This month’s business minds interview is with Renae Taylor from CPS (clinical psychology services), who is doing an amazing job that has a huge impact on our community.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? I grew up in Sydney and completed my undergraduate and postgraduate studies there, whilst working in related positions.
I wanted a break from busy Sydney life and thought I would try and work up this way, have a bit of a rest and spend some quality time with my family. My parents had moved from Sydney to Bohnock 12 years previously, and they were followed by my older brother – so this area had felt like home for a long time. Well 14 years on, I am still here! I am now raising my own family, partnered with a country boy who has told me firmly he has absolutely no intention of ever living in a city. I agree wholeheartedly, and our home is now the go to house for my Sydney friends needing time out of the city.
How long have you been practicing as a clinical psychologist?
I have been practicing as a clinical psychologist for 15 years now. I really am one of those annoying people who love their job. Every day we are working with lovely country people helping them to cope with life’s challenges and to have better quality of life. It is very real and also satisfying.
When did you make the move to becoming a business owner?
Initially, I worked at the Mayo Hospital, helping to provide inpatient and outpatient services. I had come from working in a concrete bunker at Bankstown Community Health and I was amazed that I could see rabbits jumping in the grass from the consulting room! Nature has always been my therapy, so I loved country life straight away. This area is nothing short of spectacular. Very soon I had more work than I could manage and I had to either hire someone to help, or run! I took a deep breath, found some great mentoring, did lots of short courses and started CPS. I also have to acknowledge our Office Manager, Tanya Simmonds. She has been with me since those very early days and she has been absolutely instrumental in helping me to get, and keep, this business running. Learning how to run a business was, and still is, a steep learning curve. Running a business and the field of psychology has that in common; they are both dynamic, and you have to keep striving and up-skilling.
As a business owner, I also enjoy and feel passionate about providing a warm and supportive work environment for other psychologists. Our job can be quite demanding. Being able to provide flexible working hours and letting clinicians have professional autonomy in their practice means a better quality of professional life and a happier workplace. We have a great team; we are likeminded and all strive for a cohesive, collaborative workplace with no icky politics! We are a client-focused practice – that is, our client care always comes first. I enjoy working in a supportive and ethical environment, and I know others do too.
How much time do you spend between working with clients and working on your business?
This continues to be a bit of a work in progress, to be honest. Like many working mums, juggling work life and home life is something I am always working on. Currently I spend 2 – 3 full days doing clinical work with clients and 2 – 3 days doing all aspects of running a business. Notice how that doesn’t add up! All the small business owners out there are nodding about now. There is just always so much to do. I never ever get to the end of my To Do list. I also try and fit in the odd four day week to stay emotionally well and to be present for my kids. So the juggle continues …
You’ve just moved to a new location. What does this bring to the business?
Moving into a purpose built space has been quite transformative for the business and for me personally as a business owner. For many years we had been bursting at the seams in a smaller but lovely old building. We desperately needed to hire more clinicians; we had long waiting lists, and we just didn’t have the space to grow. We were all sharing multiple rooms, and I didn’t even have a permanent space to work from in order to run the business! This was definitely making our business inefficient.
The delay in getting our own space was because it was near impossible to meet our needs. We needed a very big space, lots of natural light and, of course, it needed to be dirt-cheap, as like nearly all small businesses, we have a very tight cash flow. What we needed was a miracle!
Looking back, we were all so very patient, and frankly – I work with terrific people. We finally found the right space after harassing poor local real estate agents for years! It was all made possible because my partner was able to look after the fit-out of the new building, saving us a great deal of time and expense. We also managed to buy this premises, so we achieved something I thought we would never be able to do. This was a big milestone for our small business.
The new building feels spacious and welcoming. Tanya, Trudy and Caitlyn, who look after the CPS office, can now work their magic whilst not being on top of each other. For our 14 psychologists, we now all have our own rooms with natural light and lovely views, room for all our files, computers and resources. We can personalise these spaces and make them comfortable. This is a huge leap in the quality of our work life, as we spend all day sitting in a room either with a client or completing associated mountains of paperwork. We are also able to hire more clinicians, with varying expertise, to cope with our referrals and to service our GPs better.
Do you see any interesting trends happening in our area?
Just in the time I have lived permanently in the Manning, the mental health landscape has changed enormously. There is much better acceptance of mental health in general. I think it is becoming easier for people to ask for help. Mental health is now considered more like just another aspect of health. That is exactly how I think about it; it is just health.
There are also more local organisations now providing good mental health services. Medicare and other government funding has enabled our service and other services to attract experienced and qualified psychologists to work and live here. It sure helps that the Manning Valley and Great Lakes area is so beautiful and offers a terrific quality of life. Who wouldn’t want to live here!