Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Brendan DeForge, founder of Return to Performance, located in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I'm a physiotherapist who helps athletes return to the sports and activities they love, feeling stronger and more confident than ever. My mission is to truly elevate the standard of rehabilitation for athletes, so they get back to what they love performing even better than they did before they got hurt. There isn't anything quite like the feeling of watching someone I've worked with get back to something they're passionate about.

My approach to client care is a holistic one. I'm lucky enough to have access to an amazing training facility to work with my clients in. This gives me the freedom to take a client all the way from an acute, devastating injury back to what they love. My skill set and experience allow me to do everything from manual techniques to dry needling to teaching barbell movements to re-training sport-specific tasks on the turf, court, or field. My goal is to make sure my clients are supported in every step of the rehab journey, both physically and mentally.

Client experience is paramount; therefore, all of my sessions are one-on-one and typically last 45-60 minutes. This allows me to pack as much value as I can into my treatments to generate the best outcomes possible for the clients I work with. I utilize technology, such as app-based training programs to make sure that my clients are supported outside of their time working with me as well.

I'm particularly passionate and specialized in working with individuals with Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries. Oftentimes, it's an injury that requires significant surgery and a lengthy rehab process. It can be a devastating injury for many athletes. I truly feel called to help these individuals through what can be a difficult time for them so that they can get back to what they love with strength and confidence.

My customers primarily are a range of incredibly active people. My clientele ranges from high-performance court and field sport athletes to powerlifters and weightlifters, to runners, to people that just want to stay in shape so that they can play with their kids.

Tell us about yourself

Growing up, I was completely entrenched in the world of sport and competition. I knew my career had to reflect that love of sport so I could live that for the rest of my life. Physiotherapy became a natural progression to continue to be involved in something I was so passionate about. It allowed me to both rehabilitate athletes from injury and work to improve their performance in their sport.

Starting my own Physiotherapy business was something that I felt drawn to even before I started my career. When I graduated and began working as a PT, I saw massive gaps in the field. In the more "traditional" model, clinicians are managing 2-3 clients at a time in the clinic, spend minimal time communicating with them, and rarely implement any sort of research-based interventions in their practice. This becomes even more devastating in the case of an ACL injury, where the re-injury rates are upwards of 33%. How can we expect to get good outcomes for our clients as physios in that model? It just isn't feasible, and I knew it wasn't for me.

I wanted to be able to spend more time with the people I was working with, provide higher value interventions, and get fantastic outcomes. I wanted to be able to help people physically and mentally and give them self-management tools. Ultimately I wanted to get more people back to what they love feeling even better than they did before they met me and create an environment where I can help other clinicians do the same. It was that combination of factors that led to me starting my own business. Brick by brick, I'm on a mission to change physiotherapy and rehab for the better.

What motivates me is seeing my clients WIN. At the end of the day, the most important thing to me is seeing the people I work with accomplish what they set out to accomplish. Those first few steps without pain, that first game back, that first run, adding an extra 10 pounds to the barbell in the gym. Those wins continue to motivate me to do what I do.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Honestly, my biggest accomplishment as a business owner was to start. Going into business can be terrifying. It's a leap into uncertainty. To have the confidence to take that leap is already an accomplishment.

To start a business oftentimes is to pour your heart into something you're so deeply passionate about. It's the willingness to be vulnerable, to show absolute confidence in yourself, and to let your authenticity rise to the forefront. It's a willingness to be different, go against the status quo, and build something extraordinarily unique to solve a specific problem.

Overcoming that fear, that imposter syndrome that you feel, that's half the battle. Your willingness to bet on yourself and start is already a win.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest thing for me personally is to keep a level head despite the ups and downs of business ownership. The good days feel awesome when you're running something that you created. The bad days feel a bit more personal than when you were an employee. I celebrate the wins when I can and use that to motivate me to keep going on the days that don't go as well.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Find something you are deeply passionate about. Something that lights a fire. That fire will carry you forward through the ups and downs of business ownership. Make your business driven by a clear mission, and you'll survive the difficult times and absolutely thrive when you're winning.
  2. Seek mentorship. I'm lucky enough to be guided by a group of amazing business coaches who have challenged me in so many ways. They've pushed me out of my comfort zone countless times, but that's allowed me to continue to grow. They celebrate my wins, sometimes even more than I celebrate them. Further, they're incredibly supportive, always being there to answer questions and run ideas by. Having someone guiding you, that's been in your shoes is invaluable. The learning curve of business becomes more manageable, and it'll keep your confidence high throughout the process.
  3. Don't tie your identity to the identity of the business. Over time your business starts to feel like an extension of you, and it's hard not to tie your own self-worth to the success of the business. Separate the two when you can. Your confidence in yourself is high when things are going well, but you're down on yourself when things aren't. Those highs and lows are often out of your control, and feeding into them can make that emotional roller coaster even more difficult to deal with. Work stays at work, or it stays in the office. Set clear boundaries around work and work hours, even when you're working from home. Organize your schedule and block time for activities outside of work. Plan those first in your schedule instead of trying to squeeze them in at the end. You'll be more successful because of it.

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; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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