Give yourself a chance to try everything.”
Deborah Y. Strauss, DVM is a well-rounded and experienced veterinarian, based in the greater Cedar Rapids area of Iowa. At her self-run vaccination and wellness clinic, Deborah is dedicated to giving all animals the best life possible. Her clinic, based in Marion, Iowa, was opened with the hopes of providing the best care for local pets at an affordable cost. Her passion for animals began at a young age, as she always knew that her unique bond with animals would lead her to her current career path.
What makes Deborah Y. Strauss different from all other vets in the Iowa area is her expertise in treating animals with chemotherapy to combat their cancer diagnosis. She specializes in feline and canine lymphosarcoma and her rate of success is 75%. In addition to her specialization in chemotherapy, Deborah also practices equine ophthalmology and equine recurrent uveitis. Her portfolio of clients expands beyond cats, dogs, and horses, as she also treats various other animals including rodents and goats.
At the age of eleven, Deborah Y. Strauss was given her first horse and her bond with it only solidified that her true passion was animals. Being surrounded by cats and dogs in her home life helped her to decide that she would attend Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. At Cornell College, Deborah studied Biology and Art, helping to put her on the path to following both of her dreams. Later, she attended Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she inevitably fulfilled her dream of becoming a practicing veterinarian.
In addition to her love of all animals, Deborah Y. Strauss is also passionate about many forms of art. She herself has dabbles in many art endeavors including, photography, illustration and watercolor painting. Even when her schedule seems so hectic, Deborah always makes time to relax and practice her art.
Where did the idea for the Deborah Y. Strauss Mobile Veterinary Clinic come from?
My entire life I had a passion for animals. I knew that I wanted to spend the majority of my life around animals and helping them in any capacity that I could. When I graduated from veterinary school 20 years ago, I knew that I wanted to start my own practice. I wanted to provide a service like no other typical vet office. That was when I came up with the concept of providing a mobile vet clinic
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The life of a vet is so unpredictable. For me, especially. As a mobile veterinarian, I never know if I will be stationed in the office or driving around to make house and farm calls all day. Sometimes I will have surgeries lined up and sometimes it will just be a house call for a small pet. There can be such a wide range of scenarios. In order to make my days as productive as possible, I know I just have to go with the flow. Trying to get everything done can be impossible but as long as I remain flexible, I can eliminate a great deal of conflict and stress.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In the field of medicine, there is little room for new and fresh ideas. We leave that up to researchers and scientists. However, when it comes to trying a new technique for a patient, there is some implementation that needs to occur. As I deal with animals, it is up to their human owners to make the ultimate decision. When trying a new treatment or healing technique, it often takes some in-depth conversations to all get on the same page. I make sure to have concrete examples and reasons as to why they should give the method a try.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The way that I have structured my schedule has helped me maintain my professionalism and be better at what I do. For example, I always schedule my surgeries during the afternoon. This is because the mornings are when the most call traffic comes my way with crisis’ and emergency situations. In the afternoon, things tend to calm down so I can fully focus on what is most important at that moment, which is usually an animal surgery.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Give yourself a chance to try everything. There have been a great deal of hardships for me in running my own practice. I wish I would have tried to work for an existing practice or clinic first, before moving on the running my own. I had a lot to learn quickly and the experience could have helped me to learn some lessons earlier on rather than having to overcome them myself.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Most of society, specifically pet owners, don’t realize the extent of the expenses to run a successful veterinary practice. Many clients are confused as to why a procedure for a large dog is similarly priced to what it would cost for the same procedure on a human. We use all of the same tools and technologies that hospitals do. Even though they are most often smaller than a human, it still takes a great deal of resources (expensive ones at that) to treat an animal in the best possible capacity.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
In any industry it is so important to find a balanced schedule that works for you, and only you. Finding your flow as a vet can be hard, as I mentioned earlier, things can change all of the time. Also, everything you ever say to a client, in the medical industry or not, should be written down. It is hard to trust that people will remember what you said. Having written documentation of literally everything, is so crucial.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Since there are millions of vets around the world and likely hundreds in your area, finding a niche that is not popular around you is key. I have founds a few aspects of my practice that have truly helped me grow. For example, I specialize in skin conditions and chemotherapy for cats and dogs. So if someone takes their pet to a regular practice, they can then be referred to me for those areas of treatment. Additionally, I also provide services such as house calls and in-home euthanasia, which are rare as of late, and many people appreciate having the opportunity to utilize them.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Sadly, I encountered a situation where I only gave oral instructions and explanations for a treatment to a client and did not write it down. This eventually came back as a conflict and was something I had to spend a great deal of time resolving. It was simple to overcome though. I now write everything out for all of my patients even if it is the most simple of concepts. Have a paper trail for everything and anything can save a great deal of grief down the line.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
More mobile clinics! I know it isn’t new but there should be so many more vets who provide some of the services that I offer. Patient relationship and trust is huge and you can build upon that so much from simply offering house calls. Making yourself known is an important aspect of this as well. Let people know that you are offering a service unique in comparison to a regular vet office.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Over the holidays, we adopted a family for Christmas. We provided them with food and gifts to celebrate with. It is so important to think about those who are less fortunate, especially this time of year. Being able to give that family a special holiday season was truly rewarding and I hope that it can be a stepping stone of hope for them to get to where they need to be.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. This self-help book is unlike any other I have ever read or heard of. The author fully engages readers by introducing them to the ‘law of attraction’/ She also discusses just how important it is to surround yourself with positivity and how integrating good things into your life can make you a better person in the end. You can change the world by being sending positive thoughts out into the world and that is something that has helped me lead my life as a better version of me.
What is your favorite quote?
Nelson Mandela -” It always seems impossible until it is done.”
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.