Agility in sport is crucial to staying ahead of the game and winning. So too is it a vital component of a modern business.
We are lucky to live in phenominal times of massive change and opportunity. Technology is racing ahead at an incredible pace.
In the past twenty years, the way in which we use systems, market ourselves and operate in general bears almost no resemblence to back then.
The likes of Woolworths, Blockbuster and even some of our favourite pubs have disappeared from the High Street and our communities. More agility may well have saved them if they had mutated faster and provided what the changing population demanded.
Lightening speed lives!
Lives are lived faster than ever, we move less, sit more but dash around squeezing more into our days than the previous generation ever did. It’s easy to become ‘time poor’ when there are so many demands on our lives.
The problem is that as we get stressed trying to cope wiht all the demands on ourselves and our time, often the weakest link is the one to break.
This could be our close relationships, our families, friends or our business.
I’m probably guilty of putting a disproportionate amount of energy into working with Osteopaths rather than chilling out with friends! But I know this about myself and I’m good wth it. Having spent long, long weeks and months stuck in hospitals with young Toby over two decades, I’m only now able to forge ahead with my own dreams and goals.
Agility in business
In general then, it’s a good idea to reflect on how the business is working and uncover the areas which don’t work so well.
- Which parts of it drive you nuts?
- Which aspects take too much time and make you feel under pressure?
- What do you dread doing?
- How could you farm out ‘£10 tasks’ so that you don’t become exhausted with it all?
- Where are there savings to be made?
Look at every expense and make it count, reduce it or ditch it!
The costs in a business can be the difference between making a profit and working for a pittance! Perodically check through these and strip out unnecessary expenses.
Plot your patient journey
However, agility in business doesn’t just mean looking at the structure of the business and weeding out waste.
Providing the kind of superb experience your patients deserve is also critical.
Here’s a simple checklist:
- Is it easy for them to find you online?
- Do you promote consistently to ensure potential patients understand your primary role?
- Is your image, character and values obvious or is there only a dull logo representing you online?
- Is it easy to book?
- Are people reminded of their appointments?
- Do they know where you’re based and how to get there?
- Is the waiting area comfortable and uncluttered?
- Are the treatment rooms clean and fresh?
- Are all linen, covers etc new and appealing?
- Are they sure of the process as a new patient?
- Are they clear on what happens next?
- How can you further improve the patient experience?
- Do you follow them up once treatment has ended?
- Do you keep in touch generally?
- Is there an opportunity for them to give referrals/testimonials?
Monitoring what happens at the centre of your business is crucial to maintaining osteibiz agility. Keeping abreast of the constant changes in our online and offline worlds will help to ensure that you operate in peak condition.
Indeed, I’ve been working through this exact process in my own business. It’s now obvious that some changes will enhance my offerings and better serve my Clients and community.
Products, services and prices will be adjusted over the coming month and systems streamlined. There’s only one of me and it’s become apparent that my time has to be used more effectively. If my business is to continue to grow as rapidly as it has in the past year, this streamlining exercise will enable growth.
As small business owners, we can become exhausted automotons who go through the motions each day. Never reviewing our practices or coming up for air can mean that either our business collapses one day or we do ourselves!
If you’d like a quick chat about how I might help you to stay on track and prosper, why not book into my diary? Let’s unpick any issues and decide the best solutions.
One of the most fascinating people I had the pleasure to spend time with at the recent Osteopathy New Zealand Conference was Jason Haxton. In his work at the Kirksville Museum, he has studied the life of Dr A T Still and frankly I’d wager that what he doesn’t know about the Founder of Osteopathy isn’t worth knowing!
Dr Still discovers an important truth
Jason told us that back in the day, it was often the case that when a woman was giving birth, the husband would stay with her and send the eldest child to fetch the Doctor.
One evening, Dr Still saw a youngster racing towards him on his horse calling out for all his worth that the Doctor needed to come quickly. Grabbing his obstetric bag, Dr Still headed off in the direction of the speeding horse. He walked for what seemed an inordinate amount of time before finally reaching a remote farm.
Within the home, there lay a woman on the kitchen table. She was, however, clearly not about to give birth and the Doctor was perplexed. He examined her lifeless, barely breathing and clammy body. He checked her over and noticed the common symptoms of pneumonia. His hands felt guided to check around her ribs. He thought nothing more of it, diagnosed pneumonia and went to bed in their house, as by now it was very late.
However, in the morning the Doctor couldn’t find the patient! He went outside and was astounded to see her working extremely hard at the usual chores but with absolutely no remaining symptoms. In that moment he realised that, the night before, he didn’t have all the facts.
