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Helping others is good business
AnnMaree Christian has turned her passion for helping people to deal with injury, illness and ageing into a growing regional business.
Rutherglen Physiotherapy services allow clients to continue doing what they enjoy. They include general physiotherapy, pain management and rehabilitation following injury, illness, or surgery.
AnnMaree also supports older residents who want to remain at home and people in hospitals and residential aged care. Clients are mostly local, but some are from across the border in NSW.
With 25 years’ experience in the health care industry, AnnMaree started Rutherglen Physiotherapy in 2011. She has prior business experience in hospitality and farming and wanted a flexible operation with a good work-life balance.
AnnMaree, who lives locally and combines clinic appointments with home visits to clients in small towns across the region, is known for her flexibility and goal-orientated approach. While her business had good potential, she wanted to enhance it with advice from a mentor after a friend recommended SBMS.
“My business has been steadily growing but was at a stage that I couldn’t really grow any further until I put more systems in place to free myself up from administration work,” she says. “My own administration work was also encroaching very much on family time.”
AnnMaree chose to work with SBMS mentor Sue Gold, who has a wealth of experience in business strategy, operational planning and implementation, professional and staff development, project management and continuous improvement.
SBMS is a non-government, non-profit organisation of volunteer expert mentors who give their time and experience to help small business. It is supported by Small Business Victoria, which refers clients to it.
AnnMaree had four sessions with Sue over a 12-month period and mentoring is continuing. They focussed on developing solid foundations to enable AnnMaree to grow the business, increase profitability and eventually engage administrative support staff and physiotherapists.
They also discussed:
- establishing operational and online systems to improve efficiency and time management
- investigating and implementing cloud-based systems covering online diary management, client record keeping, bookkeeping, IT and GST management
- human resource recruitment and development including employment and subcontracting awards, legislation and business legal structures
- developing a professional network
- promotional activities such as preparing a website and using Facebook
Since seeing Sue, profitability has improved and AnnMaree has a much greater understanding of options to support business operations. She has implemented new systems, especially IT, and improved her online promotion by investigating a website, Google My Business and Facebook.
AnnMaree is working to increase her client base and negotiate contracts that meet her goals and terms. “She also has greater knowledge of and confidence in managing her business, which has led to better efficiency,” Sue says. “She now has the confidence to negotiate contracts that reflect her business goals, which include growing the business and making it more profitable while remaining focused on clients’ needs.”
AnnMaree is still a sole trader but hopes to build a base of therapists to cover her leave and extra work as the business grows. She says that without Sue it would still be growing, but she would be “much more stressed and questioning whether I was making the right decisions”.
“I would also have been concentrating on areas that may not have been my greatest priority for the time,” AnnMaree says. “One of the most helpful concepts Sue has introduced me to is applying the concept of free/simple/complex to my relatively small business.
“Where I was working to create the perfect website all in one go, she has been able to direct me to simple yet adequate ways to get started. As the business grows, I will have a better idea where I might need to create more involved (and costly) options.”
Sue also gave AnnMaree “wonderful assistance” in consolidating and steering her business. “While the direction remains the same, I am much clearer with a process of how to get there,” AnnMaree says. “One of the most valuable processes for me has been the feeling of having another person on the business team who cares that your business is a success.
As a sole trader, AnnMaree says having this support to explore and prioritise ideas is valuable, as she can focus on the clinical aspect, while Sue reviews the business side.
“Some of the digital systems that I have now in place have freed up a lot of time for me and I now feel that I am at a place where I can focus on further business growth and am enjoying a much better work/life balance,” AnnMaree says.
“My business mentor has also been able to provide very useful networks and contacts too for business administration and financial assistance. SBMS has been a wonderful assistance to my business and one that I wished I had followed up years ago.”
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