10 years ago as a newly graduated Naturopath, Angela Counsel set out to change the world.
Having started up a number of successful business and written a best selling book “Secret Mums’ Business” Angela is now totally focussed on working with women to be healthy, vital and happy.
To find out more about what Angela does head over to her website
Are you thinking about starting a business? Want to find out more about what it takes to get started? Then head over to www.healthynumbers.com.au/bsrq/ and take the Business StartUp Readiness Quiz
To listen to my interview with Angela on:
iTunes click here
Stitcher click here
If you want to listen to the interview right here on the Healthy Numbers website click here
Or you can read the entire transcript of Angela’s interview here.
My guess is that you are here because you are curious about what it might be like to start a business?
Perhaps you’ve been wondering if you have what it takes? If your idea will work or even how much it actually costs to build a successful business?
I’ve written a book that can answer pretty much all your questions “So You Want to Start a Business” and you can download the first 20 pages at www.thestartupsteps.com
15 years of experience working with start up businesses are condensed into this book.
It’s your step by step guide to launch your business smarter and faster and I’m so excited to be sharing it with you and can’t wait to hear about your progress.
Are you ready to grab your excerpt? Click here www.thestartupsteps.com
Happy reading! Now here is the full transcript of the podcast.
Ingrid: Hello Angela and thanks so much for joining us today for an interview.
Angela: Thanks so much for having me. I am really excited and looking forward to this.
Ingrid: So it’s Angela Counsel. Could you just describe what your business is please?
Angela: I’m a naturopath and I’ve been one for the last 10 years, but I’m very specific in what I do because I work with female entrepreneurs who are stressed. I believe there are only a couple of those out in the world (laughs). But I don’t just work on the emotional side of stress I also work on the physical and spiritual side. I look at you as a whole person and look at why your body is stressed and why it’s causing you symptoms and possibly not being able to run your business properly. Because so many women are overwhelmed and it’s starting to affect their business. And we get to the end of the year like we are now and they are all just running around like zombies.
Ingrid: Yes yes. I am sure there are a few people listening who can relate to that who aren’t entrepreneurs as well. Angela, when did you start your business and why?
Angela: I have been a naturopath for 10 years and before that I actually was a corporate escapee. My background is a qualified accountant and I worked in corporate for over 20 years as a project manager but I also worked in financial institutions, telecommunications, all that type of stuff but it was really…what happened was I tried to fall pregnant. I had problems falling pregnant and I miscarried, and then I realised how much stress was affecting me. And somewhere out of, I don’t know where, this idea of becoming a naturopath came to me. I didn’t really know anything about naturopathy, so I went off and studied, and gave up the corporate world because I studied full time. I had 2 babies, and as I was studying people were always asking me what I was going to do when I was finished. And I said I was going to go into business myself. To me that was the only option I had. I didn’t want to work in a health food store. There weren’t many jobs in those days working in other people’s clinics, because back then they just didn’t employ people like they do now. So I decided to open my own business and I was in for a really big shock. Because being an accountant I thought I knew it all, I’d done marketing, and all that stuff. But then I learned that everything you learned in a book doesn’t always work in real life.
Ingrid: One of the questions I wanted to ask, you knew you were going to have your own business, but what did you want that business to give you from day one? When you were starting it off, what did you expect the business to give you?
Angela: Freedom. Flexibility.
Angela: Because at the time I had two very young children. My eldest at the time was about 3 and my youngest was 18 months. They were in day-care a couple of days a week. I thought well running a business will be easy. I’ll have the flexibility, see clients, make some money and I’ll still be able to spend time with my children.
Ingrid: Very nice.
Angela: But it doesn’t work that way. It was a fairytale.
Ingrid: It is a fairytale. When did you think you were in business? I’ve asked people this question and it can be at a different point in time, but when did it feel like a business? As you say, you were an accountant so you knew what a business looked like and felt like and smelt like, but when did you feel that your business actually was a business?
Angela: It wasn’t for a couple of years. When I very first went into business and opened my practice I rented a room out of a chiropractic clinic and I didn’t really do much. I had a few clients, but then I opened up my clinic. It was a multimodality clinic, it had 8 practitioners in it and a yoga studio. That was a big business and that was when I realised what running a business was all about. It wasn’t about being a naturopath anymore, it was actually about me having to manage all of these people, make sure there was income coming through, that I was marketing the business, that we had a really great reputation, and that was when I really had to learn more about how to run a business. That was not the same as being a naturopath. Two totally different things.
