Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
My name is Vicky Smith. I’ve been a physio for 25 years and four years ago I made the leap into self employment and started my own business Taylored Fit Physio, in Durham.
I’m also a mum to four gorgeous children (I know, I’m biased!): Ella is 11, Chloe and Zack are eight and Josh is six. Married to Mark (also a physio – we interbreed us physios!), and we have two golden retrievers Monty and Brodie. Our household is crazy but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Tell us about your business
Initially, when I started my business from one of our bedrooms at home, it was only me. I provide physio and acupuncture and specialise in craniosacral therapy, a gentle hands-on treatment used for adults with chronic pain, migraines, stress, anxiety and complex conditions. It’s also my privilege to treat lots of babies, toddlers and children – everything from colic, reflux, sleeping/feeding problems to autistic spectrum disorders in older kids.
Two and a half years ago, as I hit full capacity and Mark had joined the business for one day a week, we began the search for premises. After the disappointment of a property falling through, a year ago we bought an old Baptist Chapel in Langley Park, Durham. One of my patients told me you could buy commercial property with your pension, so that’s how I did it (thank you George). We then realised it was going to be a mahoosive undertaking to convert it into our vision of a physio and wellness centre, so we applied for a LEADER grant (now that was a task and a half!). In January, we got it, securing 40% of the build-work costs. The builders have been amazing and in June we launched!
We have five beautiful treatment rooms and a huge studio. In addition to physiotherapy, acupuncture and craniosacral therapy, we now provide sports massage, podiatry, holistic therapies, traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture, counselling, pilates and yoga, with lots more scope for the future! I’ll be running pilates classes from September (breaking a bone in my foot 2 days before launch was definitely not on my ‘to do list’! – so not in a position to teach a class but I can do one-to-ones at the moment!).
What are the most sparkly bits of what you do?
I love, love being a physio. The job satisfaction is the driver, the ability to relieve someone’s symptoms, explain a diagnosis, help a baby sleep, feed or poo (#icanmakebabiespoo!), and see the relief on parents faces, you can never get used to that. I am lucky that laughter seems to play a big part of my days and people often say they hear me before they see me! I love connecting with people and a lot of my patients become true friends. I feel humbled and honoured to be doing a job that I truly love.
What are the biggest challenges you face running your business?
Juggling everything! I probably do far too many clinical hours, partly because that’s my favourite bit, partly because people ask for me. I therefore end up doing accounts, paperwork, emails, staff stuff and social media on an evening or early in the mornings. I am getting better at it and as we have now ‘employed’ our first member of staff, Jill, our receptionist, I am trying to delegate some stuff. Not easy though! I probably do more hours per week than I’ve ever done, but it’s for me, it’s for my family, so there’s no resentment – just tiredness!
What have been your biggest achievements and how have you celebrated them?
When I first went self employed, it seemed a giant risk, a huge leap. It was the best move of my career. The diary was mine and I could pick the kids up from school and be at concerts and sports days without asking ‘permission’ from anyone.
My biggest achievement is definitely The Chapel: the building, the space, is a squillion times better than I’d ever imagined. As far as celebrating, not really – we’ve been so busy – although Mark and I have a few cheeky nights out planned and fizz may be involved!
What are your goals – for yourself and your business?
We have huge potential for the business, to fill the space with more people, more services. But it has to be the right people, the right services that fit with us and our brand, our ethos. So it will take time. We will also look at using upstairs as an event space for corporate events, workshops and courses, which I’m looking forward to exploring.
Personally, I’d like to create more balance and fit more self-care into my life (do as I say, not as I do!). The intention has been set and I have to start making myself a bit more of a priority! As a family, we’d love to have a family holiday abroad next year, so I’ve said it here first!
What is your favourite place in the North East and why?
I love where we live in Durham, I love Whitley Bay and Tynemouth as my grandparents were from Whitley Bay, so I have wonderful childhood memories of the Rendezvous Café (which hasn’t changed one bit!), the open air swimming pool (I remember being terrified when seaweed floated in!!). But Hexhamshire, where we moved when I was 11, holds my heart. My dad and stepmum still live in our family home and I still feel like I’m home when I’m there. I also feel connected to my mum there, who passed away ten years ago.
Who puts a Sparkle in your eye?!
Mark, my amazing, calm, patient husband. We’ve been married 15 years, and have had some rough things to get through (miscarriage, IVF, premature eldest, born at 25 weeks, mum passing away), but we find humour most days and we stay grounded and feel more deeply in love than when we got married. Also our kids, who make us laugh every day and remind us what it’s all for. Grateful is an understatement.
A final Sparkly thought – what tips would you give to busy, hard-working entrepreneurs?
Be you. Be authentic. Be aware of your competitors, but don’t try and do what they do. Celebrate the small stuff and take your time. Be patient.
Remember why you started and what motivates you, because when you’ve had a tough day, that will lift you, that will guide you.
Set the intention and they will come. But more than anything, believe in yourself. If you doubt yourself, your products or services, your customers will know.