YOUR BUSINESS AUTHORITY

Springfield, MO

SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton

A Conversation With … Melissa Robinson

Veterinarian and Owner of The Traveling Vet LLC

Posted online

How did you get started in the veterinary industry?
It was something I always wanted to do. I was the kid who kept all the animals, took all the animals to the vet and saved the grasshoppers. I didn’t really outgrow it. I graduated from a public high school and went straight from college at Missouri State University to vet school at Mizzou. I was an associate in the Springfield area for about six years. The last four years, it was at Tender Heart Animal Clinic in Rogersville.

What tipped the scale to influence your decision to start your own veterinary practice?
One of my best friends was going through breast cancer. I was trying to be there for that and work full time, and I realized I really didn’t have that much time in the evenings and as much time to give to that as I would like. You really don’t have that much flexibility unless you’re the owner. I went over to her house to vaccinate her animals, and she was like, “This is what you need to do. You need to be a home health care vet.”

What helped you make that transition?
My mother was a home health care nurse, so that was kind of an easy transition to figure out from the logistics of it. I started the plan from there. In September of 2016, I started the business. It was just me and, at this point, I have a tech, Jamie Patterson, and she is my right and left hand.

What was your startup capital?
I got a fund of less than $100,000 from Springfield First Community Bank.

What’s been your greatest challenge since starting The Traveling Vet?
The business side of things. The medicine comes easy. I did not have a head for business, so that’s something that I’ve had to develop and have had to have help with and find people who I can bounce questions off of.

After changing to a home care veterinarian and starting your own practice, what was something you had to adjust to?
Going into people’s homes, initially, was a bit odd to me because I was used to people coming to me in an impersonal environment. It’s much more of an intimate experience being in one’s home, but that winds up being much more of a benefit. It’s so friendly and the animals are comfortable.

What’s been your greatest victory?
When I was able to have the business support me without doing relief work. I would cover for other veterinarians when they needed a vacation or sick day. I’m also proud of the home euthanasias that we do. It’s just much more of a consistent, peaceful experience than what I was able to give owners in the clinic.

What advice do you have for women who are interested in beginning their own startup business?
Self-evaluation. You need to really be honest with yourself as far as what you do and don’t know. And then find people who have the opposite strengths and weaknesses as you.

Melissa Robinson can be reached at 417travelingvet@gmail.com.

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