22 Sep The Road to Better Movement
We had the chance to sit down and talk to John from Better Movement Clinic. He gave some great insight into some of the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur and what it’s like running a Rural Clinic.
Was having your own business always a dream for you? Did you always want to work for yourself?
I haven’t always wanted to run a business. I started thinking about running an Exercise Physiology clinic once I started university. I went into a dual degree with business and thought I should put my knowledge to the test rather than in a security blanket of someone else’s business.
How hard was it get your business up and running?
To get started, no it wasn’t, finding a couple of GP clinics and networking to find a space to work from wasn’t difficult for me. To grow the business, was the hard part. I started in the clinic one day a week in a separate town to where I was working for someone else. I then went to two days a week and then took the plunge and my sole income was the clinic.
If you had a list of what the hardest parts of starting a business were, what would it include?
CASH FLOW. At the beginning, I made multiple mistakes that I should have known better. Stretching myself too thin in multiple centres was not a good move. I had capital to start with but that quickly runs out if you are pumping it into the fuel tank.
Knowing what your unique selling point is at the beginning and not straying from it. My brain thinks of a new idea and a new plan and dives into it. This unfortunately takes you away from what you thought of first (which is often what you love doing the most).
What drove you to overcome the challenges of starting your own business?
Passion, I love being an Exercise Physiologist and I love rural health. Sometimes, when you hit the lows of running a business, the passion for the community and your clients holds you up whilst you go through the slump. Another one is the passion of my team. They stick with me because they love the vision of Better Movement Clinic. My team sticking with me
pushes me to drive the business forward.
What parts of the whole process excited you?
What excites me the most is not the process but where we are going. Seeing what my team and I are striving towards excites me. What Better Movement Clinic strives for is equality in health care, no matter the geographic location. Our plan will be tough (as all things are in rural towns) but can be achieved.
Now that you have been up and running for a couple of years what have been the highlights?
Highlights would be the start of the Dalby clinic, it was to be an outreach, one day a week clinic, but has grown past its expectations and we are out there four days a week.
Another highlight is bringing other team members into the clinic. They bring skills and experiences that I don’t have and bring a breadth and depth to Better Movement Clinic.
Have there been any lows?
Ironically, bringing on new team members; if you don’t cover all bases, it can hurt. We didn’t come through with contracts that were expected at the time, and this hurt the cash flow and the immediate case load of the new team member.
If you had to go back and change something what would it be?
Slow down and plan. I wanted the end result so bad but didn’t set in place a plan to get there. Thinking of ideas on the fly and driving all over the country side didn’t help. Plan, plan, plan. As soon as I started planning everything, I reached one year goals within three months.
What would you class as the biggest challenge in starting your business?
The biggest challenge is keeping on top of finances, making sure those large companies are paying on time so that I can plan to grow the business and pay the bills.
In terms of marketing – did you know what you needed to do? Or what did you find the most difficult aspect of marketing your own business?
I had little to no marketing at the start. I had little to no idea where to start either. I was running a poor attempt at a blog and riding the coat tails of my reputation. There was a time during the growth of the business that my reputation was not always going to work. I didn’t yet have the grasp of developing raving fans and marketing, not at a demographic but at a specific target, I was floundering, throwing pins at a board and just hoping they would stick. The most difficult part for me was developing a strong marketing plan to back up my unique selling point. Nowadays, each social media post, including those off handed comedic release posts are in line with end goal of the vision and mission of Better Movement.
As a rural operator, what do you think are the unique challenges you face?
Where do I start… Time – travel time between centres isn’t covered by funding, which hurts the bank balance and hurts the team members that are driving those kilometres to service the town. We have a geographic reach but the opportunities which we are asked to cover are so vast that sometimes, we are not able to fulfill all opportunities. This breaks my heart that services aren’t reaching these communities due to time and cost. In the future, Better Movement will find a way to resolve this issue.
Availability of referral pathways – once you go west not every town that you visit has a permanent GP or even a medical visiting service. This continuous change with locum GPs does hurt the continual referral pathways.
We have seen a slow improvement with the inclusion of nurse practitioners, but it still is not enough for these rural towns. Better Movement and other rural Allied Health providers have had to come up with innovative ways and marketing procedures to maintain the continuation of care and maintain referral pathways.
Literacy is another major problem: education levels and socio-economic status is poor. We have developed initiatives for putting our faces on everything. This enables the clients and the community to associate the intervention/ program to a face. This helps with marketing and promotion as I am now “that exercise guy” in multiple small (blink and you’ll miss it) towns throughout Queensland.
If you had any advice for AEPs out there trying to grow their own business, what would it be?
Know what you want, sit down and plan how you are going to get there, and decide what your unique selling point / niche is early on. Also to know your numbers, you can’t expect the unexpected if you can’t see where you are flying.
Are you excited for the future? What’s next for Better Movement?
Better Movement is super excited for the future. We have just added Dry Needling services, which is going gang busters.
We will have some more exciting things planned for the future. We hopefully have more services joining the team in the new financial year, however we are waiting for signatures and contracts before we jump for joy on this.