A little more than 14 years ago, we welcomed our third son into our family. Prior to his birth, we were advised there was a one in seven chance that he would be born with Down syndrome. At each and every doctor’s appointment we were offered an amniocentesis, which we opted out, as the results are not 100% accurate, could yield a false positive or negative and there was a chance the procedure would cause a miscarriage. Additionally, knowing was not going to make a difference; we were having a baby and he would be loved and nurtured no differently than his two older brothers. While in the hospital, the geneticist provided us a book, Babies With Down Syndrome: A New Parent’s Guide, which I read the first few pages before tossing it across the room; to this day it sits in a drawer with a beautiful note my nurse had written about how we were chosen for our son. My husband and I determined we didn’t need a book telling us how to raise our child and we would deal with any obstacle when and if it occurred.

There are 61 million adults in the US living with a disability and more than three million children, which consists of the under 18 population. What we should focus on, and keep in mind, is these individuals; whether they have a genetic disability or one that occurred later in life, need the stimulation and socialization as that of a typically developing person. Inclusion is extremely important and plays an integral role in ones mental and physical well being, from the early stages of development through adulthood. In order to make a difference, you have to be the difference and that is what Daniel Stein set out to do and accomplished when he began Special Strong.

In the final installment of our four-part series, Daniel explains the importance of developing and maintaining relationships when working with individuals with disabilities and their families.

Tell me a little about your business. When you started and the services you provide.

We started Special Strong in 2016 to provide adaptive fitness to individuals with mental, physical, and cognitive challenges.

Q. As an entrepreneur, why is it important for you to build relationships with clients?

A. It’s the heartbeat of everything we do. We are in the people business and we exist to serve others. Without having relationships, we wouldn’t have a business.

Q. Relationship building is an invaluable tool for business owners. In your profession, what have been some of the most challenging hurdles you’ve encountered when building relationships?

A. It’s been challenging to stay focused on the relationships when scaling a business into multiple locations. It takes a lot more intentionality to keep the people as the number one focus rather than making scaling the business the number one focus. It’s a constant battle that never gets easier.

Q. How did you overcome those obstacles?

A. My faith keeps me recalibrated on what God considers to be important, which is people. Practically, it looks like spending quiet time with God and listening to His voice and guidance on a daily basis.

Q. What strategies have you found that work best to build positive and lasting relationships with your clients?

A. Make the relationship more than a transaction. Ask questions to truly get to know the person.

Q. What advice about relationship building would you give to someone who is just starting his or her own business?

A. Read Start and Why and never forget your purpose for getting into business, which always comes down to people, no matter what profession you are in.

Daniel Stein is CEO & Founder of Special Strong; Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex