- Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans: Brightside Clinic is the premier treatment center for prescription drug dependency and heroin addiction in the Chicago area. Our mission is to provide medication-assisted treatment in the most discrete, convenient and friendly environment. Whether dependent on painkillers, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Demerol, and Fentanyl, or addicted to heroin, Brightside Clinic’s treatment programs are uniquely designed for each patient based on their addiction and lifestyle. Through our unique combination of Buprenorphine medically-assisted treatment (also known as Suboxone®, Sublocade®, Zubsolv®, Bunavail®, and Subutex®) and counseling, we get patients on their way to regaining their life. BRIGHTSIDE Clinics are located in four convenient locations in the Chicagoland area: Northbrook, Tinley Park, North Aurora, and Bloomingdale.
- Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: Phil Atteberry has had a successful career of incorporating passion with a strong work ethic. This combination has made him very effective as an executive leader of several international corporations including Siemens, G4S, and Chemtura. In 2015, he teamed up with other professionals to start an opiate addiction treatment clinic called Brightside that is changing the way individuals are being treated for heroin and prescription pain medicine addiction. As the Chief Executive Officer, Phil is responsible for the strategy, marketing, finance, and technology for the business and partners with one of the other founders to implement a culture that eliminates shame from treatment. Phil is a board member of the Allison Toby Smart (ATS) Memorial Foundation and Live4Lali. The ATS Memorial Fund seeks to promote the spiritual, educational, and emotional well-being of adolescents and their families. Live4Lali works to reduce stigma and prevent substance use disorder among individuals, families, and communities, and minimize the overall health, legal and social harms associated with substance use. Phil Atteberry is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with a Bachelors in Engineering in Chemical Engineering and Mathematics and a graduate of the University of Chicago Book School of Management with a Masters of Business Administration.
- What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: I have a relative that has suffered from opioid use disorder (OUD) for as long as I can remember. In the past 10 years, he has become sober and it was because of great counseling and the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). When I looked around the Chicago area 5 years ago, I noticed that many clinics and rehabs were not using MAT for long term treatment. For my relative, it saved his life. So, I teamed up with some like minded professionals and we set forth to change the way people are treated for this disease. Shortly after we started, the news about this epidemic became public and we have been helping people ever since.
- What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans: For someone that is looking to start their own business, I would use the famous quote from the Tale of Two Cities “It was the best of time, it was the worst of time…” Being a business owns is incredible as you can truly change the world, but it come with a huge amount of responsibility. So, for anyone getting into owning/starting your own business, I would give the following advice:
- Go all in. To be successful in a business, you need to commit yourself 100%. I hear so many people that are trying to do something on the side, and it rarely works. Also, you need to be fully vested in what you want to do to make it successful.
- Believe in what you are doing. Sometime you might have some hard decision as you venture into new territory and question if you are making the right decisions. But, you need to believe that you company’s mission is going to be successful. So many times, I worried about making the right decision, but in the end, I would ask myself, “Is my company the best way to provide treatment for this disease?” and I always said “Yes”.
- Make valuable partners. To be successful, you need to surround yourself with successful people. They will help you as you go along your venture. They all don’t have to be from your industry, too. Some of the most valuable advice I have every received or learned came from people that were able to look at my industry or business from a completely different view point.
- What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Being a business owner is not easy, but it can be the most rewarding thing you ever do. To be successful, you really need to have the following things:
- Grit. I know its cliché, but it is 100% true. Especially if you are venturing into any area that is new the world or industry. You will have a lot of nay sayers and people that will say your crazy or wrong. You need to believe that you are right in what you are doing and grow some thick skin. When we entered the market 5 years ago, almost everyone would not speak to us because they believed that using medicine to help people overcome addiction was wrong. Now, almost every rehab and clinic uses MAT to treat patients.
- Stay ahead of the curve. Being an entrepreneur means that you are unsatisfied with the status quo. Thus, you want to take the initiative to change the market or world with your idea. But, understand that all market evolve and what might be a great, new idea today, will be old news tomorrow. So, always look to see how you can stay ahead of everyone else.
- Don’t have an ego. I have some people that would disagree with me, but I have been successful by listening to everyone and using that information to influence my path. Sometimes, you have to make quick right turns in your strategy. That is the best thing about being an entrepreneur versus working for a large company. It will keep you ahead of them when markets change. But, to do that, you need to admit when you are wrong or need to change your strategy. It take courage, but a successful entrepreneur can do it.
- How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: When ever I can. If you love what you do, there is no barrier on time spent on growing a business. On that note, you do need to make time for family. I cherish my wife as she has chosen to be a passenger on this ride. She has also been my rock when times are tough and my cheerleader when times are great. So, taking time to share your life with someone you love is very important and you should always take out time to get away.
