Katie Bell, a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor and also the Founder of Thrive Health & Wellness Business Coaching, which exists to plug a huge gap for health and wellness business owners, who often gain their training and qualifications with no business or marketing advice, support or knowledge.
Katie has helped over 10,000 people move better, feel better and live better… after establishing her first Physiotherapy and Wellness Clinic in Sheffield in her late twenties, Katie then went on to grow her clinic to multiple 7 figures and a team of 30+ experts. Katie continues to practice as a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor, but her focus this year is very much on sharing her knowledge and experience to help other health and wellness professionals and practice owners to realise their own goals, so they can run bigger, more profitable businesses and as an industry they can impact people’s health and wellness on a much bigger scale. She is passionate about empowering the wellbeing profession to grow despite the recession and this year has launched her new podcast ‘Treat Your Business’, which has entered the UK Fitness at Number 8 beating sporting giants Nike to the finish line.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
At the age of 21, I left university with a 1st class honors degree in Physiotherapy and went straight into the UK job crisis in the NHS – this meant there were very few jobs for the newly qualified Physiotherapists to step into. I ended up taking a 12-month role at the University and followed a very different path to most of the Physio’s qualifying at that time and in the past.
I then went on to gain 5 years of clinical experience and learning to run a business. I worked closely with the owner of the business and developed and transformed his Pilates service, launched and ran an acute spinal service and had to behave like a business owner! I always felt I had more to give and I wondered after 5 years……. is this all I was going to do until my thumbs gave up!
That is when I established my first Physiotherapy and Wellness Clinic in Sheffield at the age of 28. I then went on to grow my clinic to multiple 7 figures and a team of 30+ experts. Although I continue to practice as a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor, my focus this year is very much on sharing my knowledge and experience to help other health and wellness professionals and practice owners to realise their own goals, so they can run bigger, more profitable businesses and as an industry they can impact people’s health and wellness on a much bigger scale.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
When I was 10, I entered a Blue Peter competition and I told them I was going to become a Lawyer – I have no idea where this has come from! The next memory I have is being a young teenager and visiting a Physiotherapist for a nasty ankle injury playing netball, and she had seahorses in a fish tank and I went on to visit her for a while to rehab my injury, and I think this is what sparked my interest. I know I talked about it a lot as I met a friend in a bar who I had not seen since 16 and she said, ‘Are you a Physio yet?” So, I had clearly gone on about it! Apart from that, I wouldn’t say I planned it, but I always felt I had more to give but each step of my career has allowed me to get to where I am now.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
I have overcome the challenges of both mindset and strategy.
I have been utterly burnout out and exhausted and can empathize with other business owners.
There is so much that you don’t know you don’t know as a new business owner – and this can leave us feeling overwhelmed and deflated when things are not quite working out as we envisaged, despite us working all hours God sends.
In the early days of my business, I was like a circus performer – I was the Physio, the Pilates instructor, the accountant, the marketeer, the cleaner and the receptionist but I was not doing all of these roles well – and I recognised very early on there was a lot I didn’t know. Only from there did I then discover all the stuff (of which there were lots!) that I didn’t even know I didn’t know!
I decided to fast-track the process as I didn’t want to spend years fumbling around in the dark, and so found someone who had already walked my path, and I started my journey with a coach – who helped me to grow into a team of 18 within the first 2 years and turnover multiple 6 figures quickly.
What did you struggle with most when you first started your own business?
I struggled with boundaries! They were non-existent at first. I needed to make it work! I was running a business from a place of fear, what if I don’t get people booking in, what if people don’t want to work with me, what if I can’t make enough money to pay the bills? This meant when customers wanted appointments early morning, late night, Saturdays, I said YES! This quickly led to burnout and exhaustion, and luckily, I spotted it and changed my actions and behaviours and boundaries quickly. I knew the more hours I worked IN the business the slower the growth of the business was, but at the start it’s really difficult to see this and take the necessary action required.
What has helped you gain a better balance?