He asked her husband what she was doing yesterday before becoming ill. The husband explained that they were slaughtering a pig. The animal had been strung up high but a knot had slipped and the huge pig had swung towards her and smacked her in the side. In that moment he knew that the strain in her ribs which he had subtly corrected had enabled the body to return to health.
And of course what Dr Still learned that day was that first you must examine the structure because it is interrelated with function. With that new understanding came the birth of Osteopathy.
Dr Still is now in high demand
Soon so many people were thronging to see Dr Still that he became exhausted. They would come into his house at all hours, look everywhere for him and even search the village. It is said that many times he was discovered by the child in the neighbouring house hidden and sleeping under his bed sheets to try and get some respite, lest he suffer the common problem of burnout!
Clearly, Dr Still was amazing and way ahead of his time. He loathed slavery and war and was very proud of his American Indian roots. We learned that he was an exceptionally grounded man who was unbiased, determined and always humble.
Whilst he was a great healer, he finally realised that he needed to train more people in his techniques. In 1892, Dr Still opened the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, His students comprised 5 women (quite unimaginable at that time) and 16 men and included 3 of his own children.
Given that he didn’t like to spend money on himself, Dr Still even let his Osteopathic Students to cut his hair! Jason confided that there were probably more clumps of the great man’s hair still in existence than any other artefact!
Great stories to share with patients and the wider world!
It seems that ultimately Dr Still became so enthralled with his craft that he didn’t care for his own material wealth. He was extremely generous to those around him who had little money. He would give away his cash and anything else he felt they needed.
What touched me about his philanthropic nature was that he would consider whether they needed something more than he did. Generally, he would conclude that they did and so gifted the item to them. In the end his family became extremely concerned that they would end up penniless if his perpetual generosity continued unabated.
The family had to make a decision. So they put him on a small allowance and that resolved the problem! However, in his later years, apparently he even gave away his boots when a young man walked miles, barefoot, to come to see him for treatment.
Jason could even apply this Osteopathic philosophy to a regrettable incident
I was mightily impressed at the delicate way that Jason handled a regrettable incident during the Auckland conference. Whilst on stage giving the last lecture of the event, he gently informed us that one of Dr Still’s artefacts displayed on the Kirkland Museum’s stand was unaccounted for.
Jason then shared that this was indeed an unusual occurrence in Osteopathic circles and that the removal of the object was probably a mistake. He thoughtfully nodded as he hinted that he fully expected the item to reappear on the display before the day was out. Quietly reflecting, Jason then murmured that perhaps the person who had removed the object needed it more than Dr Still’s Kirksville museum did and in that case the loss could no doubt be accepted…
Having just forced myself to decide on some actual time off this Christmas, I’ve been reflecting on why I struggle with this
Why don’t I like taking time off?
Do I think I’ll miss out on something?
Do I worry that someone needing my help will be left hanging?
Or am I just fearful that I don’t have much else to fill the time with?
Do you struggle to take personal time out away from life’s demands?
I recently added up my working hours…
I was rather surprised to find that, including my fun Saturday job selling houses locally, I actually work a minimum of 60 hours per week! I had no idea. All I do know is that I love my work but my weeks do fly around like rotators on a helicopter!
I had to be very firm with myself to decide on time off. I had to ensure that I took more than just the festive period. It needed to be a better break than that. Because I really need to down tools, regroup and reboot!
But most of all I need to give myself permission to STOP and take time off!
Only by stopping our regular routine, can we pause and reflect on our habits. Maybe we will spot ways to become more efficient, maybe we will have a great new idea or maybe we will realise what changes need to be made in an area of life which is less than perfect.
So over the festive period I shall be looking at where I can be of better service to Osteopaths. I will see where I can improve systems to save me time. Then I will take some time to book a memorable mini break with the Old Boy who has a milestone birthday coming up on Valentine’s Day!
Time off gives us an opportunity to reflect
Meantime I am sure that I will have made enough space to allow new ideas to flow in, new courses I could provide and new nuggets of wisdom to share.
Whilst we all settle down with family at this time of year, let’s also take time off to settle down with ourselves; walk, practice yoga, allow space for our intuition to flourish, for our energy to replenish and for us to return to full health.
Indeed time off to just ‘be’ is a vital gift to give ourselves, not only for self-preservation but also the growth of our business.
Self care is something that tends to get put at the bottom of the ever expanding ‘to do’ list. That is certainly true for me! I work six days a week relentlessly and just about ‘allow’ myself a day off on Sunday where I generally dash about catching up on chores.
This morning I stumbled across a friend’s blog on Facebook telling of how she had been doing the same. She was mum, wife, mother, daughter, successful business owner and friend. And she had been pushing, working, juggling and generally running on empty for so long that she had recently keeled over with burn out. I was shocked to the core as she is someone I admire as she seemingly has it all, does it all and is monumentally successful.
