Loans, Losses, & Lawsuits – How Tenacity Got Her Through It
Updated: Feb 8, 2019
Entrepreneur: Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM, CVA, CVCP, CVFT (Go ‘head girl)
Degree: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois (Illinois, USA)
One Word That Describes You: Tenacious
How We Met: Can’t you see the resemblance? (My mom)
The Case Study: How does a small town book worm turn into a renowned veterinarian with 50,000 Facebook followers, 4 books, and 3 businesses? Well, Dr. Morgan’s story started like most veterinarians: she had a love for animals and wanted to save them all. After graduating at the top of her class in high school, and top ten in veterinary school, she decided to move back to her home state, New Jersey, in 1984 to start working at a small animal practice. At that point, she was drowning in student loan debt and 25% of her paychecks went towards her students loans.
5 years later, in 1989, she was pregnant with her first child when her doctors put her on bed rest. She had a combined 4 weeks of sick and vacation time at the clinic, and once the 4 weeks were up, she got a call from the clinic owner who fired her before she even had the baby. Insanity. She then hired a lawyer to combat the non-compete of her previous contract and won the right to practice within a 10 mile radius in New Jersey. At this point, she tried to start her first business and open her own practice, but after spending $40,000 in fees and startup costs, the zoning board turned her down. Ouch.
After her first business venture failed, in 1990, she started working as a relief veterinarian for various practices in the area.
In 1992, she was given the opportunity to purchase 30% of a practice called Clayton Veterinary Associates. She saw how much more her current and previous bosses made as owners and how they were able to travel the world, even though she was the one putting in the most hours and was still struggling to pay bills. Because of this, Dr Morgan decided to borrow $20,000 from her grandfather to purchase 30% of the CVA business, and agreed to pay him back $1,000 per month.
While the CVA business was plugging along, Dr. Morgan started another business venture. She purchased an equine facility in 2000 for boarding, training, and showing horses. This was quite the profitable business, with almost 100 lesson students, until she inevitably decided to retire from the physical labor of the equine industry in 2006.
In 2005, Dr Morgan was given the opportunity to buy 30% of the actual CVA properties, becoming the landlord for the veterinary clinic and rental house on the same land. She took the offer, and borrowed $300,000 for the purchase and some much needed renovations to the buildings.
In 2007, Dr. Morgan took out another loan, this time for $700,000 (that’s right we are up to $1 million in loans) to purchase the remaining 70% of the CVA business. In Dr Morgan’s first year as full owner, she spent extravagantly and almost ran the business into bankruptcy. She didn’t know how to budget, pay herself, and many of the other business leadership responsibilities. She then decided to pay $75,000 for consultants to revamp her business and teach her proper management skills, which thankfully repaid itself easily and drove the business forward into profitability.
Due to the new found success of CVA, in 2010, Dr Morgan decided to start her second brick and mortar business, Churchtown Veterinary Associates. This was a smaller clinic in a more rural area, so it never really gained traction and has been net neutral for Dr Morgan.
In 2013, Dr. Morgan’s consultants recommended she start creating a larger social media presence. That was when she started her professional Facebook page and began gaining traction branding herself. You see, Dr. Morgan isn’t your typical veterinarian. She is a holistic veterinarian with credentials in acupuncture, chiropractic, and food therapy. She uses a mixture of traditional western and eastern medicine to treat the whole pet and can solve medical mysteries that many other veterinarians cannot.
Shortly there after, she realized that she had a unique outlook and knowledge base that was not being shared throughout the pet industry, so she decided to start writing books.
In 2014, she published her first book, From Needles to Natural, with a hybrid publishing company and she has since self published three more books, What’s for Dinner Dexter? (2015), Canine Kitchen Capers (2016), and Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs (2017).
In 2015, Dr. Morgan realized that on her journey to become a well known author, she needed more help. This time, she decided to hire a publicity training firm called Bradley Communications who helped her expand her reach.