- To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: I attribute almost all my success to people I meet. I would not be anywhere if not for my friends, colleagues, teachers, and mentors. When we are young we think we know it all, but as you get older, you realize you don’t. Thus, having great people around me has helped me be a better leader, husband, and contributor to society.
- How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: We concentrate most of our marketing to helping patients directly. Many of our competitors market to get referrals and do very well, but I have learned that if you are successful and partner with someone that can also do your service, you won’t be successful for very long. Thus, we have been very successful at helping people that want to quit for the very first time or someone that wants to try something new. We still very much appreciate the referrals we get from other providers, but in terms of marketing our business, we feel it is better to concentrate on families and patients.
- Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: We are 100% self funded. It has been the best way to do it when looking to budget for new projects or ventures. We may get funding in the future as we looking to rapidly expand, but to start a business, using your own money has made this experience 100% real.
- What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Interesting question. Most people look at long-term success in terms of growing in a career, becoming an expert in your field, and going up the ladder. I never had that kind of career. I always focused on the core capabilities and applying it to several industries. That way if you want to change careers or want to start something new, you know the core of how to do it and all you need to do is learn a new field.
- Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: We hope to be providing our unique style of treatment to people across the US. There are so many people that need our help and we want to help them.
- Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: Any company in the service industry. Providing service is very hard. When you establish a relationship with someone, either for a few minutes or years, you are right on the front lines whenever something goes bad. Internet reviews are a good example of that. When someone is mad at a service, they are very quick to the internet to scream about their experience. If you don’t like a product, like I hate my refrigerator, you are not so inclined to scream about it, but tolerate it. Thus, any business that works with people on a day to day basis has to always be on and are constantly striving to improve themselves and business every day.
- How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: They are everything. As a clinic, the people I hire represent every aspect of our vision and the value of our business. One bad employee can not only give a wrong impression to patients, but will also infect the culture within the clinic.
On that note though, I do believe that everyone is not perfect. I believe a do a fairly decent job of hiring the right people and if someone is with me for awhile and has issues, I prefer to inform them of the problem and work it out versus firing them. Sometimes, their behavior is a reflection of how I am managing them. Thus, sometimes its me and not them.
- How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: I like to see all ideas through until they have large signs that it should not be pursued any further. If I have an idea and an issue comes up, I like to mold with the issue as sometimes it can make the idea better.
- What motivates you?
Ans: The wellbeing of others. I am so lucky to be in an industry that is built on helping others. So, it motivates me to help my patients, but it also motivates me to make sure my staff and doctors are taken care of.
- What are your ideals?
Ans: Ethics and character. I like to think that I have both. And I look for that in people that I work with and associate with. If someone does not have one of these, I am typically not interested in being around them or working with them.
- How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: I like to think of an idea, bounce it off some people, do some research and find the best way for the idea to work. Some get discouraged and move on, but I believe in myself and think that if I thought it up, there has to be something there.
- How do you define success?
Ans: Happiness. This does not always mean money. This means that you are doing something that makes you happy. We have to all go through tough times, but if the goal is to be happy, then you are being successful.
- How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Respect. You have to respect your customers and their view point. I know of a lot of businesses that are built on not respecting their customers and in the end they turn on them. I truly believe that my patients are fighting a battle that I will never experience. It is so hard to do and the world is stacked against them. Thus, I make sure that my clinic and services are the best available.
- What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: Owning my decisions. I make the decisions and I live with it. There is no one else to point to or blame. Thus, I get all the reward if I am right. It of course has its down sides, but I accept that.
- What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: My most satisfying moment in business is deciding that I want to start my own business. I had always been successful in my career by being an entrepreneur in large corporations, but always felt hindered by the bureaucracy. When I made the decision to go on my own, I felt energized and alive.
- What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: I don’t know. I know some great people that work for someone else and are very successful. I think it might be someone that really wants to beat to a different drum and is comfortable in that type of environment. I learned early on that people are successful in specific environments that make them most comfortable. For example, some people work incredibly when they have strick rules and processes. Others work great when they can make up their own rules. I think it is just finding the best environment to be successful and working there.
- What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans: I have built a culture of mutual respect. We are all at our clinic because we want to help. That culture then translates to our patients. I respect my staff, they then respect our patients. I also understand that no one is perfect and use any “mistake” as an opportunity to evaluate the business and see if it is training, someone in the wrong job, or is there something with the business that needs to be updated to make sure this issue never happens again.
- In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: Obviously, this question is about regret. Early in my career I would have probably had a long list. Now, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Sure, I have some moments where I was unprepared or made a mistake, but in the end, those are the moments that made me better myself. If there is anything that I wished I learned faster than I did, I would say evaluating and understanding colleagues. It has been something that has caused unneeded suffering and pain in my career and I wish I learned to better evaluate people I work with faster.
