June Tait loves what she does, and it shows. Nineteen years ago, she combined her love of anatomy and her ability to help people and opened Scarborough Physical Therapy, a healing center that works with everyone from infants and children, to athletes and seniors. “The reason I opened this clinic is that I really believe in the value of manual therapy, [which] works with the body’s structure. If you can improve the body’s structure, then you can improve its function. And I just love working with the body, I love helping people help themselves.”
Tait considered starting a clinic with a friend and coworker when they felt like time parameters for healing were too restrictive at the hospital they worked at.
“We looked at each other sort of joking going, ‘Why don’t we?’ And we did.”
Since then her practice has grown significantly, and she now has 13 employees, one of whom has been with her for 18 years. A great part of Tait’s success lies in her concern for her employees and her following through with flexible hours and a welcoming workplace, especially for women.
“I truly wanted to create a work environment where women can be both really good mothers and really good professionals. I felt a lot of companies talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk. We have very creative scheduling here. Twelve of the 13 employees are women, so I’ve always said I didn’t feel that anybody should have to miss something like their child’s performance if it was in the middle of the day. We sometimes have split day schedules or early schedules so parents can get their children off the bus in the afternoon.
“Happy people are happy employees,” she says.
What were your most important needs in getting started?
My most important needs were support, having someone to tell you that they believe in you, that you can do this – because it is scary. When you start planning to open a business and actually bring that to fruition, there’s a lot more work to it than you think there is. My parents actually came and helped me clean the office space, hang blinds, and that’s huge, that’s not little. And then from the community – I worked with a local community bank at the time, who lent me money for funding, and I was told to have your business plan and be prepared to be rejected, and so I was very surprised when the first bank that I went to funded my business. Supporting local Maine people really mattered to them, so I’ll forever be grateful to them. I don’t believe that I needed to know everything. What I did was I surrounded myself with amazing people who could help me with what I wanted, from my accountants to my lawyer. It was wonderful, I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad I was younger at the time that I did it.
What was there about your upbringing that gave you the courage to venture out on your own?
My mom and dad had very strong work ethics. They raised six kids – my mom was one of nine, my dad was one of 11 -– so they were not afraid of hard work, and they raised their children not to be afraid of hard work. I myself have a strong work ethic and I love just rolling up my sleeves and diving right in. They also believe not only in hard work, but in honesty and really being honest to who you were and doing what you needed to do in life. So I will always be grateful for that strong work ethic.
What do you think the advantages are of being a female entrepreneur?
I love that I can be a role model for my children. I have a daughter and I feel that it’s important to show her, as well as my son, that you can be a business owner, a professional, and be a good mom. I’m there for all their track meets and games and plays and I think it’s a beautiful thing for them to witness that they do have a strong mom who’s not afraid of hard work and doing what it takes to be successful. And successful is a very personal term to everybody. I feel that I would have been successful if I started my business and it had not worked. To me that’s also success compared with the person who is not trying it at all and is just wondering, “what if, what if?” Being a female entrepreneur, I just love being a strong role model as a woman for my children.
What advice would you give an aspiring woman entrepreneur?
Do it! Do it, don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t. Surround yourself with a support system of family and friends who love you, as well as professionals who know more about owning a business than you do, because there’s a lot to it. Surround yourself with positive energy and support and knowledge and go for it because you’re successful either way. If the business does well, fantastic. If it doesn’t do well but you took the risk, you’ve learned something from that.
Q If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently?
No. I try to lead from the heart. I’m very much a people manager so I treat people with respect and love and kindness and I just think that’s the only way to do it. And my employees have all stayed, 75 percent of my workforce has been here over 10 years, which is pretty phenomenal. I feel very fortunate; I feel that we have created a family here. We actually support each other outside of work – when somebody is going through a crisis we make meals and things like that, we call it our “Scarborough Physical Therapy family,” and it makes coming to work a joy. All of us here love what we do and it shows. You can have a bad day, but there’s always someone who’s in a good mood who’ll leave a little something on your desk or a joke or a laugh, you know. The laughter’s infectious and you’ll hear it throughout the clinic. And our patients really like it.
– Taryn Yudaken