Charlotte Anderson, Owner, Alpha Health Services
I grew up in a family of business minded people. I was surrounded by MBA’s, business owners, presidents of companies… it was all I knew. My parents worked in business, my grandparents worked in business, and I always thought I would work in business…
I graduated with my Masters in Physiotherapy in 2012 and my first job was in a public clinic in Toronto. At first, it was exactly what a new graduate would want- the experiences treating many different patients, good mentorship, flexible work hours, and a fully equipped environment to treat patients. I enjoyed the physical therapy aspect, but struggled with the company I worked for, their values, their expectations, and adhering to their objectives and missions. I felt I wasn’t given the opportunity to work as I saw was best for my patients while working for this clinic.
First Steps in Opening Alpha Health Services
So, a year after graduating as a Physiotherapist, I decided I would go out on my own. This decision did not come lightly, I had thought about it a lot, saved my money, weighed the pros and cons, and had discussed the implications of starting a small business with many different people. But I don’t think anything can completely prepare you for taking such a big step and opening a private clinic. Once I signed the lease, for an 800 square foot space in Toronto, I knew there was no turning back! I bought the minimum equipment I required to treat my patients effectively. I brainstormed company names, I wanted something that didn’t pigeon hole the business to just physiotherapy, in the hopes of growing. I incorporated the business, opened a business bank account, had a website developed, and for the first few weeks wondered why in the world I had thought this was a good idea!
However, I quickly started booking clients. Word of mouth referrals were my biggest source of new patients, and I will forever be grateful to those patients who spread the word. My case load grew, and within the year I had hired a part time massage therapist and another physiotherapist.
Expansion of Alpha Health Services
At the two year mark we had outgrown our space, and moved down the street to a much larger space, with more treatment rooms, a small gym, and room to expand again. There are now 4 physiotherapists, a massage therapist and a dietitian who work at the clinic. We have contracts with two high school sports teams in Toronto, and have opened two satellite clinics.
I never realized the possibility of being a business owner and a treating physiotherapist, I didn’t think about being able to wear both hats. I am grateful for this chance to challenge myself as a physiotherapist, making sure I provide a comprehensive service to help people get better, and as a small business owner.
The Challenges of Starting a Small Business
There are challenges owning a business- managing the people who work for you, creating a strong, supportive and dynamic staff, making sure you budget properly, continuing to grow as technology and the world around us progresses at an unbelievable speed. But the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes when you know that this business is yours, the good, the bad, the positives, it is you. You are responsible, you eat, sleep, breathe, this business. The business becomes part of who you are. You love it and you can hate it. It brings you the most joy, and can cause emotional upheaval. There are days when you have the best job in the world, and days where you wonder why you decided to start a company. Times when you feel lucky to be in the field, and days where you wish you worked a 9-5 job. Because owning a small business will never be a 9-5 job, so you have to believe in the company, love what you do, hire like minded people and take risks to allow for growth.
For me, this journey is far from over. It is just starting. I feel lucky to be able to be doing something I love by practicing physiotherapy. I feel grateful I have some “business” in my blood and I took a risk to start a company that stays true to my values and challenges me in a field I love. …..Charlotte Anderson
Congratulations Charlotte! Charlotte and her business have been profiled in a recent Globe and Mail article on the advantages of incorporating a small business. She also blogs about health issues on her website. If you are a weekend athlete or a serious fitness buff, a physiotherapist can help you prevent serious injuries, advise you on how to strengthen weak areas of your body and help you heal. If you are in Toronto, Charlotte and Alpha Health Services can take good care of you!