When you’re a business owner, along with all the other jobs we have accumulated in life, we can easily end up ricocheting from one day to the next without much thought for our own self care. We might allow ourselves a lovely Epsom Salts soak in the bath but then dash to work and devote all our energies to our passion, helping others in whatever form that takes.
Why self care is crucial
The trouble is that if we run at life constantly at full pelt, we risk giving from an empty vessel. If we don’t take time out to switch off and do something else, we can become less able to give to our family, our friends and the people we serve. Burn out is a significant problem for Osteopaths and is something I hear about frequently.
It seems that more than average numbers of Osteopaths suffer with Fibromyalgia and other debilitating physical and emotional conditions and I wonder if that is partly because of a lack of self care added to a highly physical and demanding workload. So many of us love to give to others, to help and to relieve some of the burden which others cope with. In doing that we can sometimes take on some of their stuff and so deplete our own energy. So firm boundaries on our time and energy is very important.
Taking time out in our day is crucial to protecting ourselves from over doing it. I have realised today, after reading my friend’s blog, that I also relentlessly drive myself to work harder, create more new courses, fit in more VIP clients and then whip up a homemade casserole or spinach and ricotta lasagne for tea! Clearly it’s time to redress the balance to ensure that my body doesn’t force me to rest instead.
Taking time out!
Here’s what some are doing to ensure that they take time out for self care:
- Take an extra long lunch to nap, rest or take the dog for a walk
- Diarise sacrosanct time twice a week to go to the gym or physically exercise
- Regularly go horse riding, fishing or play golf
- Schedule in regular long weekends to spend recreational time with family or friends
- Book up holidays in advance to ensure you switch off entirely
- Delegate as much admin, cleaning, accounting etc as possible
- Practice meditation, pilates or yoga
- Get back to nature: visit the beach, the woods or walk barefoot on the grass
- Take extra time out to create a gorgeous and nutritious meal
- Read for enjoyment rather than learning
- Go to the cinema or theatre with loved ones
- Take up a new hobby for pleasure like painting, writing or crocheting
- Don’t forget to visit your Osteopath or go for a massage to take care of yourself too!
In my world if it isn’t in the diary, it just doesn’t happen and so today I am going to schedule in some fun, some exercise and some days out with friends who have seen very little of me over the past few years!
What extra self care activities are you going to plan for yourself over the coming weeks and months?
Who is your Team Tonto?
Lone Ranger Syndrome? Surely I’m making that up?
Interestingly, it’s something I see all too often. It’s when we’re trying to save money. Trying not to rely on others when, if we just pushed ourselves a little more, we could manage all by ourselves to handle everything associated with running a business.
But the Lone Ranger way of running a business is seriously bad for our health.
Believe me – I’ve been there too. Working crazy hours and trying to spin all the plates. I just got so tired and wrung out but I also realised something.
I wasn’t leaving enough mental bandwidth to focus on business building
In trying to be a Cleaner, an Accountant, a Book-keeper, a Marketing Ninja, a Techie Whizkid, a Time Management Queen, a Mother, Wife and Friend I had no time left. There was little time to plan ahead, to think things through, to just contemplate the best ways I could help you flourish.
This can end up leading to burn out which I actually wrote about in Osteopathy Today over two years ago.
The Lone Ranger no more!
As last year drew to a close, I made a decision. I was going to get some proper help and support in my business. And that meant hiring staff! WOW! The great thing about technology now is that some staff can be ‘virtual’ which does actually work really well.
So meet my new team:
Amanda – she likes to be known as a Char Lady!
Monday is now heavenly. Instead of all the fall out of a busy week and then weekend with visitors or returning children, I now have a clean home in less than two hours! It would take me at least double the time and I’d also lose the time I could have spent on my business. And for a few quid she’s happy and I’m happy. And the unexpected bonus is that I am not fretting about the state of the dusty shelves or the jam dripped on the worktop. So less stress is better for me.
Karen – my Virtual Assistant
Despite her living not too far from me, Karen can work virtually. She has taken some workload off me and saved me enormous time. So she has overhauled my freebie ebooks and templates etc and branded them consistently and tidied them up for me. Whilst I have extensive secretarial skills, I can be getting on with coaching more osteopaths while she takes the strain. Again the cost compared to my charge out rate makes sound financial sense. She’s also currently typing up my life story which is jotted down in journals and scraps of paper. Apparently she’s finding the story quite intriguing…
Karen might be handy for getting newsletters done and sent out, helping with scheduling social media posts etc. Find out if she can help you:
Virtual Office Support
07956 659 237
Emma – Accountancy Services
The bane of my life! Every business needs sound accounting so as to keep track of profits and loss, where savings can be made and so on. But before I know it, I’m two months behind because the weeks have spun by, I’ve been busy coaching and now it’s going to take forever to get it sorted. Then there’s the dreaded tax return!
