You may recall a year ago I wrote a blog post on my first year in my small business and what it had taken to get the ball rolling and to get my idea off the ground. For reference, take a quick look here.
So now I find myself 2 years into my venture and I start to reflect on what this journey has actually involved for me. In fact it’s been a much longer journey than 2 years.
I decided when I was about 15 years old that I wanted to be a Physiotherapist. I was a rugby player and I wanted to be the Physio for a sports team. I think a lot of my colleagues in our profession start with a similar goal in mind. For me, I was so certain it was what I ultimately wanted to do, I started my own process of gaining work experience in the field.
I knew from an earlier age that I wanted to be a business owner. This was built on a respect for my father’s business ethics and success and I knew that in some capacity, I wanted to do my best in life to emulate that.
The steps that followed were larger, more diverse, more challenging and more demanding than I could have imagined at that young age. Naturally, you can’t anticipate or predict your life, regardless of how many spreadsheets and business and education guides you read.
I didn’t make it into my Physio course out of school. I missed it by a very small margin. This was tough for me. It shook me a bit as I had spent the previous 3 years already working towards that point as a teenage boy. I had to slot into an alternative university course to bridge my way across. I hated the course and it held very little relevance to me and my dream, so I began to miss classes, drop units, fail units and ultimately, exit the course.
As I spent the next 6 months stacking shelves in a supermarket, contemplating what on earth would be my next move, I resigned to the fact that I could no longer be a Physio. It just didn’t seem like the world felt the same as I did. So with so little life experience, I changed my direction and enrolled in 3 different courses – Viticulture, Archeology, Pharmacy. I know right?
I couldn’t feel anything but disappointed at that stage. I had tasted defeat and the bitterness of what it meant to have a dream (youthful as it was) taken away. I didn’t like that feeling much, but recognised it was a part of life. I decided that all the books, notes, videos and conversations I had had with my “mentors” at that stage would have to be thrown away.
Those who know me, will know that I don’t like to give up. I work for what I believe in. But at 19 years old, with no money and no real idea of what life was about, and a potentially successful rugby career ahead of me, I opted to stay where I was and let go of my dream.
Now, at this stage I stop and say – DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS. That’s the current James speaking. Not the 19-year-old James. But, again, at that age it’s difficult to really know which way to go.
But as if by a stroke of fate, a few weeks before I was set to commence study in a Pharmacy degree, a trusted friend informed me that a new Physiotherapy course was commencing at another University. Fast forward a few weeks and as my mum delivered my acceptance letter to me in the supermarket car park, my boss happily encouraged me to throw in the store job and get on with my life.
The rest is history as far as that’s concerned. The ensuing years hardened my resolve to succeed in a profession I felt more and more passionate about with each University year.
Now, there have been more trials along the way. I have been overworked, underpaid, taken advantage of, chewed up, spat out, doors closed in my face, supports taken from under and around me, disappointed, lied to, challenged professionally, challenged ethically and many more things along the way. But, what I learned as a 19 year old, was that for every disappointment and challenge, grows a desire and drive that can not be taken away. That’s what each of us has inside us. Not all of us get to discover it though. It has to be looked for, and it has to be peeled out from inside.
I never gave up on my goal. Sure, I looked elsewhere, including to the heavens at times! But inside myself, I kept my eye on the prize. I drew pictures of my ideal clinic, I drew logos, thought of names, imagined business models, imagined happy patients and ultimately, imagined a happy me in my profession and career.
And you know what, as hard as it is to look back on the challenges and sheer desperation that was experienced in the past 10 years, I can confidently say, they have lead me forwards. I wanted to give up, and I did for a little while, but only to clear my head and re assess my path through the jungle. I used all those disasters as fuel for the journey.
And as I look back on it now, Although the road was frequently winding, there have been as many, if not more amazing experiences along the way as there were blind corners. Sure, I remember the bad things, but they are now considered good things because of the effect they have had on me.
So here I sit, with the 2nd anniversary of my business upon me. It has been more time consuming than the first year, but it has been exponentially more rewarding. I care not to list the specific figures this time around like my first year review, because there are too many! But, here is a list of some of the awesome things that have happened in my second year of business.
- I have the most incredible list of patients who I have been able to work with and help
- I have a member of staff that I have recently hired who shares the same values and principles as me which is an extraordinary thing to find
- I am on the verge of opening my second clinic
- I have created an international network of like-minded professionals to support my passion of snow related injury prevention and management
- I have travelled domestically and internationally to further my professional and business potential
- I have collaborated with some incredibly gifted professionals supporting my business development, marketing and patient management
- I’m not going to tell you how many hours I work each week
- I have discovered the priceless benefit of a good night’s sleep
- I have reinforced strong and necessary relationships with my clinical and business mentors as these people are pivotal in my life
- I have been tired beyond tired
- I have been confused, uncertain, worried, nervous and all the other things that come from making your own way
- I have been blown away by the excitement, reward and discovery of my second year as a business owner
So, have my thoughts on what it takes to run a successful business changed in the past 12 months? Let’s see
- Be prepared to work hard
- Be prepared to accept failure
- Be prepared to lose
- Be prepared to brush yourself off and try again
- Take care of yourself
- Take care of your clients – they are more important than you will ever recognise
- Sleep well
- Plan, plan, plan. Review, review, review
- Celebrate the wins, it’s too easy to let them slide past
- Be passionate, always, and never lose sight of who you are and what you set out to achieve
And my biggest tip – stick with it. It doesn’t happen quickly!
For more info, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org