When all the high 5’s and congratulations rolled in after sharing our 10 year birthday milestone on Facebook last week, it made me sit down and really reflect about what it meant to me.
Firstly, 10 years is a long time. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. But overall it has been a worthwhile adventure.
How it all started
I was happily working at Proarch Podiatry in Cairns, new to my profession and eagerly learning, every spare minute spent on the touch footy or hockey field. After 2 years my boss Tyson approached me with the idea of setting up a franchise of Proarch Podiatry in Townsville. My thoughts immediately went to the fact that the touch comp in Townsville back then was better than Cairns so I put my hand straight up!
So in March 2007 I nervously opened my doors in Townsville. With encouragement and guidance from Tyson, I introduced training manuals, systems and procedures which put me in good stead from day one. After 2 years, it was a mutual decision that the franchise agreement would be ceased and I was to steer my own ship (suited me as I can be stubborn at times, especially when it comes to how I treat my patients). I am eternally grateful to Tyson for the opportunity he offered me in my early years of being in business. A few years after that I re-branded to Foundation Podiatry, allowing my true colours and ethos to resonate.
2 things they do not teach at uni – how to run a business and how to manage staff. Across my 10 years I have had a number of receptionists, all of which I have learnt something from. In my earlier days my receptionists were more like my mother: propping me up when I needed it, leaving notes for me at the end of the day, and pulling me into line (which I guess I deserved). As my business evolved and I grew as a leader, I required more and different attributes from my reception team. As the saying goes – everything happens for a reason – as difficult as this may be to see at the time. Whether my staff have stayed for a long time or a short time - I have made some life-long, dear friends in the process. Each and every person has helped me grow – professionally and personally. Special mention to my longest serving receptionist Su – you possibly know the true me better than anybody else – and deserve a medal for putting up with me!
At times over the years, when I have become over-whelmed allowing my direction to falter, I have been left wondering how much longer can I stick this out for?
But then I refer back to what a wise business coach impressed upon me – be strong with your WHY. WHY are you in business? I have a few WHY’s which keep me going:
Firstly, I’m fortunate to be one of the few people 12 years into their profession who are still really passionate about what they do. I need to feel that I am helping somebody, otherwise I cannot put my heart and soul into what I do. For me, it’s keeping people moving. Owning my own business allows me to manage patient care exactly how I want to, and provides opportunity for me to continue to do more courses and fuel my passion for Podiatry.
Secondly, I love to travel and experience different cultures. It’s what I daydream about. I’ve been fortunate to visit some amazing countries whilst owning my business (Nepal, Thailand, Egypt & Jordan, India, Africa, China, Vietnam & Cambodia and recent yoga trips to Bali). I hope to add many more to my list.
Thirdly, my business is now my vehicle for me to support my other passions – local, global and environmental. Since visiting Africa in 2011 I have donated regularly to an orphanage in Bulawayo. Most recently Foundation Podiatry has come on-board as platinum sponsors for Yoga Tools for Schools, a not-for-profit initiative to empower young children in Townsville to make positive choices.
During my first 8 years of business, I was a sole practitioner - meaning every pair of feet that walked through my doors I treated. That also meant I had complete control over my patients, so entertaining the idea of putting on another Podiatrist was a really big deal for me. I was happy to keep it simple and do it all myself. But as the business grew, burnout was tapping me on the shoulder. It became very apparent to me that even though I had a good business, if I was to get sick or injured I would very quickly find myself up the creek without a paddle.
So I ignored those thoughts and kept working, as you do. Then for a 9 month period I suffered an inflammatory back condition that made daily activities very difficult. Sitting in awkward positions to perform General Podiatry care was the most exacerbating factor for my back, so I was left with 2 options: I need help or I need to change my profession.
Thankfully, I opted for help. I took the lease on the shop next door, knocked down a few walls and expanded my clinic to allow another Podiatrist to join the team in January 2015. Which brings me to introduce Christine – my saviour. Hailing all the way from Ingham and boosting a friendly some-what country demeanour, my patients embraced her whole-heartedly, especially my regulars whom I’d been treating every 6 weeks for the last 8 years.
Since having Christine on-board, my work/life balance has improved and also my job satisfaction. I now only provide biomechanical/ postural Podiatry which is my strength. I also have days where I do not work ‘on the tools’ and instead have time to work on the business. I now realise that I cannot run a good business, continue to expand my own clinical skills, manage, mentor and grow the skills of my staff – and work full-time as a Podiatrist. I just can’t stretch myself that far and do a good job.
So upon reflection of my 10 years of business in Townsville, what are the 2 things I am most proud of?
Foundation Podiatry has grown into a holisitic, biomechanics focused clinic where we live up to our mantra: Active FEET > Active BODY > Active LIFE. We respect that all our patients are different and that a ‘one size fits all’ treatment approach often fails. Christine and I are passionate about continual learning. We are constantly expanding our treatment types and diagnostic equipment to ensure our patients achieve optimum results.
Secondly, through my risk-taking and dedication I now provide stable work for 3 people in Townsville - this gives me a great sense of achievement. Especially with Christine coming to me as a new-grad - I have been her mentor into her new career pathway. Seeing her improve and gain more confidence is a great feeling (albeit some tough love has been required at times ;).
Across the last decade I have also developed a close relationship with numerous allied health professionals who have greatly influenced my thought processes, and I am very grateful for their support.
So a lot has happened in 10 years of business. I’m very appreciative and grateful towards a lot of people – family and friends, my current and past staff, professional referrers, and certainly my loyal patients. Townsville is a wonderful place to run a small business, as long as you care and do the right thing by your customers the Townsville community are great supporters.
I think my best attributes which have helped me survive the 10 years are grit, determination and pride - 3 things I think I was born with. Ask my father – I lost my Grade 1 hockey grand final. Afterwards, the other kids in my team were eating lolly bags and running around, oblivious to what had just happened. I grabbed my hockey stick and my bag, walked to the car and didn’t say a word to Dad all the way home. He knew from that day that I was determined.