Ingrid: It’s not the same. So that was a couple of years in when you opened that clinic. So just curious, but how did you fund – when you were a naturopath hiring a room, I presume you saw clients that paid for the hire of the room – then you did this expansion to the clinic. Without being too personal, where did that money come from?
Angela: I funded it though our housing loan. Because I went to the bank for funding and unless I wanted $100,000, which I didn’t, they said here’s a MasterCard, and we’ll give you $10,000. But I needed more than that. So when I looked at what it was, and housing rates, and we had a line of credit on our housing loan, it was better for me to draw against that loan as we had plenty of equity and interest rates were low.
Ingrid: So the housing loan funded it. Fabulous.
Angela: Yes it did. With the clinic I had to build an interior, it was blank shell when we moved in so we had to build everything. Basically I did that through our housing loan.
Ingrid: That’s quite nice going into a blank shell and you could design exactly what you wanted.
Angela: Going into it was great, coming out wasn’t. We had a few issues coming out.
Ingrid: Did you sell it?
Angela: No, because I was leasing the premises. I just moved to smaller premises but there was an issue because according to the lease I had to pull everything out. But then the landlord said you can leave it there but we will charge you. And then he was going to charge more rent because it was already fitted out. So we had a few issues, coming out. I didn’t really want to have to take everything out again because that’s expensive, so we did eventually leave it all there, and he rented it out with the fit-out in there. And we had a bit of a legal battle to get an agreement as how much he was going to pay me because he basically withheld all of my bond.
Ingrid: So you did the improvements, but the lease said you had to ‘make good’.
Angela: Yes, but the lease also said the landlord could agree for the fit-out to stay, which he did, but then he wanted me to pay for it to stay, while he made more money renting it again because it was a fitted- out premises.
Ingrid: We learn a lot of lessons in business, don’t we? (laughs)
Angela: Commercial leases, I’ve learned a lot about commercial leases. (laughs)
Ingrid: Let’s look at your customers. Because 10 years ago naturopathy was very embryonic, it was still out there with the ‘woo woo’ stuff.
Angela: It still is.
Ingrid: So how did you know that people wanted what you were offering and how did you find customers? And how do you find customers now?
Angela: Originally I didn’t think about that. All I thought about was what I wanted to know. How the body worked, I truly believe the body knew how to heal itself so I wanted to learn about that. If I want to know that, then others must too. To be honest, I didn’t even think about it. But when I opened my big clinic it was all about new mums, and having a one-stop natural therapy shop for new mums. I knew when I was pregnant if I wanted to see a naturopath I had to go to one place, if I wanted a massage therapist I had to go to a different place, so I knew if I wanted everything in one place, I wasn’t the only one.
Because I also created my business in the area l lived in, I knew the demographics and most of the women in my area had been in corporate, they had children later in life, they quite often don’t have family around, and when they have their children they fall apart because they’ve lost all control. When they were working they had this control so I knew there was more of me out there. So that’s what I created to start with and that clinic just took off because so many women looking for this type of stuff. And now, once again when I’m working with women stressed and burnt out, it’s because I’ve been there and I know their story, and I know what they are feeling like. I can get into their heads, and I know what I was looking for at the time, and someone else is looking for that as well. Whenever its come to business, if this is something I want, there is more than one of me out there so that’s what I build.
Ingrid: So you build and also attract more then just replicas of yourself.
Angela: Everything is around my values and I attract people with similar vales to me who want to be healthy and they want to run their business. And their family is important too, but they just don’t know how to make it all work.
Ingrid: Fantastic. So for new customers, do you use word of mouth, do you advertise? Where do these people find you?
Angela: I actually do very little private one-on-one now, I’ve almost closed my book down. I do most of my stuff via workshops, I speak, I have online programs and I write books. My main business style these days is more about education rather then treating. I only have a very limited number of clients were I physically treat them and we work through what’s going on in their health. Most of the stuff I do is education. I speak a lot, I love speaking. My main passion, it’s the reason I stopped being a clinical naturopath, because I wanted to teach and speak. I’ve also written a book and I’m writing another book on stress right now. That’s how people find me, they read my book, then they come to my website, they come to one of my workshops, and they do my online program. I have a retreat coming up in 20016. Those people that want to take the next step up to the top level with me, they will, but that’s limited, but that’s also priced high end.
