It has officially been one year since my business opened. This was never in the plan. In fact, I am on the record saying that I would never ever want to operate my own physical therapy clinic. I did not want the headache of dealing with insurance, marketing etc
And yet here I am! Forced into a corner after getting laid off at the onset of the pandemic and seeing no new jobs on anywhere on the horizon. What few jobs popped up were not in my field of outpatient orthopedics, and my resume never even got a call back. It truly seemed like my only option to keep my license active and to see patients was to go find them on my own.
I was quite terrified to do this, and yet felt like I got pulled along by an invisible thread. I didn’t hem and haw too much – once I decided that this was my only option, I jumped in head first. I wrote a previous blog post in here (Strength in Numbers) about all the help and assistance I received along the way to make this a reality. A shared space to rent, helpful mentors who had already gone down the paths I needed to travel and who helped light the way, friends and family who encouraged and advised me, and new contacts that helped spread the word. Flourish came together through the support of a large network of people.
And now, a year into it, after a very slow start and months where I only saw zero, one or two patients, I’ve now made more in one month than I did in all five months of operation in 2020! The marketing efforts and word of mouth have started to take root. My goals are modest – I’m only really working one day a week right now – but they are being met. I’m starting to fill up that one day each week, and hopefully will need to add a second full day by the fall. Working two days a week while staying home with my kids the other days has been a sweet spot in the work/life balance for me.
As I look back on the past year and feel the momentum picking up, I feel absolutely grateful. The circumstances aligned just so to make this even a possibility. Getting laid off and the extra unemployment assistance kept my family afloat through last year. Having a spouse who kept his job and brought in money was vital. The extra pandemic assistance came in very handy for us, as we were on a much tighter budget than usual without my typical income. Having a kind and selfless family member babysit the kids for my one day of work every week allowed me to work on the business and keep the meager income I received at first without having to spend it all on childcare.
I can certainly take some credit for my success. I chose to go slow with my spending and not get all the tools and toys I would have liked immediately. I just bought myself a laptop to keep at work instead of using my personal laptop and carting it back and forth each time (which also means I can now ride my bike to work again – yay!). I learned about SEO and modified my website to get those Google searches, opened and managed several social media accounts to get the word out. I reached out to lots of local health and wellness providers to network. I made fliers and passed out cards around town. And, most importantly, I made sure to be available and attentive to my clients, did the best job I know how with each one, and provided high quality care.
But despite my hard work, I don’t feel like I can take much credit. Flourish simply wouldn’t exist without the timing, circumstances, and assistance I’ve had along the way. If I were a single mom, or if my husband was also laid off or didn’t make enough money, or if we didn’t get those extra handouts last year, we would have been in complete panic, worried about keeping the lights on and food on the table. I’m in a privileged position that allowed Flourish the time it has needed to take root. I had the luxury of not absolutely needing to make a profit right away.
So for that, I am beyond grateful. I’m thankful to my husband and my family who have helped, thankful to the people that stepped up and helped me out along the way, thankful to my clients who have been spreading the word, thankful, thankful, thankful.
It is such a gift, an absolute blessing, to work for myself. To get to call the shots, to treat patients exactly as they need – nothing more, nothing less, to have time to spend with each client without rushing in a mad dash for productivity, to set my schedule and my dress code, to be allowed to think and act out of the box.
In situations like mine, where suffering led to what appears to be a better outcome, people like to say that it was meant to be. I don’t know that I totally agree with that sentiment. It would have been nice to never have gotten laid off. It would have been nice to not have been more worried about finances than ever before in the lifetime of my marriage.
And it’s true that I would not have done this any other way. I was planning on never opening my own business, planning to work for other companies for the duration of my career. I would be in a safer, in some ways less stressful, financially stronger position at my previous employers.
I think what happens simply happens, and we get to chose how to react. I was pretty traumatized getting laid off the first time. I could have let that take me down hard. I could have stayed on unemployment and hung out at home with my kids without the side hustle. I decided to do this thing, and it seems to be working out, although I’m very aware of the statistics of businesses that make it vs. fail, and the high percentage that don’t make it past the first year, or the first five years.
I don’t know what the future will bring. I hope Flourish will continue to live up to its name, and that I will be able to keep helping people in this new style. And I know that to say life is unpredictable is a huge understatement. Whatever happens in this random crapshoot we call life will happen, and I’ll get the chance to decide how to react yet again. And for now, I am so damn grateful.