client’s treatment as the practitioners.
“The highest points of our business have been the clients we have discharged because they no longer need ABA therapy,” say Harger and Smith. “We also celebrate the small steps, such as the first words of a 3-year-old and the joy on a parent’s face when they hear their voice for the first time.”
How SCORE Helped
The journey has not always been easy for Harger and Smith. When they first opened the business, they felt bullied by big companies. “Insurance companies would not allow us to be in-network, and Workers’ Compensation was nearly impossible to get, because of the nature of our work,” say Harger and Smith.
SCORE mentors Mats Bengston and Keith Knowles helped Smith and Harger overcome some of these obstacles. “They coached us through the hurdles, provided us with a huge network, and taught us to think like business owners. Nearly everything we’ve learned about business, we were guided to from Mats and Keith,” say Harger and Smith.
They continue, “With their help, our business has become one we are truly proud of. We’ve grown from just the owners to over 25 employees. We have moved from being a home-based company to a 2,500-square-foot clinic and are now moving into a 5,000-square-foot clinic. We have utilized [SCORE’s] network, their classes, and knowledge.”
Harger and Smith say they have met with Bengston and Knowles more than 50 times since they first started Creative Behavior Solutions, and continue to meet with them on a monthly basis.
Creative Behavior Solutions Today
With the assistance of their SCORE mentors, Harger and Smith have doubled their business each year they have been in operation — and Creative Behavior Solutions has developed a great reputation within the community it serves.
“The fact they’ve come from that germination point to a flowering, profitable, growing business is extraordinary,” says mentor Keith Knowles.
SCORE also helped the cofounders secure a business line of credit and launch a preschool preparatory program. “We have grown from the two of us to over 20 employees,” say Harger and Smith.
Creative Behavior Solutions is the 2018 SCORE Awards winner for Outstanding Women-Owned Business, presented by Kimco Realty.
Paying it Forward
Harger and Smith believe if you have a dream, you should follow it. But, they say, that doesn’t mean you should jump in without a detailed plan. “Being successful (by whatever your definition is) happens when you make a plan, set goals, and persevere. Do your homework, find resources in your community, tap into your network, and utilize SCORE!” say, Harger and Smith.
The entrepreneurs also advise startup business owners to set some boundaries, which means taking breaks when they need them and setting aside time for the important things in life. Most of all: “Have courage and be proud of yourself and your dream. What you are about to do, is absolutely worth it.”