A few days ago I introduced this new mini-series on approaching business as a mom, wife, and believer. I believe in two things: God AND family should come before our business and work. These are priorities that are aligned biblically with the Word, but this is going to look different in your life than mine. I’d just ask that you pray and ask Him how He wants to work that out in your life. This is how He’s currently led me to work it out in mine, and if you are a business owner or are considering starting a business, I hope these thoughts might be helpful to you, too.
- Think outside the box – business start-up. As an entrepreneur who has 5 kids, I want to be sure the work that I do is worth the time that it takes me away from my home. There is always a sacrifice in the home for the hours I spend with patients, preparing for fitness classes, or developing online content. The work I do needs to create some sort of profit even though I’m not the breadwinner, because otherwise, for me and my big family, it’s not worth the time it’s taking away from them. For that reason, I’m really careful about my budget, my overhead costs, and my spending.
- Since I began, I’ve always kept to a tight budget and done without a lot of things so that I am taking money home and not creating debt. Most PT clinics have a gym, equipment, machines, and a fair amount of bells and whistles. I’ve had the privilege in the past of working in beautiful facilities with great equipment. At first, I thought I needed some of this to practice, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the most valuable pieces of equipment are my brain, my hands, and my reliance on the Father.
- I also realized that really not a lot of space is needed to workout. I workout in a glorified closet at home…so why would I need a gym or fancy equipment? Is it nice? Yes! Necessary? No. I started my business in a rented room of an old house used by a small non-profit, with a borrowed table, linens from Amazon, my old laptop, a few hand weights and therabands, my goniometer from grad school, and a couple of borrowed chairs. I painted the room, put up a new light fixture, hung curtains, and later purchased a desk. Total business start-up? $1500. And it worked. Patients started coming to see me. They told their friends. Business grew. In just 8 months, I was able to hire someone part-time to help with marketing and communications, and a year later I was ready to open up my small clinic. It’s still not big, but there is room to grow as the business grows, and I’m able to remain a debt-free business so that at the end of the day, I’m making more working part-time running my own business than I was working part-time at my past jobs.
- Think out of the box – services. When I began my business, I had a traditional model of seeing patients in person, and also continuing with the fitness classes I had been teaching for the year prior. This was working well, but the reach I had was only so big. Though I had patients willing to drive 1-2 hours to see me, my radius was still fairly fixed. I am non-traditional in that I’m a cash-pay practice, and so I won’t be everyone’s first choice.
- A couple of months after beginning my business, I attended The Business Boutique in Nashville, TN with a dear friend and fellow entrepreneur. While there, I sat in a break-out session that was all about creating memberships or subscription services for businesses. I was annoyed b/c I signed up late and got stuck in this break-out session that felt completely inapplicable to my business. But God started turning my wheels, and suddenly I was dreaming about creating an online class. I had already identified two problems: women who have pelvic floor issues but are too busy to actually take the time to come in for an appt, and women who don’t have a local women’s health PT near them but need services. The solution: create a course that they can do from the comfort of their own home, on their own time, but with the accountability of being a part of the group to keep them moving forward, and with direct access to me as their personal PT.
It might seem wasteful to rent a clinic space and only be in it a couple of days a week, but I love it. I love having my own special space to see my patients, and I love that I can still be a mom at home with my kids. It might seem to make more sense to just teach online courses vs. taking on all the overhead costs, but seeing women in-person is what lights my passion for women’s health, it keeps my skills fresh, and it gives me the energy to keep sharing online and teaching online classes as I stay familiar with what is going on in the women’s health field.
To the world, it might not look like wise choices, but for me, it’s really the perfect balance of variety, and I love that I get to do what I’m passionate about the way I am led by the Lord to do it, and still make enough money that it is worth the time it takes me away from my home.
Check back next week for some ideas on how to get started, even if you’re not sure your ready yet;)