Joe Swafford is not your traditional entrepreneur, if there even is such a thing. He still has, and loves, his full time career at Carolinas Healthcare System, where he is a Peer Support Specialist for the Mindy Ellen Levine Behavioral Health Center. He is also a full time hustler, squeezing every second he can out of each day to pursue his passion of helping others. His company, Trauma Fighter, has been growing like crazy lately, yet he still finds time to juggle it all. On top of all this there is his favorite role of them all: devoted father and family man. Where does he find the time to make it all work? Let’s find out.
Trauma Fighter has evolved quite a bit since I started it. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that whatever you start out thinking you’re going to do rarely is the case in reality. You plan for things to go a certain way and then they can change on you in an instant. Because of this I always try to keep an open mind and pursue opportunities as they come.
In the beginning I thought I was only going to do public speaking engagements. That’s how I started at least. Fortunately, they have all been very well received, and because of that so many other doors have opened up to me. Speaking is still a huge part of what I do of course, but now I also spend a great deal of my time teaching classes at AHEC and for private companies, as well as providing life coaching sessions to a select group of individual clients.
I’ve been very blessed in that the more of these things I do, the more opportunities keep presenting themselves. I’ve not only presented at large conferences at my company, but have now worked with large organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District among others.
The cool thing about the growth I’ve experienced so far is that it’s been done solely by word of mouth. I haven’t really done any advertising or marketing yet. Most of my clients have heard me speak, took one of my classes, or were referred to me by someone else that had. Currently I discuss topics like mental health, depression, and anti-bullying, however I am always thinking of new angles and approaches to reach my audience and help them any way I can.
One rule I live by is that I always reflect and think about how I can fit my dreams into my family? It’s never the other way around, I work around my family always. One way I make that work is that my ride home from work now doubles as a business meeting every single day. I have a very long commute, so my car has become my office.
There is certainly no set protocol yet to what I’m doing and I’m not following anyone’s rule-book but my own. I do what feels right and figure out the rest out as I go. Eventually I know that I’m going to have to implement more structured policies, but for now it has been working great. One specific example relates to my pricing structure, being flexible on this has allowed me to test and validate what my market rate is. I find that for some opportunities my price is way too high even when I think I’m quoting a lower rate than normal, while others think it’s low and a bargain for the value they get. I know I miss out on some things here and there but that’s part of the deal.
To continue growing the company I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can and I even started dabbling with things like social media. I tend to be long-winded so Twitter hasn’t been the best platform for me. Facebook on the other hand has been working really well, and the data it provides has been extremely helpful as I test what works. It’s very important for me to engage with my audience wherever they’re at. I recently purchased a GoPro and launched a weekly video series called Trauma Fighter Tuesday. It seems to be working really well as with each post I reach new people that I didn’t know, and not only are they befriending me, but they’re also reaching out to learn more about what I do and asking for help.
There are plenty of great speakers and teachers out there, so in order to differentiate myself I’ve really had to be open about my background and share stories that are often painful to relive. This is often the source of a lot of fear and anxiety for me, but I know that doing this is a big part of my purpose and calling. Knowing and accepting this has led me to launch one of my scariest projects yet that I’ve been putting off for years: writing a book. I started working with a ghost writer to assist me with it and we’re planning to launch it by the end of the year so stay tuned.
Being an entrepreneur has a lot of ups and downs, but when you’re truly living your purpose and feel passionately about what you’re doing it makes it all worth it. I know I have a lot to learn yet and have plenty of room to grow, but when you discover that you were able to impact even just one life it’s such a rewarding feeling that you have no choice but to push on and keep fighting.