In 2016, she founded her fourth business called Naturally Healthy Pets. Naturally Healthy Pets is an educational platform for pet owners that provides written and audio materials as well as high quality products for keeping pets naturally healthy. She started with her own online store and decided to expand to Amazon. This is where the story gets sad again. As we can see from her past, Dr Morgan likes to hire experts to guide her new ventures. Unfortunately, when she tried hiring a group of Amazon experts, it turned out to be a scam after she had already invested $70,000. Dr. Morgan hired a lawyer and was able to recover $25,000 before the group was shut down by the FTC and all assets were frozen. The extra sad part is another entrepreneur mortgaged his house for these “experts” and lost it all :(.
Luckily, Dr. Morgan was able to bounce back, and learn on her own how to expand her Naturally Healthy Pets platform to Amazon and in 2018, NHP brought in a nice $500,000 in revenue.
She was also awarded both the Advocate of the Year and overall Woman of the Year in the Women in the Pet Industry Network in 2018, which shows how impactful her work as a veterinarian, author, and influencer is for our beloved pets.
Now, in 2019, she has 50,000 Facebook followers, the current valuation of her two brick and mortar veterinary clinics is around $2.5 million, and she is up for another spiffy award which she is not allowed to talk about yet. She will also be expanding her speaking engagements world wide to Germany and Canada, as well as continuing her reach across the United States. Rumor has it, she will be starting yet another company soon!
Nature vs. Nurture: The question is: what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? Are some people born to be successful entrepreneurs or did they learn the skills necessary to make it?
From her story, we can see that Dr. Morgan used various consulting services and mentors to help grow her businesses. While some were successes and some were failures, she states that she definitely would’ve failed without them. However, her ability to dig in and be mentally tough are natural traits. From a young age, Dr. Morgan has always been competitive, had a strong desire to win, and refused to accept being told “you can’t do that”. Ultimately, both nature and nurture worked together to help her become the successful entrepreneur she is today.
Adversities: Dr. Morgan’s biggest adversity was money. I’m sure this resonates with many aspiring entrepreneurs. We can see from her case study that there is quite a bit of money being lost and gained along the way. To start, veterinary school put her in a massive amount of student loan debt, and she started with a $40,000 loss on her first business venture. Luckily, on her next venture she was able to get a loan from a family member, and the veterinary practice she ended up purchasing had a successful track record and personal connection with the local bank, so she could get approval for $1 million in loans. Once she owned 100% of her first practice, she almost accidentally drove the business into bankruptcy within one year of owning it. She then hired her first set of consultants for a whopping $75,000 which helped turn her businesses around, but her second round of consultants ended in a $45,000 net loss. In the end, Dr. Morgan was able to conquer her multiple monetary adversities to come out net positive on the other side, for both profit and knowledge.
Advice: Dr. Morgan advises aspiring entrepreneurs to be tough on themselves, but to always believe you can do it.
“Sometimes the decisions we make aren’t the right ones, but with each bump in the road, you have to reorganize, reevaluate, and move on,” says Dr. Morgan.
Long Term Goals: Dr. Morgan’s long term goal is to have enough money saved up that she can retire and not be a burden to her children. She would also like to start enjoying more time with her family and traveling the globe. Although, none of us believe for a second she will truly retire, and we can guarantee she will continue writing and teaching for years to come.
Gwenalysis: In my humble opinion, the amount of money Dr. Morgan risked in loans gives my frugal-self anxiety, but she had one major advantage. She is tenacious in the truest sense of the word. She was able to take risks because she knew she was capable of being successful and refused to ever accept otherwise. She is highly intelligent with a perfectly niche target market, but she wouldn’t have created the following and success she now has without her tenacity. Dr. Morgan still works close to 16 hours a day between her brick and mortar veterinary clinics, speaking engagements, social media, consulting, and dreaming up new ideas. We all have to admire Dr. Morgan’s honesty when it comes to her “failures”. The truth is 90% of new companies fail and often you can learn just as much, if not more, from the things that went wrong. Many entrepreneurs would’ve given up multiple times if they were in her shoes, but when she says she digs in, she means it, and that is one hell of a way to succeed.
Follow along with the rest of Dr. Judy Morgan's adventures
Website, Blog, and Online Store https://www.drjudymorgan.com/
Instagram www.instagram.com/drjudymorgan @drjudymorgan
Facebook www.facebook.com/JudyMorganDVM/ @JudyMorganDVM