As we approach the opening of our brand new, state of the art physio and wellness centre, it is giving me a chance to stop and look back at the last 4 years since I established the business and began working from home.
It’s funny when you start something and it seems huge, and overwhelming, and a big deal, and a big risk, but when you look back it’s not that significant or amazing on reflection. I guess that applies to business and personal events or achievements… we are just simply at the edge of our comfort zone, pushing ourselves, taking a step into the unknown.
I didn’t know it then, but working from home, or more specifically, going self employed, has been the best move of my career without a shadow of a doubt. After being a physio for 25 years, I’d spent a long time being employed. It worked, it suited me, I knew what I was going to get in terms of salary at the end of every month. The hours were pre agreed and holiday requests were meticulously planned ahead. It was safe, it was secure.
But, when our youngest who was then almost 3 and about to start nursery, and was only offered a morning place (August baby, last dibs on places!), I realised doing more hours wasn’t quite the opportunity to increase my hours I’d planned.
Enter my dad stage left. Dad had been self employed pretty much all his life. He’s had lots of successful businesses, and when he offers advice, you listen. “Set up on your own” he said ……. What? Me? No-one will come and see me. Yes, I was busy in a private practice, but that’s because I was working under the umbrella of a big company. Wasn’t it? Apparently not!
Decisions were made, business cards were done, a website was built. We fumbled our way through logos, branding, uniform and paperwork. I can say fumbled now, because we made lots of mistakes along the way. We didn’t own our domain name, we didn’t have set brand colours, so before we knew it, what we thought our ‘green’ in our logo was, had evolved into about 10 different shades of green – different colours on appointment cards, website, leaflets, wall colour, uniforms, facebook page…. You get the idea. But making mistakes is part of the process – as long as we learn something from it. And wow, have a learnt stuff!
On a lighter note, I thought you’d like to hear some examples of incidents that have happened over the last few years, all because I was working from home.
- In the early days, I’d only go and get my uniform on just before a patient arrived. I was treating a patient – they were lying face down, when I spotted I still had my slippers on! I managed to kick them off and slide them into the ensuite while I was treating – the patient either didn’t notice, or was too polite to say anything.
- In the even earlier days, my treatment room was on our top floor, in one of our loft rooms, not ideal during a heat wave, when my patients and myself were lathered in sweat before we’d even talked about how they were doing…. Or when your next door neighbour’s teenage son, played the drums in the room next to the treatment room – not exactly conducive to a relaxing treatment. We were silently relieved when he went to university!
- Old animals… up until last year, we had two very old cats, Sage and Onion, who both lived to an amazing 19 years old. They would often yowl whilst I was working,patrolling in a confused and dazed state. Sometimes patients would ask if the kids were at home, and be a little concerned. And if the cats had used the litter tray while I was with a patient, you were often greeted by an unwelcome aroma .. I had to quickly clean the litter tray out in between patients.
- More old animals – my dad’s beautiful old golden retriever, Harvey, used to stay with us when they went away on holiday. The older he got, the more vocal, and if he heard the doorbell, he would bark, and bark, and bark! On a fully booked day, the doorbell could ring every 40 minutes or so! That’s a lot of barking! So I’d often try and intercept patients before they rang the bell!! Patients loved to see him in spite of his chorus, and we all miss him.
- Heathrow… working from home did not allow us to have a reception or waiting area. I tried to limit problems by having 15 minutes in between every patient, but you’d often have cars ‘circling’ outside waiting for the drive to become clear so the next one could park. Often new patients arrive super early.. you are then stuck with either asking them to wait in the car, letting them wait in the lounge.. I have 4 kids.. you can imagine.. not the professional image you’re going for. The drive. Everywhere round here is permit parking. The traffic wardens patrol the streets on their mopeds, hunting for unfamiliar vehicles. I always tell patients to park on the drive. But in the Heathrow moments, people either do circuits if they are early, or sit further down the street, and often get taps on their window! I’m showing my age, but this often reminds me of the programmes ‘Bread’ and ‘Butterflies’ with cars reversing and others pulling in!
