Katherine Maslen is a naturopath, nutritionist, author and ambassador for amazing health. After completing 2 bachelor degrees in health science, she has been helping people be achieve good health for over 9 years.
Seven years ago she founded Brisbane Natural Health – a wellness center where she works with her team to help overcome her clients health issues.
After seeing clients for 5 days a week Katherine decided it was time to send her message a little further, so she decided to write Get Well, Stay Well. She also been sought after by the media, and has been featured on the Today show on Channel 9, ABC radio and in Wellbeing, Good Health and Marie Claire magazines.
Katherine still has one foot firmly in her clinical practice, and she is also on a mission to change the way people think about health and well being.
Katherine’s offer to listeners:
Katherine has offered listeners her free 10-day health challenge. The website is www.10dayhealthchallenge.com.au and that will give listeners access to a free 10-day health coaching program.
Also check out Katherine at http://katherinemaslen.com/
To listen to my conversation with Katherine Maslen:
You can listen right here on the Healthy Numbers website.
You can listen to the full interview on iTunes click here.
You can listen to the full interview on Stitcher click here.
The full transcript of my interview with Katherine Maslen is below.
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Happy reading! Now here is the transcript of the podcast.
Ingrid: Hello, and here we are today with Katherine Maslen. Hello, Katherine.
Katherine: Hello, Ingrid.
Ingrid: Nice to have you here. Thank you. Katherine, tell us what business are you in? What is your business?
Katherine: I am in the business of helping people to ‘live a life they love’. The way that I do that is I’m actually a naturopath by trade, personally, but I’ve got a team of 11 people here in Milton, Brisbane. We collectively work towards patients’ health, helping to improve their wellness, using natural therapies primarily.
Ingrid: That’s fantastic. Helping people improve their health, that’s fantastic. When did you start this business?
Katherine: About seven years ago now, I started Brisbane Natural Health.
Ingrid: Why did you start your own business? Obviously, you could have worked for someone else. Why was it important for you to start your own business?
Katherine: I did work for someone else for a while. I worked in a couple of different clinics before I started Brisbane Natural Health. I guess for me, what I found was that there was also something missing. I have a really big background in emotional wellness stuff and I felt like that was a really big gap for people. Also that even though there were multiple practitioners renting rooms or in the same place, that it wasn’t really as collaborative as it could be. I guess, I always wanted to start my own business, so the seed for that was planted probably a few years before I started the clinic. I just wanted to create this space, where some of these needs were met, which happened. We’re actually doing it really successfully now.
Ingrid: That’s fantastic. You wanted to have more of a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. Was there anything else you wanted from the business from day one?
Katherine: I guess, I just wanted … I’ve worked personally with 3,000 people over the years and I just knew that there was some people that got amazing results and just stayed that way, and there were others that would be, what we call, repeat patients. We’d fix them and then they’d be back six months, twelve months down the track.
What I really wanted to create was a framework, where people took a little bit more self-responsibility and were able to actually go, “No, this is my health. I’m not just coming in to get fixed. I’m going to actually really take a hold of this and learn what I need to do to be well for life.”
Ingrid: Katherine, that’s a lot of people – 3,000 people is a tremendous number of people. That you could have impacted that many lives is really something to be very proud of, isn’t it? That idea of self-responsibility, completely shifts where the responsibility for personal health comes from, doesn’t it?
Katherine: Yup, absolutely, yeah.
Ingrid: When did the business feel real? When did you actually feel like you were in business? Was there a moment where you went, “Okay, now I’m in business.”
Katherine: Yeah. Immediately. It felt very real. Shit just got real. I’ve always felt like I’ve been in the business. I guess, because I’m a naturopath, when I started the business, I brought a lot of clients with me, so I already had a bit of a following and my own website and some stuff happening like that. As soon as I started the business, it was really just hitting the ground running and expanding on that, rather than starting something completely new.
Ingrid: Yes. With your customer base and the fact that you were offering something that was a little bit different to the experience you’d had in other clinics, how did you know customers wanted that? How did you know this would be a viable option?
Katherine: It didn’t start off this way. It’s been a progression of development. When I started the clinic, we just did it the traditional way. We just did session to session and we might have hosted a few workshops and did a few webinars, etcetera. Then, what happened was we created a package-type system, where people could prepay for a package of sessions, which guided them over the first three or four months. Then from there, the memberships developed.
It’s something that, I guess from our point of view, it’s looking at health and wellness with naturopathy, having two or three sessions really isn’t going to get you where you need to go. It didn’t really make sense to me that people were coming in and doing these few sessions and there’d be some patients that would continue and some that weren’t. I guess, for us, it was that choice of, “Who do we actually want to work with and who are the people that we want to help?” For us, we wanted to help those people that were interested in digging a little bit deeper and really getting into the crux of things.
