Using a Non-Profit to Lend a Helping Hand to the Community

Felicia Nichols
Felicia Nichols, a 1-800Accountant, operates a non-profit in Chicago for those in need.
Felicia Nichols, a client of 1-800Accountant, runs a non-profit in Chicago called Journey for Healthier Living, Inc. The non-profit was launched in 2013.

Felicia Nichols loves helping others. By using this passion, she took the initiative to start up her own non-profit small business in Chicago, Illinois to lend a helping hand to those in need.

Nichols, who is a 1-800Accountant client, runs Journey for Healthier Living, Inc. The company was established in 2013. Although she’s the only one currently involved in the non-profit, her goal is to eventually have upwards of 100 employees on staff.

Journey for Healthier Living is an organization still in its early stages. Nichols ultimately intends to help both children and adults who are in need. Her mission is to find a brick-and-mortar location in the Chicago area that can provide one-on-one and group support for individuals dealing with various issues in their lives. She hopes to help children who are in troubled homes and adults suffering from emotional and drug-related problems.

“This organization is all about community outreach,” Nichols says. “We are trying to serve the at-risk population, the poor, and victims of domestic violence and abuse. We plan to serve both children and adults, and we hope to have a foster home for kids where we teach them life skills and how to cope with difficult situations.”

There were several reasons she decided to set up the non-profit, but the most important one to her is her passion for helping people.

“I enjoy working with people,” she says. “It’s about time for me to get out there after my experience working with different agencies and finding out how they are run. My bottom-line inspiration is helping others in the community.”

The factors that play into how successful a small business can be are multifaceted and differ among small business owners. For Nichols, she believes the people she brings on her team will ultimately drive this business success.

“Hiring professional and passionate individuals is my goal,” she says. “It works both ways, though. If I treat my employees right, they will be more confident in the business. I also have to be even-handed and treat my employees just like I treat my clients.”

Turning a Dream into a Reality

The most satisfaction she has gotten out of the entire start up process has been witnessing her dream culminate into a real non-profit organization.

“Seeing things come to life and watching everything come together has been really special,” she says. “Once I put everything down on paper, I realized that this was going to be a reality.”

In her opinion, the organization is different from others in the fact that Nichols is using a unique approach.

“We will have a different philosophy,” she says. “Not only are we looking at how we treat clients, we are looking at how we treat our staff to reduce high turnover and gain their loyalty in the mission we hope to achieve.”

Networking by getting out in the community has been the best way of spreading the word about the non-profit, according to Nichols.

“I’ve already had people come to me and tell me that they believe in what I am doing. It’s just great to have this support. In some ways, it seems kind of surreal. I’ve learned that I have to be 10 steps ahead all the time as far as getting the business off the ground and knowing what’s next.”

Setting up a non-profit is unique compared to establishing a more traditional for-profit business entity in terms of getting IRS approval. This is something Nichols has learned full well.

“The greatest challenge has been doing all the paperwork,” she admits. “It truly makes a difference to have someone complete the paperwork who is licensed to do it. It’s hard to do it as an individual, and it saves a lot of time and money to go with people who are certified and experienced.  That’s why I came to 1-800Accountant.”

To help her pave her own path to becoming a small business owner, Nichols sought out assistance from a successful retired business owner. Because of this, she highly recommends contacting your local or state small business association to get helpful guidance.

“I have a mentor who is now retired and went through the whole process of setting up a company,” she says. “It’s so valuable to sit down and talk to others about everything. It doesn’t have to be someone from your same field necessarily. Hearing about these experiences and pitfalls they went through is a major help. If this is your dream and ambition, it’s worth the work and the research to get the assistance you need.”

Along with her non-profit, Nichols works as a mental health therapist. However, she had to change her work status from full-time to temporary so she can devote all of her time to the non-profit eventually. The biggest advantage to self-employment in her view is having a flexible schedule.

“You can work as much or as little as you want,” she says. “The biggest thing, though, is that you have to put in your time to really make it work.”

Nichols gives 1-800Accountant high praise for the great experience she’s had working with the national accounting firm.

“I have been extremely satisfied with the services I have received,” she says. “I would highly recommend 1-800Accountant to others. I hope to expand to 6 other states, so having a company with the experience on a national level is perfect for me.”

She adds that the accountants she’s dealt with at the firm have been extremely helpful and detail-oriented.

“The accountants are so precise about doing things a certain way and making sure it’s the right way. I love their professionalism and personal attention. If I lack the knowledge of something in one area, the accountants make up for it.”

Photo credit: The photograph of Felicia Nichols was provided by Journey for Healthier Living, Inc. and is used with permission.

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