Tonya Hohn is a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor. In this episode of So You Want to Start a Business Tonya tells us how she started her own business and has created an ideal lifestyle for herself and her family.
You can find out more about Tonya here:
and join her FaceBook page here
You can listen to Tonya’s StartUp story
over on iTunes or
listen on Stitcher
You can read the transcript of Tonya’s interview right 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, and here we are with Tonya, welcome Tonya. I’ll let you introduce yourself and your business. What is your business?
Tanya: I operate as a sole operator, so Tanya Hohn Therapy and Physiotherapy Pilates.
Ingrid: Lovely. And we are actually in Tanya’s home clinic. So if we hear any of the sounds of the suburbs, Tanya lives in a lovely inner west suburb in a gorgeous little house, and her clinic is attached to that, attached to the family home. You have really quite an ideal life, don’t you Tonya with your business you have built?
Tanya: Yeah I do. Lifestyle balance but still challenges which are nice to have.
Ingrid: We’ll explore those. So when did you start your business?
Tanya: I started probably between 2010 and 2012.
Ingrid: And why did you start your business?
Tanya: Just looking for a bit of flexibility and independence, life balance, a bit of diversity, and just a chance for a different challenge outside my field of physiotherapy, just starting new skills and exploring new openings I guess.
Ingrid: And what did you want, you sort of alluded to it there in that answer, but what did you want from the business from the beginning?
Tanya: Life flexibility. So I have a passion for my field but when you’re working in a big business or a big clinic the hours are quite gruelling, so I was looking for something that gave a bit of longevity in my career, it’s quite easy to burn out in physiotherapy, so finding that balance and just working around my lifestyle while still having a passion for my career and field.
Ingrid: Lovely. And so you started somewhere between 2010, around then. When did it start to feel like you were in business?
Tanya: When I didn’t have to seek employment outside of my business, to earn what I needed to, to make life comfortable, and I guess when the phone and emails started running hot as well.
Ingrid: And you were fully booked.
Tanya: Yup, fully booked and working the hours, and sometimes, not having enough hours to provide what people were after.
Ingrid: What people were after. Just to go back, so you provide physiotherapy and Pilates. How do you combine those two? Just explain that please.
Tanya: I guess that the latest research in physiotherapy, a lot of the research is around movement and getting active and how to do that, and that’s progressed quite a lot in the last 10 years, and changing rapidly at present. So I guess it’s really hard these days not to combine movement with the physiotherapy, it’s become quite an active profession, and treatments have been becoming more active.
Ingrid: Lovely. How did you know, obviously you had customers, patients when you were in your physiotherapy working for other people, so people need that, but how did you know that customers wanted what you were offering? Because you’ve carved out a nice little niche, how did you know that?
Tanya: I guess the start of it was when I went on maternity leave and I’d been working at a clinic in the Inner West, and people started contacting me, tracking me down through Facebook, I did have a small business page, and just through networking word of mouth that I was going to work from home and receiving calls, I knew that my business was something that people were after, and how I presented the profession was something that suited people in the area.
Ingrid: Now, you have turned a part of your home into a home clinic, so you obviously needed some funding. How, be as detailed as you like, how did you fund the business in the early days?
Tanya: Well I guess I’ve always been quite conservative with finance, I’ve always had something extra to do things that I wanted to do, and I guess working from home gives you a little bit more flexibility in not having that stress of high rents and overheads, and allows you to focus more on customer care and providing an affordable service as well.
Ingrid: Now you’ve resisted the temptation to go into your own clinic. Talk a little bit about that and your rationalization for not doing that.
Tanya: I do get tempted to go a little bit bigger but I’ve looked at a lot of friends who are physiotherapists who have gone into business, and seeing that you do need to have probably three or four staff to make it worthwhile, with big hours, and I just keep focusing on the bigger picture and what I want professionally and personally, so I keep sort of weighing up. And I do keep weighing up and reassessing that as I go along, because that might change at some point and it may not as well.
Ingrid: So you keep that option open.
Tanya: Yeah, it’s an option.
Ingrid: So, how do you find new customers? You said people tracked you down, but do you look for new customers sometimes?
Tanya: Yes and no. I don’t really need to do a whole lot of advertising, my main sort of advertising I think is in the networking, people talking, Facebook, and newsletters I find a great way of connecting, people passing on information. And even when I’ve worked at other clinics when they have tried to advertise in formal ways by newspaper, it tends to be more a word of mouth profession.
Ingrid: And you do provide a lot of information to your clientele through your Facebook and through your newsletter, don’t you? You’re well educated on your topic and you share that information.
Tanya: Yeah, I mean I guess part of being a professional is being passionate and keeping up to date, and sharing those little updates. And that inspires people to also come and see a physio, in terms of your educating them and see what we have to offer, which is continually changing.
Ingrid: As the science changes and the research. In terms of pricing, so I know you offer Pilates, individual treatments, and you do classes and then you have your treatment that you do, one on one, how did you come up with pricing?
Tanya: I guess I called around and sought pricing locally at other clinics, and I guess also thinking about what’s value for money for the quality service that I do offer, but also keeping in mind demographic and what’s affordable for people to be able to access you and get the treatment that they need as well.
Ingrid: So it’s a combination of all of that.
