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From ‘No Plan’ to 4 Month Waitlist: Vanessa’s Private Practice Success Story

This guest post was written by Vanessa Anderson-Smith of Anderson-Smith Speech Therapy, LLC.

I was a 27 year old speech-language pathologist approximately 3 years out of graduate school. 

By June of 2013 skilled nursing facilities and healthcare were changing drastically and at an alarming rate. After my hours were cut from 40+ a week to 20 a week I knew I had to do something.  

I decided to take on three Birth-3 kiddos as an independent contractor. I figured it was always my passion so why not?   

It went well for a month so in a matter of 2 days I decided to change my career path in a big way and quit my ‘steady’ job to work part time in a school and part time as an independent contractor for early intervention.  

My plan was?? I didn’t have one. 

One family member told me this was ‘the biggest mistake of my life’.  Others said ‘take the risk’.  My husband had faith in me but I can’t say he didn’t hold his breath.   I did too…but I didn’t tell many I did. 

“I was doing the exact therapy I had dreamed of doing.”

Thanks to an amazing school district I learned even more than I could have imagined that year.  I also invested in thousands of dollars of my own money that year to take trainings that were important to me: feeding and oral motor. 

My referrals for private therapy were thrilled with my new skills and soon I was seeing more kiddos than I had ever and was doing the exact therapy I had dreamed of doing. 

My referrals for therapy took off and I had to make the intricate decision to not return to the school district and pursue my private practice.  I was so fortunate that the Dell Rapids Quarriers were beyond supportive of me.  

“Within less than a year I had a 4 month waitlist”

By leaving the school I rolled the dice yet again by saying goodbye to a steady job with good benefits and going fully independent.  

Like many things in life, there were no guarantees, only God’s Plan.   I found my specialty within my passion for oral motor and feeding disorders.  To this day I cannot get enough of it.  

I am a ‘continuing education junkie’, I plan out extensive training opportunities as much as I can.  My husband is the first to tell me to spend the money on worthwhile courses, travel out of the state, and take unpaid days off of work to do so.   

My family members are incredibly supportive and volunteer at various events with the Anderson-Smith Speech Therapy Team.  

And there is no mention of the ‘biggest mistake of my life’ because it didn’t happen, it didn’t exist.  Everyday my heart bursts at the seams being able to help little ones eat and talk (personally my 2 favorite things!).  

Within less than a year I had a 4 month waitlist for new patients.  This month I am opening my first office location. 

I Had the Support I Needed

It took a village to get me here.  

My husband, mother, father, and twin sister have all been an advisor to me whether it is for taxes, marketing, billing or a person to lean on.   

Because of how my family helped and supported me, it allowed me to help other families.  I am forever grateful for them and their desire to see me and my business succeed.   


Vanessa Anderson-Smith is a Speech-Language Pathologst and South Dakota native who received her masters degree from the University Of South Dakota in 2010. Vanessa began her career working in skilled nursing homes in the area and then transitioned to servicing children full time. Vanessa lives in Sioux Falls with her husband Ryan, 2 dogs, and one cat.

To learn more about Vanessa, visit her private practice website and “Like” her Facebook page.


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