Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dr. Julie Chan, ND, Owner of Liberty Wellness Clinic, located in Markham, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Liberty Wellness Clinic is a Naturopathic and Acupuncture clinic, and we provide pediatric, women's, men's, and senior healthcare. We offer services including traditional Chinese acupuncture, holistic nutrition, plant-based nutrition, NES Health bioenergetic therapy, herbal medicine, homeopathy, biomedical therapy for neurobehavioural disorders including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD), bioidentical hormone therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
Tell us about yourself
I have been in practice for over 15 years, and I graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. I have a deep passion for helping people to attain their optimal wellness and to feel better physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. Having suffered from health issues my whole life, I know how it feels to be a patient who is desperate for help. I want to ensure patients feel understood, supported, and hopeful during their path to wellness. I think what motivates me every day to go to work is I genuinely look forward to hearing my patients' stories about their life.
We can often figure out so much about how someone's health issues manifested based on their lifestyle and diet. Yet, these are areas where most patients get minor advice when they need it the most. It's fascinating working with patients because we are deep diving into a person's life and trying to discover and figure out what's going on. I often run more lab work beyond what is done during a regular annual exam to gain a better perspective on a person's physical well-being.
I also do very in-depth intakes to understand what is going on with their life, including their daily and long-term stressors. These often impact a person's health negatively. The most important part of my practice is educating patients to start taking charge of their health and become responsible guardians of their well-being.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think one of my most significant accomplishments as a business owner is finding a niche that I love and, at the same time, being able to help others. It is so true when people say. If you do what you love, you'll never work a day. I have maintained a very low-stress business because I have chosen to do things I love and am good at while simplifying other aspects of the company that I find more challenging.
To maintain an excellent work-life balance, we cannot overload our plate and ensure there's always some leeway in the schedule to deal with unexpected events. Maintaining peace, balance, and harmony is simple but challenging to achieve. Still, I've always strived for it, and it's been going pretty well most of the time.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the biggest challenges as a practitioner is learning to manage a business we do not know about in school. Management and operations are very much needed in a small business. Still, different from large companies that can hire people for these positions, most small business owners like myself find themselves wearing many different hats. Not only are we the practitioner, but we are also the accountant, the manager, the administrator, marketers, and advertisers.
It requires us to acquire a lot of new skills, and it's a steep learning curve, but if you're willing to put in the work, there's no reason you cannot learn these skills, but it takes a lot of time and isn't paid for. Owning a business comes with many responsibilities and unbillable hours, but once things are running smoothly, it gets easier, and it's also very gratifying as you have full control of your whole business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Start small, and if this is your first business, take a business management course and even social media course to understand what is needed to run a successful business. It would be good to gain some experience in the field, even if it means working part-time in another company that does something similar to what you want to build so you can see how everything is run.
You can gain a lot of knowledge this way because you can see what aspects of the business you would like to incorporate and what you want to avoid.
I'm also averse to taking large risks, so ensure you're only taking on what you can chew. I know many new business owners who take on large debts to get their business started, but this is risky as you don't know what could happen, so it's best to keep your risk low and start small at first and expand when you have more capital.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Owning a business is very gratifying, and you can make it into anything you want. As long as you can get across to the public and your target market how your services can help them, clients will find you. If you love what you do and you do it well, the word will spread, and your business will start to flourish. Stay hopeful and know there are ups and downs. Expect it and know that life is never a smooth ride, but that's what makes it interesting.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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