Grays Harbor chiropractor nails five-year plan with help from SBDC

Sean Spaulding & Erik Stewart

Sean Spaulding & Erik Stewart

WESTPORT, Wash.–The typical path for a newly licensed chiropractor is to become a junior associate in someone else’s office. That wasn’t the path Sean Spaulding took.

Five years ago, with graduation looming, he heard that a physicians’ group was trying to recruit a chiropractor to rent space in their medical building in Westport, a town of about 2,000 people at the mouth of Grays Harbor; he wanted to be that chiropractor.

Figuring he’d need a bank loan for start-up costs, he started working on his business plan and contacted the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for free, one-on-one small business advising.

Every bank said no at that time, so he continued working on his business plan, continued meeting with Erik Stewart, his SBDC business advisor, and he sold his television to pay for a used chiropractic table and got to work.

Three years later, in 2012, Stewart opened his Outlook account to find this email from Spaulding:

“You helped explode my company, taking it from a grassroots effort to a fully-fledged respectable corporation. With your help I was able to go from zero employees to four, and grow our revenue from $72,000 a year, to $250,000 a year. 

“You have addressed our marketing shortfalls, human resource considerations, business planning, and all of the little stuff between the lines that as a new entrepreneur I never even considered. This email is LONG overdue. Thank you again for all of your help on and off the business. It has truly been life changing.” 

Now, not yet 30, Spaulding is on the cusp of opening a second practice in an upscale community near Seattle. The new clinic, which he’s opening with a friend from chiropractic school, will be more than three times larger than his existing clinic and will employ eight to 10 people.

“We will be surrounded by the type of clients who need the services we provide,” Spaulding said. While Spaulding has treated a diverse clientele in Westport, his target demographic are people engaged in competitive sports or high-intensity recreational pursuits who want to learn how to help their body heal itself through exercise and movement.

In the five years since earning his doctor of chiropractic, Spaulding has been relentless in not only building his business, but building his expertise in helping clients overcome injuries or chronic pain and avoid re-injuring their bodies as they perform at peak ability.

Just as Spaulding works one-on-one with his clients, he has benefitted from working one-on-one with Stewart.

“It wasn’t just generic information,” Spaulding said. “He actually took the time to understand my business and what I needed to move forward.”

Spaulding had ambitious plans from the start.

“Westport was always the test for me,” Spaulding said. “The plan was to see if I could make something happen in this community and grow from there.” He remains committed to the Westport community and his clients there, he said, but his five-year goal was to open an expansion clinic. And, with the help of his SBDC advisor he’s doing just that.

“He’s helped me every step of the way,” Spaulding said.

SBDC advisor Erik Stewart and Dr. Sean Spaulding, D.C.