A few months ago I employed Emma Stevens to take the strain. For the first January in years, I didn’t have to worry about getting the tax return in on time and more importantly absolutely correct.
I was once the victim (and I use that word advisedly) of a random tax inspection. Let me tell you that it was the most appalling experience and, despite not having done any wrong, I was hauled over the coals for months culminating in a two hour grilling by two tall gents in suits in a tiny room on the 17th floor of the Euston Tower. My husband was not even allowed to sit in as moral support. It was a monumental waste of tax payers’ money as I didn’t owe a penny in tax. Despite this scary and super stressful experience perhaps it is one that is at least useful as a warning to others.
So Emma takes care of everything now, including claiming for every penny allowed, most of which I would probably be unaware of. We’re setting up a simple accounting system so that I can see at a glance what’s going on month by month. This information will be invaluable in working out my future business growth. We can share information via our shared Dropbox folder and I can post any relevant paperwork to her if needed.
Again the stress and sweat saved has been enormous and knowing my tax and accounts are in safe hands is a real relief.
Find out if Emma can help you:
Emma Stevens FCCA BSc(Hons)
Chichi – website designer
Rather excitingly, I am having a new website designed by this lovely lady, Chichi Eruchalu. We have been online friends in business mentoring groups for well over two years. We have both flowered in our businesses and personally grown enormously in this time. Chichi favours functional websites with clean lines and uncluttered information.
With only around 5-7 seconds to keep a potential customer on your page before they head back to their search results, you need to grab their attention. If your message is unclear or your website isn’t mobile friendly, you will definitely be losing potential new patients.
Is it time for a website overhaul?
+44 (0)1375 484 150
So that’s the team as we head towards greater focus and success. What could you delegate this week? Where are you hemorrhaging time, energy and money?
If you get your marketing machine ticking over nicely, you’ll be drawing in more opportunities to treat more patients. And if you need help with that you can choose between Osteobiz Backbone Basics online course or some specific 1:1 Coaching with me and, I promise, we will find many new ways to bring you the income and success to enable you to outsource key headache-inducing tasks for good.
No more Lone Ranger!
Don’t leave it too late to service your business!
That would be a ridiculous notion, right? What would any sensible non-techie person do in reality? If we didn’t know how to service our car, which most of us don’t, we would book it in to our local garage. We would seek out the expert mechanic to quickly and efficiently look for problems, fix any faults and give it an oil change.
But what happens in your career if you don’t know how to ‘service your business’? Inevitably, it’s going to break down.
Over in my Osteobiz group on LinkedIn, we’re having some fascinating discussions on this. It’s interesting to hear how some Osteopaths are struggling along or even feel like giving up whilst the ebullient students are excited to get out there and build a thriving business.
What would a ‘service’ do for your business?
My experience to date has shown me how so many Osteopaths who are booked less than 80% of the time are still reluctant to get help. And it’s heart-breaking to see how so many have lost confidence, think their skills are at fault and blame themselves. It’s simply not true. The Osteopathic schools spend years training you up to be highly skilled, to work ethically and be more than competent. However, I have discovered that there are wildly differing opinions as to how quickly a graduating student might build a successful business. Some say within 2 years and some say it takes up to 15 years!
I very much wanted to give final year students some encouragement and vital marketing information. And to that end, I have this week arranged to present a class in May to the final year students at the British School of Osteopathy. Hopefully, they will take the basics of building a business with them and start their careers with some better defined goals and objectives.
The greatest misunderstanding of all
Just because the guy down the road is busier than you or appears to be ‘more successful’ doesn’t necessarily mean that his skills are any better than yours. But it may be true that he’s currently a better marketer than you!
Indeed when a struggling Osteopath does finally concede that they need help with a ‘service of their business engine’ they often come to me quite downhearted. However, we quickly establish where they are and where they want to be. Then we find avenues to explore, simple ways to attract new patients and easy cost-effective marketing to achieve their goals.
Generally, I work via Skype because I have Clients all over the UK and Ireland and even as far away as New Zealand and Canada. Once we’ve had a consultation, I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see happy, smiling faces about to dash off and implement a whole bunch of fresh ideas.
You know that your service is absolutely essential and vital to your community. Surely that’s why you became a highly trained and skilled Osteopath? Please don’t let down your neighbours just because you aren’t sure how to present your essential services to them. If I’m not your cup of tea, seek out someone who is, but please don’t delay another day.