The post-lockdown reality has awakened many entrepreneurs to the fact that they need to build more resilient businesses.
Coach, mentor, author and podcaster Emily Ball has been inspired to share her learnings from the pandemic, and how she’s grown her podiatry (study of the lower limb, specifically foot and ankle) practice in new ways.
Much of her success in business Emily puts down to the level of coaching she has received in the past, and continues to receive today. There are times where people wonder how much a coach can benefit from a coach. I was keen to hear Emily’s perspective on this, and how her success in the podiatry business can be applied to almost every business out there today.
Emily: “There are key coaching principles, but what a coach does is identify the individual things that that person needs to work on. I’m very intuitive and good at looking at healthcare practices and identifying key areas to focus on, and where they’d benefit from support. What really interests me is using the extensive knowledge that I have gained and applying it to different people in different ways to help them move forward.”
One of the things I really admire in Emily is her focus on continuous improvement. She’s always evolving and growing, a philosophy that she has baked into her business.
Emily: “To constantly evolve with changes in medicine, and advances in the way that treatment is delivered, we have to keep up to date as healthcare practitioners and business owners. It’s crucial that we reflect on the things that we currently do and make sure we are evolving in line with those. It’s the same with business.
There was once a time that we would advertise and say ‘we’re podiatrists; we can help you with verrucas, ingrown toenails and foot pain.’ Now we have learned from author Simon Sinek that people need to engage with you on a personal level first; building that connection helps your business stand out from the crowd.
When the pandemic hit I was unable to work in my practice and we had a team member return home to Ireland so my team was depleted. I realised my vulnerability and since my only revenue stream had been delivering services I was reliant on government support, which was a horrible feeling.
This led me to look at what I call outliers (people who do things differently from mainstream such as membership sites or online courses). We recently implemented a six-week membership scheme for general foot care with great success. It’ll deliver repeat and predictable revenue.”
There are so many different ways that people have strengthened their business over the past year. Emily is keen to showcase ‘the outliers’ who helped pave the way for her in her book due out in spring. I’m interested in how she found such clarity in a chaotic year.
Emily: “Reflective practice; taking the time to look at the way we used to do things, how we are doing them now, and how we can do things differently to have greater impact. Nobody wants to go back to the Dark Ages.”
I found this approach fascinating as I notice a tendency in business to avoid reflection and focus on the next level. Many people get stuck in the past by limiting beliefs or how things used to be but I’ve been told that I get stuck in the future with my brain racing ahead with the latest ideas. Stopping, taking stock and building on what exists rather than reinventing the wheel sounds like a solid plan. I’m keen to know how Emily puts this into practice.
Emily: “I use the Gibbs Reflective Cycle. It helps you examine the evidence for what you’re doing in your business right now and what the new evidence is for doing things differently going forwards. You need to have a strategy and know the steps you’ll take to get there to implement that. Once implemented, you return to the beginning of the cycle.
We have a rhythm which is integral to how we run our business. We have meetings monthly, quarterly, and then a longer meeting to set our quarterly rocks [big goals]. We have a real structure and are always referring to our greater goals, to our vision which is 12 months and then three to five years. I’m amazed how many people don’t do this because I think one way to stagnate or not reach the level of growth you want is poor planning.”
Emily’s concepts around planning are really interesting. From experience, a lot of entrepreneurs struggle to do it because they are often too busy or trying to keep up with the ever-changing online world or new ways to do business. I really enjoyed hearing how Emily makes sure her planning actually happens.
Emily: “I think the majority of healthcare practice owners work in isolation or perhaps with one other person. They’re micro businesses where the day-to-day things take priority. They have to plan ahead. In November we plan all my meetings (weekly, monthly and quarterly) for the whole year. It’s all in the calendar. If you don’t do that, simple things get missed and don’t happen; that slows down business growth.”
This sounds like a brilliant idea but I wonder how practical it is for some small businesses who might feel like they’ve wasted valuable time if things change in the interim. Fortunately for us, Emily has already considered this.
Emily: “If it’s not in there to start with it’s never going to happen. We have to accept that some things must take priority and set boundaries, but without forward planning you’ve got nothing to work with and you’re more likely to go six months and not have worked on your business. It’s not ideal to just live day to day and hope everything turns out okay. Sometimes it will and sometimes it won’t, but look at how the pandemic affected business. Most healthcare practices did not have a continuity plan. They had no foresight or planning in place to deal with the crisis.”
I love the knowledge and passion that Emily clearly has for personal and professional growth. I wonder how she creates the time to maintain it with a busy practice, her podcast, her regular hosting on social audio app ClubHouse, and writing her book.
Emily: “It’s essential and you need to be creative about how to incorporate that into your day. I managed to clock up 24 hours of listening to personal development books whilst on the school run. People need to find the ‘dead time’ and make good use of it.”
I’m inspired by Emily’s story as to how she’s moved from sole practitioner to creating a robust and resilient business where she is no longer reliant on a single source of income. She’s fully embraced the opportunity to develop herself and her business further, and we’re delighted to help her do that at Write Business Results.
If you’d love to know more about how we can support you to develop a personal brand and stand out from the crowd, get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org
To hear my full conversation with Emily tune into our Interviews with Experts podcast.