Ingrid: I notice from your website you have option 1, option 2, how to work with me…. you have various options. In terms of pricing strategy, when people get into naturopathy, those helping professions, there is such a disparity in the pricing, isn’t there? So how did you choose a pricing strategy and how do you think about pricing?
Angela: What I do now, and what I did in the past, is totally different to what I do now. I do everything as a program and it’s based on outcomes. So I price according to an outcome. So if I have a client and I do an initial case history, there’s a set fee or that, then I learn about the client and what they are looking for, and I create a personalised package based on what they require for the outcome they want.
Ingrid: And how did you set your price initially?
Angela: When I first started it was a certain price, and it was an individual session, and some people wouldn’t show, and you’d ring them, and you spent the whole time chasing new clients all the time. I started doing packages when I was still in clinic and that really grew my clinic unbelievably, by just doing packages. For example, I had one client doing the program and they’d go to work and everyone wanted to do the same program. At one point I had 50 from Virgin Mobile, because one client came in and got great results so they all wanted to do the program.
Ingrid: And they were all pretty stressed over at Virgin Mobile (laughs).
Angela: And now it’s more personalised because I don’t have many private clients, I can actually build a package which includes my time and my products. It includes everything and it’s a one-off and they pay a monthly fee basically to have me as their health practitioner for an amount of time to give them an outcome. Its all results based.
Ingrid: Its all results based. That’s fabulous. So very different to trading hours for dollars.
Angela: Exactly and that’s what burns you out, forever chasing new clients. I work with other health practitioners and I’m trying to shift their mindset to chasing clients continually to putting 12-15 week programs in place, so they have clients committed to getting results. That’s what you need. If people aren’t committed to getting a result, then from a business point of view, there is nothing to hang your hat on because they only come in once or twice. It gets too hard and they don’t come back.
Ingrid: Yes. I’m sure from your business, from what you are offering, it takes more then a week or two for them to see results anyway. It takes a 2 or 3 month commitment.
Angela: Exactly. People ask how long till I feel better, and I ask, ‘well how long have you been feeling sick?’ The rule of thumb is one week for every month you’ve been feeling sick. Many people don’t realise they’ve probably been feeling sick for many many years. Then they start to feel better and then they realise what feeling better feels like.
Ingrid: Its that sort of boiling frog thing, they don’t realise how awful they are feeling. I’m sure a lot of people are resonating with this Angela. Let’s just shift the question to your exit strategy. Do you have one? Do you think about what you want to do? Is this a business you want to go on forever?
Angela: Interesting you ask this question. I have my own pod cast and this same conversation came up with a financial advisor about 2 days ago. To be honest I haven’t thought that far. Not really about an exit strategy for me, but more about how I’m going to grow the business, because what I’m looking for is for it not to be totally reliant on me. At the moment my name is the business, so I’m looking to see where can I put other practitioners in who can deliver my content so they can do the treatments so I don’t have to do the treatments and make all that work. That’s what I’m thinking of at the moment. I love doing private working with clients but I have so many requests that I can’t do it all, because I don’t want to burn myself out. But I’d love to be able to put other practitioners in who understand what I’m trying to do. Which basically leaves me to run the retreats and speaking and workshops. The next step will be can I put coaches in to do that stuff as well – I’m actually thinking about how that can work. It’s not clear but it’s something I’m thinking about.
Ingrid: I think it’s not something many businesses think about, it’s mostly about getting from month to month, week to week, or client to client.
Angela: We are all getting older and there are some times when I’d just like to go ’you know, I don’t want to work anymore but I still want the income coming in.’ I want it to be what I wanted when I first started, flexibility. So I can decide if I want to run a workshop and if I don’t want to run a workshop I don’t. Information can still get out there but totally doesn’t rely on me to do it. At the moment I love my speaking, I’m so totally in flow when I’m speaking and I don’t want to give that up. But there are other parts I’m happy to give up.
