Osteopathy as a Small Business
Wealden Business Group, Tenterden, Kent
When a Chartered Surveyor friend invited me as his guest to a Business Breakfast Club meeting in Tenterden I was a little reluctant to accept, the idea of getting up early to swap business cards with a bunch of earnest business types in suits did not really appeal. After all Osteopaths are different to other businesses, our issues are quite unique to our profession, aren’t they?
Eventually the promise of a free breakfast won me over (my Scottish roots again). With some trepidation I went along and it wasn’t quite what I expected. There was a lot of enthusiasm, people were talking with obvious pride about their work and achievements and sharing tips and ideas about what they would do in the future.
I realised that I had far more in common with these guys than I thought. I went again as a visitor (paid for my own breakfast this time) and again the same enthusiasm was there. One or two people asked my advice such as how to manage a dodgy knee and what does tennis elbow mean. I was impressed with the openness and the attitude of thoughtful enquiry within the group. I applied for membership and was accepted.
What happens at a meeting
We meet every Wednesday morning at 7.00 am. Usually 20–25 people are present, being the majority of members sometimes with guests. The chairman opens the meeting at 7.15 am then each person is asked, in turn, to speak for a couple of minutes or so; it can be as simple as saying who you are and what you do but usually it is something topical to do with your work or profession. Sometimes an individual will share a success story or a problem, tips and advice flow freely within the group and often discussion is generated that benefits everyone.
By 7.45 am everyone has spoken and we deal quickly with business referrals before moving on to the main speaker, sometimes a guest speaker or more often one of the members. This lasts until about 8.15 am leaving 10–15 minutes for some penetrating questions and comments. Every member is expected to give one or two presentations a year and standards are high.
Looking back I can see many advantages of membership.
From an Osteopathy Practice point of view it is a shift in attitude. Overall I have become more proactive, if there is an area of my work that I feel needs a boost I am now more likely to do something about it.
In preparation for my first presentation to the group I went back over my most recent 200 or so osteopathy treatments to see how my practice profile looked. I broke the data down into categories by age, gender, and type of treatment. The tables I produced showed me a few things I hadn’t noticed and highlighted some areas where I needed to make some changes.
For example I discovered that I am treating twice as many men as woman in the 60+ age group and three times as many women as men in the 30-60 years group. As my starting premise is that almost everyone benefits from osteopathy, it is clear which groups I need to educate.
Since then, I have given presentations on various topics related to Osteopathy including how to choose a bed and how to set up your car driving position. Most recently, I talked about acupuncture and demonstrated a shoulder treatment on a patient who was a willing volunteer.
Membership of the Wealden Business Group is limited to one person per profession. From a personal point of view I have made friends and professional contacts outside my own field. I know that if I need advice from any of the experts in the group it is only a phone call away and if anyone needs my advice they just have to ask.
I have broadened my awareness of the outside world. We have a range of speakers from inside and outside the group. Recent topics have included Backing Up Computer Records, changes in Data Protection Laws, how the Pension and Investment Market works, Intellectual Copyright, Professional Image and many more. On a lighter note, one of our members gave a talk and demonstration of belly dancing.
I also have a much more solid system of backing up computer files.
And where else can you go to get rapid, informal advice from a solicitor, a surveyor, pensions, insurance, investment experts, a travel agent and yes, an osteopath?
Find out More
If anyone is interested in finding out more, or even setting up their own group there is a lot of information on our Wealden Business Group website: www.wealden-business-group.co.uk