Melissa Cram, owner of Bradenton Community Acupuncture, originally considered medical school to become an emergency room doctor. However, she chose to study traditional Chinese medicine over Western medicine.
"I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that much time in school and accumulate that much debt," she said. "In the end, I didn’t agree enough with Western medicine to make that much of a commitment of time and money. I saw the great things the acupuncturist I worked with was doing and knew that's what I wanted to do."
After completing her medical education, Cram opened an acupuncture practice with some partners which was short lived. She then found a community based practice that she took over when the founder decided to move away.
"We offer affordable acupuncture for everyone in a community style clinic," Cram explained. "There are multiple reclining chairs in two rooms so most of the time your treatment will be in same room as other patients. Everyone is quiet or mostly sleeping. The community practice lets me offer a sliding payment scale and I'm still the only community acupuncture practice in Bradenton. At other practices, you'll pay at least $100 for first time, then average $70-120 for a return visit which gets expensive. My scale is $25-$60 and the payments are on the honor system so you pay what you can afford."
Cram's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is patience and passion. "It's going to take a lot of work," she said. "Stick to it and be patient and the growth is there. Find what you're passionate about that will fuel the tough times to keep you moving forward. I sometimes thought I was crazy to run my own business, but the passion I have is that I believe everyone can benefit from acupuncture. Also, find someone who has a successful business and get guidance from them."