Joshua Kirby started working with the Penn State SBDC in while finalizing a master’s in counseling from Penn State University. At the time, he was working as a full-time professor at Penn State but planned to change careers upon graduation. As Josh watched the pandemic unravel in 2020 and 2021, he had the idea to open a private career counseling office in State College. Leaving his job to become a small business owner was a big step, but Josh was prepared to use all the resources available to ensure his success.
When he first met with business consultant Elizabeth Hay, Josh was in the initial phases of writing a business plan. His early preparations made it easy for Elizabeth to identify the resources Josh needed. The two met bi-weekly; during that time, Elizabeth helped Josh refine his business plan, create realistic financial projections, and align a “team” consisting of an accountant, insurance agent, and banker suited to assist his business. She also referred him to the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic to establish an LLC and two DBAs he planned build out in the future.
In the final phase of planning, Josh and Elizabeth discussed establishing social media channels, creating a website, evaluating SEO, addressing bookkeeping, understanding client intake and billing, and acquiring and establishing an office space. By mid-August 2021, Josh was ready to turn in his letter of resignation and officially open his business.
AutumnSpring Counseling is a private counseling practice focused on strategically integrating professional, academic, and mental health topics to help clients evaluate themselves, their careers, and their wellness. In a college town, Josh sees a high demand for his services. The pandemic has also forced many individuals to evaluate career changes in relation to overall happiness.
Josh says, “My goal is to counsel, encourage, and coach people to make the changes that they want to make to live better and live well.”
In August of 2021, AutumnSprings Counseling had a soft opening, and throughout September, Josh slowly started accepting clients and testing his business processes. The Penn State SBDC team assisted in the planning of an official ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate Josh’s career transition and success.
“The SBDC linked me to a statewide network of experts who guided me through the critical steps of business startup,” says Josh. My consultant is an experienced business owner who is actively engaged in the community’s network of entrepreneurs. Her knowledge and connections offered me much-needed guidance during a time of uncertainty.”
Following the successful ribbon cutting, Josh received significant media attention as a new business owner with a dedication to helping people find a balance in career to pursue passion with purpose.