A career in counseling wasn’t necessarily something JaNaé Taylor planned to pursue. In fact, she didn’t even know that option existed.
As an undergraduate majoring in biology at Tuskegee University in Alabama, Taylor MEd ’03, PhD ’07 met some UGA doctoral students who inspired her to change her major to psychology. She soon discovered that UGA offered a master’s degree in community counseling, which she continued to build upon with a Ph.D. in counseling psychology.
After spending time interning and counseling at both Mississippi State and Old Dominion universities’ counseling centers, Taylor opened her own private practice following encouragement from a group of her colleagues who were also interested in opening their own businesses.
While working to establish her practice, which specializes in providing individual services to the black community, Taylor noticed a theme: some patients who were successful black entrepreneurs struggled to manage the toll their demanding jobs had on their mental health.
“Some of the very traits and skills that help entrepreneurs flourish in their business can also be damaging to their health. Working around the clock. Saying yes to everything. A lot of them tend to be creative, so they stay up all hours of the night,” Taylor says. “So while that makes your business beautiful, it’s terrible for personal life and personal health.”
She created the podcast, Minding My Black Business, to provide black entrepreneurs with information on the more challenging parts of running a business, along with tips and guidelines on how to manage aspects of entrepreneurship that take a toll on not only their physical health but their mental health as well.
Minding My Black Business hosts guests who discuss their lives as entrepreneurs and give advice on how to deal with the burdens that come with that career path. She says black entrepreneurs specifically need to be aware that there are counselors like her available to them who specialize in those areas.
What started as a way to market and advertise for her business eventually grew into a community of entrepreneurs and a podcast with 37,500 downloads and listeners in 38 countries.
Taylor said she received outstanding support from her mentors and professors at UGA, particularly Rosemary Phelps, who gave her advice that has stuck with her throughout her career and into private practice.
“There’s no way that I’m going to be able to experience everything that every client comes to me with. But there are things that are universal, such as grief, loss, sadness, and anxiety. Those are the things that I can help with. That just busted the doors wide open for me. It made me the therapist I am today.”