Dominion Psychological Associates LLC
Michelle Lankford-Johnson was ready to launch Dominion Psychological Associates (DPA) in 2021 — pandemic or not. Fortunately, the Hampton Roads SBDC and Associate Director Debra Farley were on hand to help her establish that business.
“Debra Farley and the SBDC were heaven sent,” Michelle affirms.
In actuality, it was an earthly messenger, Michelle’s sister, who pointed her toward the SBDC after attending a class at Thomas Nelson Community College. “My sister told me the person teaching that class could tell me everything I needed to know about running a business,” Michelle notes. “I called Debra, made an appointment, and that was it!”
Michelle’s initial meeting with Debra began with crafting a plan. “Debra told me, “Number one is always a business plan,’” Michelle recalled. “Debra was very direct about that and a lot of other things — that’s what I like about her.”
Along with discussion of a business plan, Michelle received practical advice on how to get started. “We talked about how to register a business with the city,” Michelle explains. “Debra also made sure I knew who was important to have on my team — a banker, lawyer, CPA, and bookkeeper — things like that.”
Following the SBDC’s advice, Michelle registered her business last September. “From September to June 2021, I worked with the SBDC doing webinars and getting the groundwork done, so I could launch the business,” Michelle explains. “In grad school, they taught us a lot about social work but, then when I got a license, I suddenly realized — there’s a business part to this. I feel blessed to have help from the SBDC.”
Currently, Michelle is working with the SBDC to complete her business plan. “With Debra’s help, I’m going through the business plan to make sure I’ll be able to explain it,” Michelle says. “Once that’s done, I plan to apply to the city for funds to help with the set-up costs.”
Recently, Debra introduced Michelle to the SWaM (Small, Women-Owned, and Minority-Owned) business program. “I qualify for each area of SWaM,” Michelle notes. “There are benefits in that program, and I plan to take advantage of them.”
As a counselor herself, Michelle especially appreciates the business counseling she’s received from the SBDC. “When you hit that brick wall and don’t know which way to go next, having someone there to tell you the right way to go is extremely helpful,” she adds.
Michelle is already spreading the word about her number one resource — the SBDC. “You need a good foundation when you start a business,” she concludes. “The SBDC is an excellent resource to get you through those important first steps and be confident about the future.”