Ingrid: So you think about from the beginning and you’ve had a couple of businesses along the way, is there something you wish you’d done differently from the start?
Angela: Yes there is probably a few things I should have done differently but then they’ve all been a learning experience.
Angela: And it’s like all those stumbles that you have, it’s like getting through it, allows you to know that you can get through it. So if I did the business I’m running now, it’s relatively a new start-up because I closed a clinic 2 years ago, and started again with a new focus, so I’ve kind of done it all. But because I have the background and the marketing and the education, it became so much easier to take all that and systemise it and dump it into a new topic and a new business model. It is about learning how you can market yourself, learning the systems is probably the big thing. If I’d known more about the systems I would have done them a lot earlier. Now I try to systemise everything and my VA says ‘my god how much more are you systemising’? I put everything on systems. I used to be in IT as well so I love systems.
Ingrid: A lot of people are quite anti systems because you know they come to their own business because they want freedom and flexibility and some people feel like systems constrain them. But systems actually give them the freedom and flexibility.
Angela: Totally, except when they go wrong.
Ingrid: And that is usually when someone doesn’t follow them.
Angela: Or the computer system breaks down or you lose connection
Ingrid: Yes, that’s different.
Angela: but you also have to deal with that because nothing goes 100 percent to plan. You’ve got to be able to – if you can’t get into a backend system – you’ve got to be able to work-around.
Ingrid: Yes there’s always a work-around.
Angela: You just need to stop take a big deep breath and say what can we do right here to work around?
Ingrid: Yes, you have to ask, what can we do instead? So along the way Angela, apart from yourself, who has been the greatest assistance to you?
Angela: Yes, well I’ve worked with a lot of coaches probably since about the 3rd year I was in business and had my first coach. That just really opened my mind, and that was when I first discovered that stuff about not trading all your one for one time, and creating programs instead. That was a coach I worked with and I had a Mastermind Group with that. I’ve had so many different people work with me, I’ve always had coaches, I worked with a marketing Mastermind Group, a business Mastermind Group. I don’t think you can do things on your own, and I also do a lot of personal development work. I always listen to pod casts – when I walk my dog every day I listen to pod casts. I read a lot – everyone. I’m also a bit of course junkie, I don’t do as many now, but I used to do lots of different courses which I started and never finished. I’ve done Maree Forleo B School, I’ve done it all.
Ingrid: That’s probably why you’ve been able to take a bit from all of them and make it in to what you have. So if someone came to you, and they do, and they want to start their own business, and today every 2nd person is thinking of having their own business, what would you say to them? What’s your advice?
Angela: Firstly I coach natural therapists so they come to me and say they want to make this into a business. First thing they need to know – it’s not easy. It’s not going to be easy – it’s not as easy as it looks on the outside. You see people out there – cause people say to me, you are doing so much. But ok, yeah, some of its gotta land. It doesn’t all land doesn’t matter how much you are doing its got to land. It’s not easy, you don’t just walk into a business – I don’t think that ever happens. It takes years to be a success – 10 years. You have to be consistent. You have to pick your market and for me, this is a really big thing, really getting clear on what you want to be known for. Not for being known for everything. Lots of natural therapists say they want to work with everyone (laughs) but when you do that you actually don’t work for anyone. What do you want to be known for and what do you want to be known as being the person for? Who are your ideal clients and what is your topic? And when you get known for that, then you stick to it, then it all just starts to work. Because this is something, when I came out of the clinic, it’s like what am I going to be known for? Then I thought stress, I’m going to be known for stress – I actually don’t work for anyone except females. If a male comes to me, I refer them on.
I only work with stress but I’m lucky because most conditions have a stress component, but I’m very specific about who I do work with. Particularly if it goes to one on one, that’s why I have so many lower level options, where people can get me without one on one and still get the information. You need to know what you want to be known for, and you need to know who you are going to be serving. When you know that, the rest will happen. You will know your marketing, and what social media you should use, you will know it all, well you won’t know it all, but you will get real direction when you know what you represent or stand for.
Ingrid: Yes, what you stand for. I think people are very nervous to niche themselves.