Even with the membership, it’s been about two years now that we’ve been exclusively membership only, and we’ve probably had about eight or nine renditions of our core membership. Really, when you create something new, you’re having this assumption of what people want, so you’re like, “All right, well, I know that these are the pieces and this works well for most people,” but it’s not until you’re actually initiating it and doing it that you’re like, “Oh, people are behaving a little bit different than they normally do actually. Oh, and I think we need a little bit of this, and I think this needs to be a bit more flexible.” It’s taken us a while to really perfect it, but we’re at a point now where our product is actually really good.
Ingrid: Isn’t that fantastic? It does take a few iterations, doesn’t it? I mean, yeah, most businesses do that, don’t they? How do you find new customers? Where do your new customers come from?
Katherine: We have a really strong referral base. Obviously, with what we do, we get some pretty remarkable results and people like to talk about it, but also online. Probably the core of our new client inquiries are coming from online. I’ve always worked really hard to have a strong presence with Google, and that’s with my own personal website, and also the clinic website. That’s been a lot of just blogging, using social media, etcetera. We actually put a lot of time and investment into online marketing, definitely.
Ingrid: Yeah, so that you’re targeting people and they know how to find you and what you’re actually offering. Yeah.
Ingrid: I guess, I’m picturing a naturopathy clinic and a health clinic, I mean it’s a physical location. You can tell us as much detail as you’d like around money, in this instance, but how did you fund the business to get started? What was your strategy around funding at the beginning?
Katherine: I actually used our life savings, mine and my partner’s. Rather than buying a house, we decided to invest in the business. Luckily, business was good and we were able to recoup that in the first 12 to 24 months, and do the house thing. That’s what we did, we decided to go all in and go, “Well, let’s actually do this as an investment.”
Ingrid: That’s a huge commitment, Katherine, yeah. Now, you’ve mentioned packages and you’ve alluded to membership. Tell us about your process for the pricing strategy, because you do have a completely different approach to this, to the normal, if you like. Please, could you tell us about … I mean, you don’t have to tell us the exact amounts, or if you want to, but how does it work?
Katherine: It actually took a long time to get the pricing right, and in the first renditions of the memberships, we did lose money. It’s just because well, we did some unlimited memberships, which was sort of not the best strategy. To begin with, we used memberships, which included product, which again, wasn’t a great strategy.
What we’ve worked is we’ve kind of just tried to reverse engineer it and go, “Well, what do we need to make per appointment to be profitable? How many appointments are they going to need as part of that package? Then, what do we need to charge per week?” We’ve got probably eight or nine different memberships with different inclusions, but it just allows people to go, “Well, where are they actually gonna slot in for that?” It hasn’t been easy, it’s been actually quite challenging to get it right. To be honest, I still don’t think we have it completely right, probably in January we’ll do another pricing review, but it’s getting there.
Ingrid: As you say, it just continues to be, depending on what people want and it makes it appealing to a wider range of people. Katherine, it’s early days, I suppose seven years, do you have an exit strategy? Or have you thought about the exit of the business?
Katherine: I have thought about the exit of the business, but not in too much detail, to be honest. We’ve just gone through quite a big growth period and quite a big cash intensity growth period, so really all tasks and energy have been in that and kind of getting through this. That’s just because we have 11 staff, but we have a full-time equivalent and it’s just not a great number when it comes to admin versus billables etcetera. We’ve been actively trying to work through that. We’re almost through that. Then, once we’re through that, then we can look at, “All right, what are the next targets and what do we need to do with that?”
I know that, eventually, I will want to exit the business, and that’s only because I’ve got so many other projects that I personally would love to do, but on the same token, we’re doing something new and exciting. We’ve just launched virtual membership, so that’s another arm of the business. I want to be in there and experiencing it and doing it. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this if I didn’t have a physical clinic to test it in.
Ingrid: Yes, that’s right. It’s just interesting to see how people think about what they’re going to do in the future. Let’s have a little bit of reflection. Is there something you wish you’d done differently at the beginning?
Katherine: See, we all just kind of jump in and learn as we go, don’t we? I wish I knew more, just around actually running a business. I actually feel like, for the first time ever, I’m learning how to properly run a real business. That’s, I guess, a lot of the stuff I’m doing with my coach currently is around financials and planning and growth strategies, rather than just kind of going, “Oh my god, we don’t have clients! Let’s throw in a bit of marketing and see what happens.” Like that more reactive type stuff.
The other thing is just what really maybe was a turning point for my business is when I really focused on what my ‘why’ was. Why was I trying to do what we were doing? What were our values? What was that side of stuff? Because once I knew that, I started to attract people that aligned with that better. Whereas, probably my biggest stress in the last seven years have been just major staffing issues, or people leaving, or stuff like that going on. We don’t get any of that anymore. We’ve got a really coherent team. We have retreats every quarter. Everyone’s on the same page. I think that’s one of the things that I wish that I knew more about at the beginning.
Ingrid: At the beginning. Isn’t that interesting? That by just having that ‘why’ … and there are a lot of people that might just skip over that, yeah, but it makes such a difference, doesn’t it?