Ingrid: Do you have an exit strategy?
Tanya: I guess the way I work, I can exit at any point and that’s part of the benefits of working from home, I guess it’s just day to day, if I need to exit I can, there’s no big downfalls in exiting, and I guess that’s basically, it’s flexible day to day.
Ingrid: So you could actually if you wanted to earn more money for something, you could just work more?
Tanya: Yeah, I can work more or I can work less, and I guess the thing is that flexibility offers me ups and downs of pulling back when I need to and working harder when I want to feel like I’ve got that energy to push a bit further.
Ingrid: And Tanya I know you take holidays, without any difficulty
Tanya: Yeah, so I don’t have to worry about paying rent if I need to take time off or with parents aging I’ve got that flexibility with the family if I need to that I can pull back if I need to.
Ingrid: Ideal. So let’s have some retrospective thinking now. If you had to look back what is something you were really shooting on from the beginning in terms of setting up your business, what do you wish you’d known?
Tanya: I think for me given that all the detailed research is a given just given my personality, I think the main thing I wish I’d known is just having confidence in what I had to offer was of interest to people, not everyone wants to go to a clinic and pay big prices and be rushed in and out the door. So more a confidence about the product that I was selling.
Ingrid: Lovely. And is that part of the same as what you wish you’d known from the start, because that’s slightly a different question isn’t it, in terms of the business, is there anything about the business that you wish you’d known?
Tanya: I think I pretty well researched it fairly well, so I’m quite happy with where I started from, and I’m a person that doesn’t jump in without, having a broad knowledge of what I’m doing, so I’m pretty happy with how that all went.
Ingrid: So how did you get that knowledge? Where did you do your research?
Tanya: I think I was thinking about doing working from home and running a business for a long time so I was watching other businesses, people that I’d worked for, I’ve got friends who are in business, people who are in corporate, just talking to local people and seeing what they do for work, how people who work for themselves function, so gathering information from all those sources.
Ingrid: And then making that decision from there. Who apart from yourself, and it’s up to you whether you mention names or not, but who has been of greatest assistance to you along the way?
Tanya: I think clients, that positive feedback, but also local business people, talking a lot to the local network, and also one of my friends who is in a high corporate job, just talking to her, the biggest strategies of business, you can also apply to smaller businesses in terms of customer care and how you present yourself and having confidence.
Ingrid: And customer is important to you, that customer care, customer experience is very important.
Tanya: Absolutely. I get it’s the same thing, your hair is only as good as your last haircut, you’re only as good as your last treatment or interaction with someone, and being aware of that interaction with every customer is important. It’s your business name.
Ingrid: And it’s your personal brand.
Ingrid: Who can give you really good, really useful feedback?
Tanya: I think clients, customers, in the first place, I think an accountant too, just finding out what you need to do, what important money you need to put away for tax purposes so you’re not overspending if you’re buying things for the business. I think that’s the main, and other business people.
Ingrid: So if someone came to you, and maybe they do from time to time, your clients see you as living the dream, so to speak, and they say, “Wow I’d love to have my own business” what would you say Tanya, to someone wanting to start their own business?
Tanya: I’d say “Go for it, if you’ve got the motivation and the attention to detail” Just to give it a go, I think a lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to have your own business, they think it’s really complicated, and it’s not as complicated as it seems I think, if you do your research gradually. I had that question the other day from an occupational therapist, and she was quite frightened to think about freelancing, and I said, you just do it exactly the same way as I do, you start off with an ABN and you just take it one step at a time.
Ingrid: One step at a time, lovely. Now, three characteristics of you. Tanya, what is it about you that makes you successful in business?
Tanya: I think perseverance, and motivation and passion for your field, you have to enjoy what you’re doing, and the last one, I think is being adaptable, continually reassessing, and not just staying just status quo.
Ingrid: When you say perseverance, what are you talking about there, what sort of things do you have to persevere?
Tanya: I think you’re constantly looking outside your field in terms of what could you do better and just constantly reassessing, perseverance in trying to improve, and perseverance too in that there are times up and down times, or persevering when you’re having to do a lot more paperwork, and pushing and spending a lot more behind the scenes time than I think people realize, there is a lot of outside time, extra time, that flexibility, you do sometimes have to work a little bit harder in other areas.
Ingrid: So when you say time doing other things, it’s the things that aren’t really physiotherapy.
Ingrid: Business things.
Tanya: Business things, yeah. Accounting, working out how you’re going to progress the business, those kinds of things.
Ingrid: Lovely. So then if you were to think about the characteristics that a new business starter would need, you mentioned the characteristics of yours, the perseverance, the motivation and the passion, what do you think someone needs? Would it be the same or are there other things that people need to start a business?
Tanya: I think you do need to be organized, so I think for me one of my characteristics at work and that would work for other people is someone that likes to organize and plan, I think that’s the main one.
Ingrid: Tanya, thank you so much, is there anything else that I haven’t asked you about your business that you’d like to share with everyone else?
Tanya: Well I think that’s the main things, we’ve covered quite a lot of detailed ground there, so thank you.
Ingrid: And you’d do it again?
Tanya: Absolutely. Absolutely, there’s times when it gets a little bit hard when you think, I might go work for someone else, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives for sure.
Tanya: Thank you.