Angela: I know. Totally. I’ve been there too. But when I had my big clinic, because I niched to new mums, people said I looked at your website but I thought you were only for new mums. And I said, ‘no I’m marketing to new mums’. At that stage I had men as clients, because mum’s sent their husbands in, I had people who were not mums. I didn’t mean I didn’t see others, I just marketed to mums because I didn’t have a big marketing budget so I couldn’t market to the world.
Ingrid: Yes. So if you think about the characteristics – you’ve talked about yourself and the things you’ve had to do – what are the 3 key characteristics that you have, and people need to have, in starting a business?
Angela: Patience. I think also courage. And belief in yourself. Particularly natural health practitioners lack the confidence in themselves. I see it so often. Many small businesses, they just lack the confidence so don’t grab opportunities and stand up and say this is what I do. So then their business doesn’t grow, then they think it’s their fault, and it goes on and on and on. I struggle with that too – there are times I think I’m not good enough, I can’t approach these people because they are bigger then I am. Its all in your head – none of its true, you make the whole thing up. I’ve had people come up to me and people say – I loved your book – and I think ‘íts just a book’. Because I‘ve written a book people put me on a pedestal and I think I’m really just the same as you.
Ingrid: You just had the discipline to write a book.
Angela: Yes I had a program to stick to, but this second book isn’t moving along quite as fast. (laughs).
Ingrid: Interestingly, is that where you talk about confidence and referring to the book, having a group that kept you accountable there, is that where the Mastermind Groups work? Having that regular contact with a group of people who care about your success and who collectively want you to be successful, do you think that helps with peoples’ confidence?
Angela: Yes I think it does, but depending on the group you are in, I think sometimes it can also make you feel worse if you don’t feel like you are performing as well as they are. You have to be very careful – I’ve been with some Mastermind Groups that have made me feel like I am less then them. And others don’t, so you have to be very careful with Mastermind Groups. Also, regardless of that, it still comes back to self belief. It really does. If you are in a group that you believe is above you at the moment, if you believe you are striving for something, so I generally work with Mastermind Groups where I see the people as actually achieving more then I have. I always want to be stretched. These days I won’t go into groups that don’t stretch me. If it’s comfortable I generally won’t join them. I’ll only go to ones that stretch me where I have to do a lot of mindset myself to say I’m as good as they are, and if I’m not there now, I can be there in a certain amount of time. I want them to stretch me and that’s a deliberate action that I do.
Ingrid: Interestingly some people don’t want too much because that then deflates them. As you said earlier.
Ingrid: And that can actually be a de-motivator for some people.
Angela: Yes, and that depends on the person. If you are someone in start-up because you aren’t really confident, some people are totally confident all the time, and they are easy for stretching. Others aren’t, and need more gentle assistance and that is where having coaches, more personally and more one-on-one, is a better option rather then going into a Mastermind Group. You can get lost in Mastermind Groups, particularly in a larger one. You can get lost and not do anything, because no-one is really watching you.
Ingrid: Yes, cause no-one’s really watching….whereas one-on-one coaching can be a much better option at this stage.
Ingrid: Thanks so much for your time. I feel like we are all best friends. (laughs) Is there anything else you would like to add? Because the whole purpose of this pod cast is for people wanting to start a business. They are at that stage where they have an idea they are considering, so we are talking to people who have done it successfully but also hit a few pot-holes along the way. Is there anything else you would like to add for someone listening thinking of starting a business or in the early stages.
Angela: Just do it. If you really want to do it, just do it, because there is no such thing as failure. Just do it, and if it doesn’t work, give yourself a time to say well this is how much time I’m gonna give to this, and how much money I’m gonna give, if it doesn’t work you can always change your mind. Or you go back and review, maybe its not the right idea, or the right business model, just do it, and find someone who can help you do it. Find a mentor paid or unpaid, coaching is sometimes expensive when you are starting out, but there is quite often many people at networking groups, there are people who have been there before. Quite often they do it out of the goodness of their heart. I love networking groups, particularly women’s networking because you just go there, even if you don’t have a business you still meet other women. The male ones are probably the same but I don’t spend as much time with them. You find people already in business and if they are happy to answer your questions, don’t overload them with questions, but take what they are offering. Because generally women are often very open to helping other women I think.
Ingrid: Yes, I think you are right Angela. What a lovely way to finish. Thanks so much for your time.
Angela: Its been great, thanks, bye.