Starting a Personal Growth Business
Interview with John Khoury, Founder and Director of Liquic
Finding a therapist or other personal growth professional can be a difficult quest. John Khoury used his experience in technology and psychology to help connect professionals with clients.
Interview with John Khoury, Founder and Director of Liquic.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
We are providing a resource to people who are looking to change something major in their life. Want something to be different? Go to Liquic. There you will find information to get you started and a directory of experts who can help you - coaches, counselors, dietitians, etc. Liquic, which is short for the Life Quality Improvement Center, just added the live one-on-one online sessions with those experts to make this step that much easier. Ultimately, we serve both sides of the equation - the consumers and the professionals. We provide the information and directory to the consumers and we give professionals an extensive set of options for presenting themselves to the public, as well as an extra dimension to their practice with regards to the online sessions.
When did you start the business?
In 2006. There was a good bit of research involved with the technology.We started in Holland just to get our feet wet and started reaching out to the US and beyond in 2009.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I was freelancing in IT for big corporations, making backend systems. I studied psychology in college and have really been into personal development in the last few years, so Liquic was a great way to combine the two. This is my first real business. I've had ideas and made half-hearted attempts to start them, but this is the first one I've really committed to.
How did you come up with your business idea?
"I'm not just the president, I'm also a customer". I decided to see a therapist many years ago and found it hard to find one. You either just saw their credentials and contact info or it was a bit too New Age for me. I also decided to go back to school and study Psychology. In thinking about becoming a psychologist, I knew that I would want to see American clients online (since I'm American and my Dutch isn't that great). After quickly seeing that I wouldn't become a psychologist, the idea came up to create such a service for other therapists.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
Yes! Like many other entrepreneurs, I initially saw this as a waste of time. The thinking was that the business plan is for investors, not for entrepreneurs. Why write it if I wasn't looking for investors? But it is an invaluable tool. I learned from someone that the best part of seeking investors is the fact that they will grill you with a barage of critical questions. Those questions are the equivalent of having all those experienced suits teaching you about building a major league business. Well, the business plan can mirror this process to a certain degree. If you are critical about your business plan it will shine a light on all the holes in your business, all the weakspots. If the business plan is watertight, the vision will also be watertight. Confidence in your business will ensue...
What outside resources were helpful for you?
LinkedIn! What an age we live in when all the people you need are a few clicks away. You can hire the best people in their field to give you advice - people who have already done what you're trying to do. Notice like 80% of the profiles in LinkedIn say that they are up for "New Ventures". Just shoot them an email saying "I would like to hire you as a consultant". Even former presidents will respond.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
I expected to be helped and led along the way by people who knew more about my business than I do. I would ask them and they would tell me what to do. You eventually realize that no one knows more about your business than you do. That's a frightening thought. "I have to make all the decisions myself". And the decisions take up more time, mental energy, and guts than you would expect.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
It all takes longer and costs more than your estimates. It's OK.
Perseverance will get you through it. It is true that the first and biggest step is your commitment to start in the first place - to start and to see it through.
It helps to work off your current strengths and skills. I never could have set this up if I didn't know a lot about web applications AND psychology.
Get a clear vision of what you want 5-10 years down the road and take your time creating it - it's important. And it's OK if it sounds big and audacious - allow yourself delusions of grandeur. The more concise the vision, the easier it will be to make decisions and move forward step by step. It can change, as long as it is crystal clear in your head.
Read some good business books to get an idea of how successful people think. You want to be one of them, right?
Keep a journal - write down important events and milestones as they happen. Great to look back on. Writing is a great way to organize your thoughts.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
A resounding NO! Everything has worked out perfectly according to (insert deity here)'s plan. That is not to say that there have been no mistakes - quite the contrary. But all mistakes are an educational gift and that's part of the plan.
Learn from your mistakes. Great advice. Thanks for your time, John.
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