A pain doctors couldn't diagnose during his early baseball-playing years led Eugene Charles to his first encounter with what many call alternative medicine—in this case, a chiropractor. The adjustment worked, Charles said. It also inspired a career and a business, taking care of others.
After starting his own career in California, Charles now practices in New York City as the The Applied Kinesiology Center of New York, offering a range of modalities to address issues for patients who haven't found solutions from other medical offices.
“I have taught hundreds of doctors of all disciplines the applied kinesiology method of using muscle testing, chiropractic, acupuncture, exercise physiology and nutrition to help… patients to have healthier and happier lives," Charles says.
Charles has grown his business to include teaching other professionals how to address bodywork, and he has developed a series of exercises for his patients (and others) so they can keep their bodies in prime condition. But he does it all with a keen on eye on developing his practice as a business.
1. Why did you start your business?
When I was 12 years old I hurt my arm as a Little League pitcher. My mother took me to the doctors she knew at the hospital where she worked, but no one could help me. My best friend's uncle was a chiropractor specializing in sports injuries, so we tried that. He explained that a nerve affecting my arm was being irritated by a bone in my neck. He aligned it and within a week my arm was working again.
In my 20s I hurt my shoulder lifting weights. The doctor who invented applied kinesiology told me a small joint in my shoulder was not moving right. He corrected and I could move my arm again, pain free.
I started my practice in 1987 because I never want anyone to give up on their dreams due to physical limitations or injuries.
2. What hurdles have you overcome in running your business?
I struggled with a lack of capital. After constructing a business plan, I could only raise half the minimum amount needed. I decided to start my practice anyway, maxing out credit cards and personal loans—I paid back my friends and family with 10 percent interest.
—Eugene Charles, founder, The Applied Kinesiology Center of New York
3. What would you want other business owners to know about starting a business?
Starting a business is like renovating a house—it will take twice as long and will cost twice as much as you thought. You will often want to quit and take the easier route. Frustration leads to progress, or quitting. Don't quit! When you feel like giving up, you need to keep giving more.
4. What tips do you have for business owners in the alternative medicine industry?
The main tip is to apply the same rule that dictates all relationships, since business is mostly about relationships. Namely, treat others the way you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes. I would want my doctor to spend time with me and get to know what is going on in my life and well as in my body. I would want my doctor to know what my goals are and why I need to be in optimal health to accomplish them.
I have developed a program for doctors, “The Practice Leadership Program," where I teach the business principles I was fortunate enough to learn. The basic key to success I believe is this: Give people more than they expect.
5. What has been your most memorable moment as a business owner?
As a business owner my most memorable moment is when the Chamber of Commerce did the ribbon cutting on my first office. I remember turning around, looking at my office, and ironically thinking, “Well, there's no turning back now—I better heal people."