- Ill children. 4 kids. They occasionally get ill. And if I cancel patients, I have no income, as well as the struggle to find another space to accommodate them in an already busy diary. The kids are old enough now to be snuggled on the sofa watching a movie if they have a temperature or are under the weather, but vomiting – you can’t leave them. Apart from about 3 years ago. Josh had been poorly on the Thursday, but seemed much better by the Friday – I had a full Saturday morning booked, and Mark, my hubby was taking the kids out while I was treating. 10 minutes before my patient arrived, Josh threw up. Too late to cancel, and Mark really needed to take the others out. So we tucked Josh up in our bed (adjoins the treatment room), and I spent an hour treating my patient, worried about him, wondering if he was ok. He was fine, and no more bouts of vomit. But a reminder of the challenges of juggling work and motherhood. You are torn as a mum and as a physio, and it often involves guilt!
- Kids again. Josh was 3 when I started the business. It was great when the kids were at nursery and school, but more challenging on an evening or a Saturday. “Sssshhh, mummy has a patient”, has been uttered so many times, and our kids have behaved pretty much amazingly. I am so looking forward to them having their space back, their way, not confined to the lounge. I’ve often been asked on a evening clinic was I sure my kids and hubby were in, cos they couldn’t hear a peep! What was my trick? They have been patient with my patients!
- Deliveries – our postman and I are friends! I’m always in, so I’m always here to take in deliveries, packages and parcels, both for us and our neighbours. He’s intercepted things sent to the wrong address, and he’s genuinely a lovely bloke. We’re inviting him to our launch party, I gave him a Christmas present, and I’ll miss our funny chats!
- More deliveries – you can imagine how much ‘stuff’ is being delivered ahead of the chapel opening. Our front room and garage is full of things waiting to be transferred across. One thing of importance being delivered was a doc m toilet pack – for those uninitiated, a doc m pack is a disabled access loo ‘kit’, coming with all things required – toilet, sink, rails etc. One day, whilst I was treating a patient, the doorbell rang. Not unusual, I excused myself to answer it. My patient was lying on her tummy with about 10 acupuncture needles in. I answered the door, to be met with a lorry and the delivery – on a palette! Manual handling a rather heavy item not meant to be carried off the palette, into our hallway, made for an interesting 5 minutes. Luckily the delivery driver was in good humour that day – and so was my patient, whom I’d known for years.
- There is always something to do at home. I tempted fate, and said in the September I started, I would sit outside in the sun when I was quiet. That. Never. Happened. Which is ok by me, as it means I’m doing something right. But, I can always stick a load of washing on, make soup, prepare the tea, in between patients, or if someone cancels. I will miss that a little bit, but I will just have to be more organised! Even considering a slow cooker – what are your thoughts? Soggy, soft food or handy and lovely?
- Diary mix ups. We’re human, I’m human, and mix ups occur. In 4 years it’s only happened three times, two of which were completely my fault. I was at the vets with Monty, one of our dogs for a check up, when my mobile rang. A patient who had travelled from Newcastle, was outside the front door for her appointment! I arrived swiftly and all was well. On another occasion, I answered the door to my next patient, with another patient behind her.. awkward moment! One patient had arrived 24 hours early, so came the next day! Most recently, I’d checked my diary and worked out I had time to pop over to the chapel and take the dogs out before the school run. I left the house with the dogs, and a lady in a car further down the road waved at me. When I got closer I realised it was a patient! Another awkward moment… poor dogs were rather confused when I ushered them back in, moved the car off the drive and treated my patient! We both saw the funny side.
- More diary challenges. Mark and I both see patients at home. We have designated days but we often both work on a Tuesday evening or Saturday morning – that’s a lot of co-ordinating! I can’t wait til we have a treatment room each!!
Thank you North End, thank you home. You’ve allowed me to grow my business to a point where we can take the leap to premises. Part of me will miss it here, but I am more looking forward to going ‘out’ to work, being part of a team again and taking my lunch to work!
I’m sure it will bring new, different challenges, but I am ready, excited and can’t wait to welcome you.
Thank you for being part of my journey. If you’d like to contact me, either to come to our launch party, make an appointment or come and see our space to rent at the chapel, find out more at www.tayloredfitphysio.co.uk or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you at the chapel x