Automation: in business and life! What can you automate in your business or your life to reduce the time you spend on repeating activities over and over? The first thing to do would be to track where you spend your time for one week, and notice activities that you do again and again. Examples in life…. Nipping into the shop! Can you automate a food delivery once a week, and create a shopping list on Alexa? In your business, posting on social media – can you time block once a month for 3 hours and get all your content creation done at once for the month ahead! This makes you much more productive, focused and you are not spreading a task out across the full month.
Planning: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! I like to spend half an hour on a Sunday planning the full week ahead, from what my morning routine looks like, what I eat, what exercise I will do, what time I start and finish work, when I walk the dog, when I am socializing, when I need to travel… this means I can instantly spot when I have set myself up for failure. It reduces decisions I need to make on basic stuff, and allows me to be much more productive. If its not in the diary it does not happen, and doing this before the week starts means you can make adjustments. What have you said YES to, you should have said NO to?
Outsourcing! Do what you do best and outsource the rest! If you are someone who never has any time, a huge to do list, a busy mum, no me time, then I would advise spending a week looking at what you do and how many hours it takes you to do it. Someone times we need to accept we can’t do it all, and need to get help to free our time up for either, working on your business, for YOU, for time out. Even something as small as someone managing your inbox for £15 an hour, would help you be productive and focused and free you to focus on the things that move your life or business forwards.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Looking back, I am so grateful for many achievements and it’s all part of getting me to where I am now – it’s really hard to choose just one, I was thrilled recently when my latest podcast ‘Treat Your Business’, entered the UK Fitness at Number 8 beating sporting giants Nike to the finish line.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
My Team – you are only as good as your team around you! If you want to grow, you need GREAT people around you. These great people need to be rowing on the same boat, from the same map. Being the leader requires you to give them the map, with the destination and be prepared to get people off your boat who may risk sinking it.
I would also say my ‘relentless’ commitment to achieve and succeed. I don’t give up, I am consistent, and I have real passion for what I do.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I experienced rapid growth in my business, but once I committed to finding my own mentors and learning from others who had tread a similar path, it ignited a flame in me to be that leader who guides my peers to ensure they get more joy, and profits from their practices, which can often become “monsters they have created”. My business Thrive Health & Wellness Business Coaching, exists to mentor, coach and support in plugging a huge gap for health and wellness business owners, who often gain their training and qualifications with no business or marketing advice, support or knowledge.
I hope that my podcast is also in effect mentoring others too – in the first four episodes, I covers the 4 key foundations that often businesses don’t have in place to help them grow and build businesses they actually love, rather than being stuck on the hamster wheel of being an underpaid overworked employee in their business as she helps others to move the dial from treating their business like a job to growing it as a business that really provides for them.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
Accelerating change for gender parity requires a multifaceted approach that involves both systemic and cultural shifts. I would change childcare support and the ever-rising costs around this, which is forcing women to have to make decisions over career and family, when they should be able to do and be both.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
YOU are the biggest limitation, if you want to create a different result, you first have to look at yourself! Our beliefs dictate our actions, and our business is product of these. Don’t ignore you and your mindset in your development and business growth plans. Commit to continually working on you, you are never ‘done’.
What would you advice someone who is setting up their business or just entering the world of entrepreneurship?
Don’t try and do it alone, go and find someone who can help you, learn from, and bounce ideas off. You only know what you know, and what you don’t know. BUT there is so much you don’t know you don’t know yet!
This will be like the biggest rollercoaster you have ever been on, there will be a lot of ups and many downs, but it will be thrilling! Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
To reach more and more people – My mission is to impact the health and wellness of our nation on a big scale and by supporting these business owners who are great at what they do, but lack the confidence and knowledge to make their business fly, we can make a greater impact on people’s health. I am excited to be in someone’s ears via my podcast, as they drive, walk the dog, or go for a run, and make them feel empowered and excited about the potential they have. They just need the push, encouragement and support.
Where can people find out more?
I would love clinic or business owners to come and join our free Facebook community here. This is a place full of FREE resources, guides, support, and advice for business owners in the health and wellness industry.
You can also listen to my ‘Treat Your Business’ Podcast here.