Hi folks, so here's the latest in my blog interview series, where I chat with other freedom-preneurs about their first baby steps in business.
The idea behind it is that by reading their stories, you can pick up some tips as you start out on your own business journey and get inspired!
This month I've been chatting with Naturopath and Medical Herbalist Rachel Boon, who swapped working as an administrator for running her own naturopathic practice.
So how long have you had your business?
12 years in total. My first 10 years were part-time alongside my 9-5, then in the last two years I took the plunge and went full-time freelance
Did you have any business background or experience before you started?
God no! Other than doing lots of temp secretarial jobs which meant I could type quickly, as I'm naturally fairly organised and MS Office literate.
What were the 3 most important things you invested in when you were starting out?
1) Good stock. I've always gone for organic or wild crafted herbs despite them being more expensive as I didn't want to compromise on quality.
2) Myself! I've always done more than the recommended CPD (Continuing Professional Development) hours as I feel it's important to keep up with developments in your respective field to feed back to patients.
3) Other than the above, I really had very little opening expenditure. Room rental was on a week by week basis, we already had a laptop, and I spent a little on stock.
Is there anything that you spent time/money on, that now with hindsight, you would do differently?
I wouldn't have spent a small fortune on a newspaper advert in a Health and Wellbeing Special. It was expensive and I only got one lead on the back of it. Also, printed materials. I designed and had printed some postcards which I then paid to be distributed locally as part of a multiple leaflet drop. Not a single call!
How did you get your first customers?
My very first patients were already using the clinic I was practicing from so it was via the receptionist team there. But over the years, I've got the vast majority of my patients via good old word of mouth.
It takes time but is free and ultimately, I feel it's one of the best forms of recommendation when it comes to something personal like 1:1 therapy.
What tips do you have for starting a business whilst still in your 9 to 5?
Don't give up! It takes time, patience and genuine love for what you do so make sure you are pursuing something that won't bore you in a few years time.
If I could change anything from my early days in practice, it would be to have more faith in myself and work less conservatively and more intuitively.
Also, boundaries! Try to keep to time on your appointments (even more so if you are still working hard at your 9-5 as time will be extra precious) so patients respect your professionalism and you learn to respect yourself! I over-ran ALOT in my early days!
You can check out Rachel's services at www.facebook.com/naturopathandherbalist
So do you know anyone who would like to share their story and lessons learned from their early days in business? Then ask them to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org