Katherine: It is.
Ingrid: You’ve mentioned a business coach, and your partner was all in allowing the two of you to decide to put all the funds in, but who else has been of greatest assistance to you, as you started the business and as you’ve grown it over the seven years? You can either name names, or people, yeah.
Katherine: To be honest, the community of Dents, Dent Global, and the programme that I did for Key Person of Influence has really been the biggest thing for me and the biggest support. In that community, I’ve got a heap of really close friends that also run businesses that I can go to for advice and brainstorming. I have an amazing accountability group of individual business owners, that we go away once every quarter and work on our businesses. That’s really been the biggest thing for me, is being immersed in that community with other people who are trying to do epic things, as well.
Ingrid: Yeah, that makes a huge difference who you surround yourself with, doesn’t it?
Ingrid: Katherine, you’ve mentioned your accountability group and the Dent community. Is there anyone who can give you really good, useful feedback? Where do you personally get feedback from, for your business, for yourself?
Katherine: Yeah, it’s from my mastermind group, definitely. Definitely those guys. The whole point of the group is for us to give each other honest, open feedback and to push each other to do better. That’s really where I get most inspiration, and I’m really blessed to be a part of it. They’re a really great group of business owners.
Ingrid: Oh, that’s terrific. The people listening to this podcast, mostly aspiring business people wanting to start a business, or in that very early stage, so what would you say to someone who comes to you and says, “I want to start my own business.” What would you say to them?
Katherine: Get ready for the ride. Yep. I think that it’s really just about being clear of what your intentions are and what you’re trying to achieve. If you want to start a business just because you think that’s a great idea and you just want to make a bit of money out of it, you’re not going to get joy out of that, and you’re not going to be able to build your systems.
I feel like getting educated really early on, and just realising that it is a growth journey, and you will learn a lot as you go, but it’s just realising that with business, there are going to be a lot of ups and downs, and you’ve just got to be really resilient and hang on for the ride.
Ingrid: You’ve just mentioned the word resilient. Three characteristics that you think you have that has made you successful in business?
Katherine: Resilience is definitely one of them. I think creativity, definitely being able to think outside of the box. The other one is probably … probably … oh, what would the third one be? Probably positivity, and being able to just sort of roll with the punches, I guess.
Ingrid: Well, knowing you, personally, that would be one of the characteristics I’d give you. Something that you mentioned earlier there, Katherine, that you said about the mastermind group, and I think one of those key things is around being able to take that feedback from people and do something useful with it. I think sometimes we get caught up in what we think we’re doing, and that ability to be coachable, that ability to take that feedback and make a pivot, or make a slight deviation in the journey, that’s an important characteristic, too. I know that you’re very good at that, and that’s how your business is being what it is now.
Ingrid: Characteristics for budding startups. I know we’ve talked about resilience and creativity and positivity. Is there anything else that someone getting started needs that you would recommend to them?
Katherine: I think that they just need to put their heart into it. Startup’s exciting, startup shouldn’t feel gruelling, it shouldn’t feel hard. I remember when I was starting my business, I loved spending hours on end doing social media, writing out copy, and making brochures and doing all of that stuff. It was quite a creative process to me, because I was in love with my business. That’s just what I recommend to people, is there are all these things that you’re going to have to do and learn and experience, but it’s coming back to that, if you’re really clear about why you’re doing it and the impact that it’s going to make, then it’s really exciting. I think of business almost as a game, in a way.
Katherine: It’s a game, and if you win, you get money, and if you lose, there’s issues. In all games you need to learn skills, you need to be a little bit innovative, but the rewards are really plentiful, as well.
Ingrid: I think that’s a lovely analogy for it, indeed. Katherine, thank you so much. I’ll put some notes in the show notes about how people can contact you, particularly now that you have a virtual programme and membership, that could be very appealing to people listening, as well because …
Ingrid: Yeah, so we’ll put that in … Is there an easy way that people can contact you, in that way?
Katherine: Yeah, so probably the best thing for people to do, if they’re more interested in what we do, is to sign up for our free 10-day health challenge. The website is the number 10, www.10dayhealthchallenge.com.au and that’ll give them access to a free 10-day coaching, health coaching-type thing. Otherwise, if they head to brisbanenaturalhealth.com.au, there’s heaps of info and testimonials and different stuff on there, too.
Ingrid: Wow, 10-day health challenge, that’s very generous, Katherine, thank you. Anything else you’d like to add, or anything we haven’t talked about?
Katherine: No, that’s all. I think like if you’re in startup zone, it’s exciting. I guess, that’s one of the reasons why I’d like to exit my business, is so I can embark on startup again, because it is a really exciting time, I’m excited to do it a second time around knowing what I know-
Ingrid: Yes, with all that knowledge, so what you can do differently. Well, we look forward to following that and thanks Katherine so much for your time.
Katherine: My pleasure.