Tell us a bit about your family?
My daughter Elizabeth had just turned 2 she and I live in Chelmsford. I am a working single parent.
What is your business called?
BIA Sports Therapy UK
Can you describe it in one sentence?
I provide Sports Massage Therapy in various clinics throughout Essex.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
After having my daughter I decided to leave my job as a Police Officer. When she turned 1 I realised I wanted to go back to work but was unsure what path to take. I wanted a job that would fit around my family so I could carry on being a full time Mum but work at evenings and weekends to earn a bit of money for holiday spending and so on.
I gained a bachelors degree in sport science in 2003 and also felt I wanted to do more in the therapy and injury rehabilitation area but never had the money to study again. In September 2014 I returned to college and gained an advanced level 4 diploma in Sports Massage. I followed this up with qualifications in first aid, sports strapping and taping and pregnancy massage.
In May 2015 I launched my business trading from my home studio in my garage.
However when I moved out of the family home in September with my daughter I no longer had the space, I found a position at a local Sports Therapy Clinic doing administration 1 day a week on a self employed basis. I started renting a treatment room at the clinic to treat my clients.
How did you fund your start up?
The college course cost me £1250 which I paid for using savings from maternity pay whilst I was still in the police.
My husband funded the my start up equipment. A massage couch, towels, oils couch roll, uniform tops and business cards. This costs around £300. He was then happy to find my further qualifications which cost around a further £300.
How do you manage working around your children?
I separated from my daughters father in May 2015. This meant that I had to change my business plan and working arrangements. We have an arrangement that allows me to work four days in the week now. Three days whilst Elizabeth is in nursery, one night at her Dads so I can work into the evening at a clinic. Then she goes to her Dads on Fridays nights so I can work a Saturday morning at a clinic. On alternate weekends Elizabeth stays with her Dad through to Sunday night. This allows me to see my own clients Saturday afternoon and Sunday (if I am not playing rugby).
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
My working week is spilt between what I think of as four jobs. Administration and
1. Marketing for a Sports Therapy Clinic I’m contracted to 8 hours a week. I can work in the clinic or from home, editing website content making Facebook and Twitter ads, invoicing customers for the clinic.
2. Sports massage therapy at a chiropractic clinic. This is a great role for me whilst I going through such an unstable period. I am gaining intense practical experience in a clinical setting with other therapists and chiropractors to help develop my skills. I have three 6 hour shifts here a week. They try fill my diary but I only get paid for the clients I treat.
3. Private client Massage Therapy. I see anything from 2 to 10 private massage clients a week. Renting a room at the local clinic I do admin for. I fit my clients into my days between the other work I am committed to.
4. Business administration and marketing for BIA Sports Therapy. This is my time filler. When I don’t have to look after my daughter I am doing business admin. Marketing developing my website which I created from scratch online, Facebook, Twitter, creating new offers and deals, setting up client files and maintaining them, invoicing receipts and keeping up stock supply of oils and so on. This part of my work if great for the time when my daughter in bed and there’s nothing on TV.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
My first challenge is finding clients. I rely heavily on word of mouth. I have had to develop good working relationships with local gym owners, sports clubs and even the emergency services social clubs locally.
Trying to maintain a consistent flow of clients is hard. For this reason I decided to work within a clinic setting where they do the marketing and bookings for my shifts. This has taken a huge weight off my shoulders gives me a consistent regular income.
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
I love being in control of my hours and not taking orders from anyone else. I struggled in the past working in restrictive roles where I couldn’t use my creative or interpersonal skills. Now I get to use both, talking to clients, marketing my business and of course making money! I’ve never been more determined to succeed in anything.
What are your plans for the future?
Short term I want to grow my own regular client base. Continue working with the other clinics to develop my therapy skills and business skills.
Long term I dream of owning my own clinic and employing other therapist.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Word of mouth is free marketing. Get to know local business owners who are happy to work with you and advertise your business. I’ve given free massage vouchers to charity auctions at sports clubs. These are a great way to bring in new clients.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Don’t give up. It takes time and your originally plans may not work out. You have to be adaptable and find other ways to bring in he clients and the money!