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Local Doctor thrives after prescribing entry into small business ownership


Local Doctor thrives after prescribing entry into small business ownership

It’s not uncommon for doctors to have several office locations, but few can claim they offer medical services in multiple states.

Dr. Jyothi Gella does just that, boasting a Johnstown-based internal medicine practice coupled with a health care staffing solutions business, dubbed Gella LLC. The company’s main client is Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in neighboring Virginia.

Ironically, Gella herself diagnosed the need to venture into small business ownership.

“I came here in 1995 do complete my residency and stayed to open my practice,” she explained to me. “I became involved in the community and saw an opportunity for women. In 2005, I decided to open my own business.”

Her firm, which started out with a mere three employees, now employs 25 -- all of whom are emergency and labor/delivery room clerks and administrative clerks.

“They all are contract employees and the majority work full-time,” Gella stated. “The staffing is a good fit for me because, as a medical doctor, I can understand the hospital’s needs.”

This March we celebrate Women’s History Month, honoring the accomplishments of women in all walks of life. In fact, there are 74.8 million women in the workforce and 41.6 percent work in management – like Gella.

Like most women entrepreneurs, Dr. Gella not only is passionate about her work, but is humble and willing to learn.

Gella explained that as a medical professional, she spends her days interacting with patients, keeping up-to-date on her skills and completing paperwork. She’s now transferred those talents to business ownership.

Like medical school, the task was daunting and time consuming.

Gella swapped anatomy classes for information sessions at Johnstown Area Regional Industries (JARI). Instead of discussing treatment options with patients, she learned to network. Encouraged by her peers, she entered the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) government contracting program. She admitted to learning more each year, most of it being on-call.

“When I opened my practice, I had to self-educate myself and become a computer technologist,” she explained. “I also had to learn about processing time sheets and balancing the books.”

According to Gella, her paper-pushing background helped propel her success in government contracting.

“I’m disciplined on paperwork and process my contracts in a timely manner and check for contracting opportunities frequently,” she said.

But like most small business owners, Gella faced an uphill battle.

“The first two years I was in the 8(a) program, nothing happened,” she said. “I went to meetings and listened but I was shy.”

Much like a patient, Dr. Gella recovered, becoming more outgoing and learning how to market her business.

“I tell people who I am, what I can do, that I am punctual and interested,” she proudly stated. “At the October contracting meeting, I found a business to team with that very day.”

Gella even offered a diagnosis for those wishing to become their own boss.

“Find what you really want to do,” she offered. “Initially it [small business ownership] is hard work, but, once you find the right networking organizations it will become easier.”

I have to agree. Gella’s advice is just what the doctor ordered.

Carl Knoblock is the Western Pennsylvania SBA district director.  You can email him at carl.knoblock@sba.gov