Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Yagil Epstein, founder of Physio 360, located in Montreal, QC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm honored to run an orthopedic physiotherapy practice from my home office. I treat any musculoskeletal injury from back pain to headaches to hip replacements. My patients vary from ages five and up and have multiple levels of activity. I start by interviewing the patient to determine the main issue. From there, I begin evaluating to determine the proper and most efficient way to treat the root problem. We use a mix of education, home exercises, manual therapy, and modalities to help treat and prevent injury. My focus is always tailored to the person in front of me, which provides a more efficient process that always changes based on the main issues at hand. Finally, being direct and honest with my patients is critical to building trust and allowing the patient to set appropriate expectations.
Tell us about yourself
My journey to becoming a physiotherapist started when I injured myself in tennis. I developed tendonitis in my rotator cuff from overuse and ineffective technique when I was a teenager. A friend at my local gym referred me to an athletic therapist Peter Levidus. I remember doing all these cool tests like standing on two scales to check my weight balance and resisting my arm in certain directions to determine the tendon at fault. Peter and his tremendous knowledge base immediately inspired me to become a therapist.
After completing high school and first choice health science at Dawson College, I applied for Athletic therapy at Concordia University and Physiotherapy at McGill University. I remember hearing from some trainers at the gym I worked out that physiotherapy had more opportunities for work and was a safer choice to always have adequate work. I got into Concordia early on but, unfortunately, was put on the waiting list at McGill for Physiotherapy. After eagerly awaiting months and regularly calling to find out if they had made some decisions on who would be allowed to enter from the list, I finally got accepted a few weeks before the semester started.
In 2007 I graduated from McGill with an undergraduate degree in physiotherapy, and in 2012 I completed a Masters of Clinical Science at Western University and became a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (CAMPT). Today I run my private practice, teach part-time at McGill and continue to learn in regular courses. Running my own practice was always a goal for me since I graduated. I began my career working at multiple clinics 5-6 days a week with patients every 30 minutes. The public sector was never a comfort zone for me with waiting lists and limited staffing, but the private sector I found wasn't super personalized either.
The quick turnover of patients and occasional pressures to get new patients to come back for more sessions in a private clinic made me feel like I wasn't really providing a great or honest service to my patients. As I developed more and more years under my belt, I began seeing patients privately on my own for hour sessions and competitive rates part-time. When I completed my master's, I knew I was ready to take the plunge and start to work full time on my own.
I now have the capacity to provide customer service I feel is required and, in effect, believe it is more effective for their recovery. Seeing my patients succeed and recover is always the ultimate motivator, but when someone recovers from an active approach, it means even more. Empowering my patients to not only recover but to prevent the injury from returning makes me feel like I did my job!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am slightly a perfectionist and a high achiever, so I would say my biggest accomplishment is still yet to come. Until now, I believe turning a small casual practice of 2-3 patients a week into a consistent 20 or more patients a week clinic is definitely a big accomplishment for me. What I love even more is that I've never advertised, given cuts, or promoted myself actively. I have grown simply with a website, word of mouth, and catering to my patient's needs. Being able to grow naturally is super important to me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being an owner of a business is not easy, but luckily I feel like it comes naturally to me. Being on time, professional, respectful, and the ability to perform all different tasks of a business is required at all times. One mistake sometimes can ruin your reputation in an instant. I guess the hardest thing with running your own business is staying calm under pressure. Inevitably there will be moments when you are at your wit's end, we are all human, but you cannot let up. Sometimes it could be a patient who is pushing your boundaries, and you want to stop treating them, or a week where you have so much work you just want to cancel everyone and sleep. As an owner, you must resist those temptations and stay cool-headed, whereas if you're an employee, you can call in sick or be less worried about the consequences of some actions.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Nothing happens in an instant, be patient. It takes time to grow a business, and it also takes time for you to grow your confidence as a business owner. Trying to do it all right away is simply not possible. Remaining patient and humble is critical to getting things off on the right foot and learning what works and what doesn't.
- Learn from the mistakes of others and be open to constructive criticism. When I started out on my own, I had already learned so much from my previous clinic bosses. Day to day, you can see if seeing patients every 30 minutes works or not. What equipment you may need for the clinic to run smoothly, and how to communicate with patients professionally when they are angry or don't want to pay cancellation fees. Seeing what doesn't work and what will help guide you in the process forward. Sometimes patients will also offer advice. Don't get defensive about it; they usually mean well and just want you to succeed. Keeping an open mind and staying curious will definitely guide you in becoming a better boss and successful business.
- Stay true to yourself, your brand, and your boundaries/comfort zone. It's easy to get carried away sometimes with opportunities and offers that sound amazing and are financially beneficial but are not congruent with who you are or what you want your business to become. I have been asked many times to give cuts to people for referrals or provide receipts in someone else's name. Of course, it would be nice to make more money; however, the risk and the ethical concerns are not worth the reward. It may take you longer to grow or provide you with less income in the short term, but in the long term, that decision will be the best and right one. Never compromise your integrity or your vision that has taken you years to develop.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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