Here, Geraldine McCullagh reflects on the changes in her business over a landmark 21 years…
I became a self-employed Complementary Therapist in April 1996. I currently offer Aromatherapy Massage, Reflexology and Indian Head Massage treatments in Musselburgh, East Lothian. I have also expanded the business to teach Complementary Therapy courses in the Edinburgh area.
Looking back over the years, running the behind the scenes of a therapy business has changed considerably. Back in 1996, my advertising was limited to a listing in the Yellow Pages and putting up flyers in Edinburghâ€™s health food shops.
Comparing that to today, many changes have happened over the past 21 years.
New Communication Skills
In 1996, the majority of my communication was done by phone calls and letter writing. Today, it is about replying to my e:mails promptly, posting beautiful images on Facebook and writing regular blogs about therapies.
New Advertising Skills
Having a website rather than printed flyers is the way I now market my therapy business. Clients and students can check out my website and can then decide to book a therapy appointment or book on a Complementary Therapy course. They can also type into Google for e.g. â€˜will Reflexology help with headachesâ€™ rather than phoning me to check.
New Work/Life Balance
In todayâ€™s 24/7 world, I feel I need to respond to emails, texts and calls within minutes of receipt even though they are not urgent. If away for a short break or a weekend, I no longer write a Holiday E:mail Message as I can check e:mails coming in via my phone.
New Digital Skills
I believe having a website is now a must for any business. To have a good web presence though, I also had to learn and understand the importance of keywords, SEO and meta descriptions. Thankfully, there is help via Business Gateway to get to grips with that.
New Approaches to Continual Learning
To keep up to date with Â Complementary Therapies, I can now read research on the internet rather than read manuals. I can also do online courses that work around my business. Listening to webinars about alternative medicine and Mindfulness via my Smart TV is also a new approach to learning.
Sayings like â€˜The cheque is in the postâ€™ has now been replaced with â€˜I will do a BACS transferâ€™ or â€˜I will pay via Paypalâ€™. Other sayings are â€˜I will scan and e:mail you a completed booking formâ€™ has replaced â€˜I will post you the completed booking form for the courseâ€™.
What hasnâ€™t changed or wonâ€™t change is that people still choose to do business with people they like. Clients still want a therapist that they can trust and confide in. Students attending courses still want value for money and want to have an enjoyable learning experience.
To summarise, no matter what business you are in, to stay profitable you need to embrace the changing trends. I have always enjoyed running behind the scenes of my business and also enjoyed learning. This has helped me evolve my therapy business over the past 21 years. I am planning to be business for at least another 21 years so excited to see what changes will occur by 2038.