How to Survive in Business for 21 Years
As the business owner of Me-Time Therapies, I went into self employment with no idea on how to run a business. Twenty one years later, I am still running my own business doing Complementary Therapies and have expanded the business to teaching short courses in Complementary Therapies.
In 1996, there was no organisation like WES that would help inspire and support me in the early stages of my business. Complementary Therapies back then was also a new career path. There were very few therapists around to get support from. Looking back it was a risky career choice and with faced with negativity and lack of support; I had to find the determination, persistence and sheer obstinacy to trust my own judgement. ‘If it feels right for me’ has become my motto. If I feel my heart getting excited about a new venture, then I trust that and have faith in my decision. If I feel my heart sinking, then I know not to pursue that venture as I do not feel passionate about it.
The first three years in business was a huge learning curve but it also allowed me to find out which areas of the business I enjoyed and was most passionate about. I looked at my skill set and knew running and managing a Therapy centre wasn’t for me but had to consider other streams of income to give longevity to the business. I enjoyed passing on my knowledge of Massage, Reflexology and Aromatherapy to community groups. I decided to develop my teaching skills so I went back into education to get an Advanced Certificate in Teaching.
There’s no doubt that the ways in which businesses are run and marketed and has changed immensely over the past 20 years. It used to be an exciting day opening the new Yellow Pages and seeing my Complementary Therapies advert. This is no longer the case. All marketing is now done via my website and social media. I am a firm believer in continually evolving and learning to stay ahead in business. I recognised one of my weaknesses was not having the skill set to design and update my website. In order to continue to grow the business, I recognised I needed a better online presence. Last Autumn, with the help of Digital Boost via Business Gateway, I was given training to help and design a new website and how to improve my social media presence. Without this training, I would have never had the confidence to build a website. Business Gateway is offering free training courses to established businesses to help them to move forward into the modern digital world.
I would have really liked a Mentor when I first set up in business to provide me with support and encouragement. I can really see the value of Mentoring so in the last year, I have joined the Employer Mentoring Programme at Queen Margaret University. I felt I had acquired knowledge over the past 20 years that could inspire and encourage students into the world of self employment. I have also offered Mentoring workshops to newly qualified therapists who are feeling daunted in running their own therapy business. I feel a great sense of achievement by helping others to accomplish the goals that matters to them.
Even after 21 years in business, I still feel self-employment isn’t encouraged. For me, it has great advantages as you can set your own goals and action them without having to get approval from management. You can work the hours that suit you best. I don’t mind working in evenings as that gives me free time during the day to go for a walk or go to a Pilates class.
I also have recognised the importance of looking after your own wellbeing. It can be difficult to switch off from work even more so with the invention of smart phones. You can easily become addicted to checking emails and social media. You can end up running on empty and lose the passion you have for your business. In my diary, I plan lunches, have a massage, book on a cooking or foraging course. This allows me to really recharge my batteries.
I have also started training in Mindfulness. By staying in the present moment, using Mindfulness strategies, it has helped me focus better on achieving my goals. It has also reduced my fears and anxiety of not knowing what is going to happen in the future.
A piece of advice would be ‘Don’t wait for the perfect conditions to set up in business as they will never arise. It is far better to get started and move forward with what you have and then let the business develop from there’.
To conclude, I believe to survive in business, you need to be self-disciplined, have passion and perseverance but also ask for help when you need it.
Geraldine McCullagh @ Me-Time Therapies