Wilson Villanueva, founder of North Star Counseling of Central Florida, LLC, launched the company as a result of his desire to combine the diverse skills he learned in his varied background.
"When I moved to Florida from Puerto Rico, I started working with as a child protective investigator for Department of Children and Families," he said. "At the same time, I got my Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I moved on to become a guidance counselor and got a second job as a therapist because I wanted more clinical experience. Doing two things at once gave me a wide-scope view on child welfare in the community. I then earned a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership and became a professor. I wanted to put all my experience in one place and North Star came out of that."
North Star is a community behavioral health agency that serves the community in multiple locations. It sees patients in their office, their home and in their school for behavioral health and psychosocial rehabilitation.
"We serve mostly patients who are three years old and older," Villanueva explained. "Our expertise is in children and families but we also serve adults. We believe in guiding patients to success. Many behavioral health providers seek to decrease symptoms through therapy alone. We have found it to be more effective and faster to combine therapy with skill improvement. When we increase skills also, that creates stronger individuals and stronger communities and families."
Villanueva credits his staff, CareerSource Central Florida and the UCF Business Incubator in Osceola County with helping the business succeed.
"My staff has been dedicated from the beginning," he said. "We are a family oriented business. My wife and sister-in-law work with us and the rest are considered family. It wasn't just me that created this business. Everyone put hard work into it."
Villanueva's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is that you need faith, belief and support.
"Trust in God and pray," he said. "Make sure you have the support of your family. The staff that you bring aboard is critical. They need to believe in your product and company values. Don't do it for the money. You have to believe in what you're doing."