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Running a business

Nicholas Hardy is helping people grow

Name: Nicholas Hardy 

Location: Houston, TX

Pronouns: He/Him

Business: Nic Hardy Counseling Services—a private counseling practice that focuses on relationships for adults, individuals and couples. 

Describe yourself in three words: Authentic, adventurous, relaxed

Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started? 

I decided to start my own business because I wanted to have autonomy in meeting the needs of those who sought counseling, specifically those in the African American community. As a business owner, I can go to where people are, without restriction or having to follow a predetermined path. 

I have been counseling for over 10 years, but I started my practice during the pandemic. I got started by first envisioning the look and feel of my practice. If it were my first time going to counseling, who would I feel comfortable talking to and what would I like to know about them? These were the questions that helped guide my overall philosophy of providing real counseling for real life. It also helped in the creation of my website, which was essential because everything was online. After this, the next steps were about reaching out to people and trying to market my services. 

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year? 

I have learned that when given the space, people want to be completely open and transparent. However, they must first feel safe and know that they will not be judged. You can say it, but someone has to trust that this will be the case in their interactions with you. 

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner? 

The most surprising thing I learned about being a business owner is that most of what we fear never comes true. 

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I am operating in my purpose with unlimited possibilities.

How does running your own business make you feel? 

It makes me feel like I am operating in my purpose with unlimited possibilities. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome? 

I am working to balance counseling and the marketing aspect of business. The more I counsel and invest in those I work with, the less time I have to market my services to others who may be in need. 

What challenges do you feel are unique to Black small business owners? 

One of the challenges unique to Black small business owners is successfully capturing market space as a minority. Particularly in counseling—other groups have a larger audience and consumer base. 

What are your proudest moments? 

My proudest moments are seeing individuals grow and heal relationally. Of course, this looks different for different people, but to be a part of someone’s journey in life and know that you contributed to their success in a meaningful way is invaluable. 

What are the next big plans you have for your business? 

I am currently working on a podcast for people who don’t go to therapy. More to come, but I plan to launch officially in early June. 

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going? 

My 5-year-old daughter inspires me. She brightens my day and is always in a good mood (unless she doesn’t get her way). 

How can Black business owners support each other and their community? 

Black businesses can support each other by partnering and patronizing each other when applicable. There are so many Black businesses that we are unaware of, so celebrating each other is always a tremendous way to offer support. 

What advice would you give to other Black business owners just starting out? 

My advice would be to keep going, and to remember it is bigger than you. There will be times when you are discouraged and feel defeated, but by persevering, you are opening the doors for others in the future. 

How do you make time for yourself while running a business?

Personally, this area is a work in progress. However, I make time for myself by safeguarding family time and minimizing screen time. Although my business is not conducted on the phone, it’s easy to get lost online and miss important moments. 

What advice would you give new business owners about balancing work and mental or physical health?

There will always be more work to do. Literally, by simply acknowledging this, you give yourself permission to invest in other important areas of life (like mental and physical health). This also frees you from the burden of feeling like you need to get “everything” done today. 

What is the single most important healthy habit you've developed that you feel makes you more successful? Why?

I am an avid reader. I read several books a month and have done so since I graduated high school. This has really given me a different perspective on a variety of topics and created a more well-balanced approach when supporting people in counseling. 

What’s your “power song” and why?

“Freedom” by Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar. Why this song? 1) It’s Beyonce and 2) I live in Houston (H-Town). 

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