- How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: Before I had my own business, I traveled constantly. While I was making good money and provided wonderful things for my family, we were never really happy. Now that I am an entrepreneur, I barely ever travel and have been able to form a new bond with my wife and kids that I would have never had if I stayed in the corporate world. We have experienced more stress than before, but we have gone through bad times together as a team. This has made us closer than ever before.
- What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans: My greatest fear is that something horrible will happen to my family. I have learned that in work, I can make mistakes, have really bad months financially, etc, but I can always work around them. Might not be the best outcome, but I work with what I have and move forward. And, I learned that my family is forever. My business will come and go, and one day, I hopefully will sell it and retire. Then what? Having a safe and loving family means more to me than anything else.
- How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans: We wanted to start close versus far away from where we live. We have always had hopes to expand throughout the country, but I wanted to make sure we fine tuned the process before I opened locations that I could not be at in about an hour. Thus, we have strategically tried several different types of locations to best understand where we need to be in the future that will provide the best outcomes.
- Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: No. I believe that every person fits a specific type of industry based on their personality, work ethic, and knowledge. Sometime that needs someone who is cut throats and ruthless and others it requires someone that puts quality before profits. Neither are bad, but one type that is best for specific industries. The only thing that I would say is consistent in any person is that stay true to themselves and how they function. If you try to “fake it ‘til you make it” as an entrepreneur, you will fail. Be yourself and you will succeed.
- If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans: I don’t really have anyone that I would want to speak with. I read books about my heroes and learn a ton from books that help me change who I am. That is the one sided way that I get what I need from someone else’s experiences. If I speak with someone, I always want it to be a two way discussion. I know I am taking the question in a different more philosophical way, but people are always looking at this question to define the person. I am so many people from the books I have read, teachers I have had the please of being in their class, and growing up with parents, brothers, and friends.
- Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans: My patients, by far. They brave the hardest battle anyone could ever endure. They have a drug that has changed everything they believe in and love. In addition, the world looks down on addiction and they can feel shame for this thing that in most cases is not their fault. Thus, when someone overcomes the disease that is addiction, hold their head up high, and start over, I am so proud to be a part of that process. Please thank us all the time for helping them overcome addiction and I always say that I just opened the door, they chose to walk through it.
- What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Ans: I have two business books that I have truly enjoyed and has had me look differently at myself. One was The Challenging Sale. This book helped me better understand the sales process, how I should act to convey myself to others, and hire the best sales people possible. Another fun book that I read was the American Icon about Ford’s efforts to weather the financial crisis. Also, I had worked in the corporate world for quite sometime and was constantly frustrated with processes that incentivized mediocre performance as long as they toed the line. This book was a great example to me that you can change things at the top and you don’t, and shouldn’t, be satisfied with how things have been done for years.
- What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans: I have had quite a few. But most of them I corrected or moved on. One of the biggest mistakes that I sometimes do is believe in people that I should not. I inherently believe that all people are good and want the best for everyone else, but there are some that only worry about themselves. Thus, I now only work with people that I know have the greater good in their hearts and know that if we work for each other, we will individually succeed.
- How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans: First, you can never prevent mistakes and should not. Everyone learns from mistakes and should constantly put themselves in situations that they feel they may fail. Then, when someone does do a mistake, try not to focus on what you did and more about the situation. If you believe in yourself, then relook at the situation and see what you can do to minimize the opportunity for it to happen again. Even if you said something in appropriate to someone else, think about what you can do to make sure it never happens again. Most the time is coming clean and apologizing and understanding that people don’t like to be talked to like that. For larger issues, look at your own organization and see what you did was the best thing for the company or not. If what you did hurt the company, see why it occurred and fix it.
- What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans: For me it is doing projects around the house and spending time with my family. I think of this as an investment in my future. When I get older, I won’t have a job. But, I will have my family to talk on a regular basis and experience new things with them.
- What makes you happy?
Ans: What typically makes me happy is accomplishments. I don’t mean rewards, but moving things along in work and life. If things are in limbo on deal or a project, I get frustrated. I am truly happen when I am moving to the solution of a problem or a goal.
- What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Luxury. I used to have nicer things, belong to clubs, etc, but gave all that up to focus on my new venture. And, now that I look back, I found that these things that I thought I needed to make me happy really did not.
- If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
Ans: The key thing is why do you want to be an entrepreneur? This can tell so much. If you get I want to be my own boss or I want to make a lot of money or I want to manage people, then they typically have the wrong attitude. To be an entrepreneur, you need the urge to change the world. Now sometimes it may be small, like you want to open an ice cream shop, but to be successful you need to feel that you will create the best ice cream shop in the world. That is what I have seen makes the best as an entrepreneur.