Two Years of being a Naturopathic Physician
How the last two years have been since I started up my business.
How the last two years have been since I started up my business.
I graduated today two years ago. Two years ago I started my business. I had this plan of direction that I had devised during a module at Uni called ‘Starting Your Practice’ and I was told that it was achievable and the time frames were right etc. I have over the last two years discovered that the lecturer who taught us, in actual fact, had no idea about the realities of starting your own practice and all the advice and the essays and research done in that module was a complete waste of time. It has been hard letting go of that as it was the last module to be done, with huge assignments that took hours when I was at breaking point, and to realise it was all a load of rubbish. Well. That was hard.
The first year was expensive. Getting ready for being in business and everything that that entails. Paying for things like literature to be printed, website made, domain name bought, insurance, multiple regulatory body payments made so I could register with the CNHC as part of the elite in this country, buying equipment for patients and god knows what else all adds up. I also did more training after I made the decision to specialise in mother and baby so I’m safe to look after them and to be able to offer specific treatments for them.
I’m now ready for clients. I can see how I can be of benefit. I know I am well qualified. And then the realisation of how the hell do I get them? Why don’t more people want to see me? Why don’t they understand how I can help and spending the money with me will be so much better than what they are doing at the moment? Why has someone said they want to see me and not book in? At what point do I become harassing rather than nudging to see if they will actually book in? Where are the referrals they said they had for me? And then. I got bullied out of the flat I was living in and had to move back to my parents outside of London.
It was weird. I didn’t really tell anyone I had moved in terms of all the networking I do or when meeting potential people to do collaborations with etc, but it was like the Universe knew. In my first year I had the grand total of 4 Naturopathy patients. Four. FOUR. I was told that I would easily have one or two a week. A WEEK.
I think it was around September 2015, so 10 months in that I had a complete wobble. Was I doing the right thing? Had I made a massive mistake? Should I just go and get a ‘proper job?’. Having to defend, or rather, feel like I had to defend why I had so few clients and didn’t work part time for someone else to at least have some regular money coming in. It’s so hard when you have people who love and care for you giving you business advice when they have only ever been employees, because in the nicest possible way, they have NO idea what it’s like to a) set up your own business on your own and B) have a job that no one knows what it is. Even them. But I’m determined and I did not accrue all that debt from another degree, work that hard, nearly destroy myself in the process to become a civil servant or similar. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with being a civil servant… I hear the pension is very good!
So I kept going. Doing just what I do. I don’t have the energy levels to do one thing for half the week and then do everything I need to do for my business to get it going the rest of the time. No one quite understands, unless they have it, the impact of chronic fatigue on working full time, every day, no breaks, because that’s what happens when you are self-employed. When it’s your name. When you are accountable to no one but you. And if it fails, you fail. I fail. And that is not something I was prepared to do.
I joined a coaching programme for a year – the first 6 months were brilliant and really helped me, the second 6, not so much. But at least I tried and I gave it a shot.
And then I moved back to London. A very generous loan from a family member meant that I could come back as they leant me 6 month’s rent so I could get back on my feet.
And then it’s like something happened. Well something did happen. I began to have clients. People booking in. Referrals have started. Ok, so I’m not earning big money, but I have a fairly constant amount coming in every month. The networking that I have been doing for the last 2 and a half years is really beginning to pay off. I’m getting good results with those who are in the groups. They are beginning to understand what I do and see how it’s of benefit. They don’t raise their eyebrows when I say how much I cost.
I’ve joined a co-working space. This has saved my soul. I’m surrounded by people who have started their own companies. Some like me are fairly small and new, others are much bigger with staff. I now go to work and as much as possible I leave my laptop in my rucksack when I get home. Home is now home and chill. Ok, I might do a fair amount of emails on my phone and social media stuff, but if it’s on my phone it doesn’t feel like work so much. And yes, I am often at work.life the co-working space on a Saturday and Sunday doing admin or patient research or whatever else I need to do but I can mooch in after a really lovely 40 minute walk down Columbia Road and Broadway Market to London Fields or it’s 7 minutes on the train from Liverpool Street. And I can chat to people and have that interaction that I didn’t have when I was working from home. As my energy levels are as always a bit of a challenge, I would often work all day at my laptop on the sofa, speak to no one other than my parents on the phone, then stop working around 8pm. Watch something rubbish on catch up, still on the sofa and then go to bed. This is not healthy. So whilst being here, at work.life is an added outgoing that is slightly stressful, the people I meet here make it worth it. I’m also doing a monthly massage clinic and talks on what I do so I’m sure it won’t be long before I get a few clients from here. And they have fun events with great independent companies and food start-ups and everything that I’m into.
A few weeks ago, and ok it’s a first so far, I earnt £700. (In my first year I think I earnt about £1700). I’m sure it won’t be long until it’s a regular amount coming in. Also in the last week I have been asked to write a monthly blog post for a mother’s website and they are also going to feature me and my services. I’m also launching a City clinic with my mother and I’m sure it’s going to do really, really well.
So the last two years have had many many lows and I’ve probably cried at least a paddling pool’s worth of tears. Wondering how the hell I’m going to pay my rent, the rent for the clinic rooms that I have, the heating, for food, for supper on the rare occasion I go out with my friends. Wondering when I’m going to get a break and see that it’s all been worth it. But. Over the last 6 months the highs have definitely started to outweigh the lows. And I am so glad that I stuck with it.
Being self-employed, as a Naturopathic Physician, is the hardest thing I have ever done. But it gives me the freedom and flexibility to co-run and attend monthly networking meetings which have made my business what it is, and to also help my sister out with childcare. I get to spend two or three days a month with my niece who is now two and a bit. Those days are so precious to me and no matter how rubbish everything is. Making her laugh and getting cuddles from her. Well. There are no words.
I also recently had a pregnant patient with IBS which they had had for 17 years and really struggled with it. After 6 sessions they said I fixed them. To see a parents face relax and light up as their baby changes from screaming with a colicky tummy to smiling as I gently talk them through the tummy routine in a baby massage class. To be sent photos of new born babies after you have looked after both baby and mother during pregnancy with reflexology and massage. Well. What else would I want to spend my time doing?!
So this is the most incredibly long brain vomit about my second work anniversary, and I hope in a year’s time, my business has done the same amount of growth as it has this year, if not more. And if you don’t know what a Naturopathic Physician is:
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