Sharon Barotz | Founder, Tranquil Paws Veterinary

"I once heard a saying that people who should be in business for themselves are people who are happier working twice as hard (sometimes for less money) for themselves than they are working less for someone else.  This holds true for me.  Being an entrepreneur is a lot of work, but I am happier and more satisfied with my career and my life because of it."

How do you start your day?

I keep my morning routine brief by preparing for the day the night before.  I am not really a morning person.

Who inspires you?

Inspiration is everywhere, but I am especially inspired by my family (including my dog).

What would you tell yourself as a teenager?

Don’t stress out so much (it’s not as big a deal as you think).  It will get better.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

There is more to you than what you do.  Make sure your life is full of things other than work that bring you joy.

What do you need to get you through each day?

I need to surround myself with friendly people.  My job is stressful enough – I do not need tension between staff members. Oh, and chocolate always helps.

What are you reading?

I am a little ashamed to admit it, but I am reading romance novels on Kindle Unlimited.  They are a great break from professional journals and they allow me to basically turn off my brain and relax.

Briefly describe your business and inspiration for it.

Tranquil Paws Veterinary is a practice that offers Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Laser Therapy to canine and feline patients. We believe in an integrative approach to veterinary medicine and offer services that complement traditional veterinary practices. We treat patients in the comfort of their own homes as well as in clinical settings.

My business was inspired by my interest in and desire to practice TCVM combined with a need in the market to provide complementary and alternative treatments in a way that integrates them with traditional veterinary medicine.  I structured my business so that I can collaborate with traditional veterinarians and together, we can bring our patients the best of the east and the best of the west medical care.

How has your passion fueled your business?

I became intrigued by acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in veterinary school. Once I graduated, I worked in a private veterinary practice where I became increasingly aware of both the amazing benefits and limitations of traditional western veterinary medicine. I was seeing an increased number of older pets with chronic pain or chronic diseases that I was unable to fully treat. At that point, I worked toward certifications to become a CVA (certified veterinary acupuncturist) and offer alternative treatments.

How did you choose your current career?

From a very young age, I was interested in science, medicine, and animals. I was determined to pursue a medical career but I was unsure if I wanted to be a human doctor (MD) or a veterinarian (DVM). Eventually, my interest in animals and international travel led me to study abroad in Kenya and South Africa.  After studying abroad and spending six months studying animals in Krueger (the national park in South Africa), I decided to apply to veterinary school.

What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I was destined to become an entrepreneur.  My father was a self-employed tax and financial planner and my mom was a teacher who always wished she had gone into medicine.  From a young age I was exposed to business. I was also raised to be very independent; I was an only child raised in Manhattan.

My long-term goal was to be a boss/executive or the owner of my own business.  During my first two jobs, I learned about what I liked and didn’t like in a tradional office setting, and how I wanted to define my work life. Eventually, I decided to build my own company.

What challenges did you face in the early days of being the Founder of your own business?

As a start-up, I did not have enough money to hire inside help or outside consultants. I needed to know about skills I was unfamiliar with, such as marketing, web design and advertising. I found this to be challenging, especially during the early stages of my business when I didn’t have extra time to learn new skills and generate revenue. I had to revise my revenue expectations, take a step back and properly establish my web site, promotional tools, logo, etc. I probably took a revenue hit during those early months, but it paid off in the long run.

What would you have done differently?

I wish I recognized earlier that I was unhappy in my previous work roles. I would have decided to establish my own business sooner. I was scared of change — but change is good if you are unhappy.

What do you do outside the office to help you stay creative/productive?

I love the theater, especially musicals, and I try to see as many shows as possible with my family. I am also an avid cook and foodie with a passion for cultural and international cuisine. There is nothing more satisfying than cooking a meal for friends and family and watching their faces as they enjoy it.  I also enjoy photography and international travel and am always looking forward to my next trip!

What would you say to another woman who asked you if they should take the leap and start their own business?

Make sure it is the lifestyle you want before you jump in, quit your job and invest in a new business.  Be prepared to make sacrifices (especially in the beginning).  Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.