The year was 2009. Barack Obama had recently been elected president and had completed his first 100 days in office. The subprime mortgage market had hit bottom 2 years prior, creating a veritable ripple effect that caused an international banking crisis, and ultimately the financial crisis that would later be coined “The Great Recession.”
When I put the steps in place to start my own physical therapy clinic, I did not see these events coming…I’m not sure who did. I was a rather green physical therapist with only 5 years’ experience under my belt working at an outpatient orthopedic facility. I had toyed with the idea of one-day owning a clinic of my own – one that would offer a personalized, whole-body approach to wellness (Our tag-line would later become Personalized Holistic Healing, for Life). I had some solid encouragement from my older brother who had owned an operated a successful catering business for 12 years. I’m still not sure what I was thinking trying to start my own enterprise in the wake of such an economic downturn, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing.
After months of preparatory work, I had created what I thought was a solid business plan. It outlined my mission and vision statements, my staff requirements, my asset list, my month by month projections of costs and revenues for the first 3 years of practice, and much more. It even included my financial break-even point. I was so excited to have put these numbers in place and was ready to take my plan to potential lenders. I had no idea how they would react.
Bank after bank listened to my proposal and flat-out turned me down. They were unwilling to take a risk on me, and they were quick to say so. It was discouraging, and I did wonder whether I should even continue to try. I decided to take a different approach and meet with a smaller bank to see if they had any interest in lending me the start-up costs I required. I did not get my hopes up too high because of all the denials I had received thus far. Much to my surprise and delight, this smaller banking institution was willing to take a chance on me and my idea!
I was given the green light, and I opened for business in July of 2009. The first year in business was the most taxing financially, mentally, and emotionally. There were several months where there was literally no money in reserve, and no sight of it coming in, yet the bills had to be paid, including the crucial principle and interest on the loan from the bank. Somehow, that first year came and went, as did 9 more. Since 2009, we have changed locations once, hired several new employees, and broadened our offerings to include several other health-promotion services. I have learned a great deal since that first day in July of 2009, things I could never have learned in a book, or from a class.
As I look back on 10 years of owning Functional Health and Wellness in Oak Park, I am grateful for the opportunity to interact with, and to help so many patients and clients in the area. I am humbled by the fact that people continually choose to come to us as opposed to one of the larger physical therapy chains that are more well-known. We take it very seriously when our patients and clients trust us to help them feel better. Looking forward from 2019, I have a vision of improving upon what I started. I want to continue to offer, “Personalized, Holistic Healing, for Life,” but I want to do it in a way that offers people more ownership over their health and well-being, along with greater flexibility, and improved accessibility to the services we offer.
Moving forward in 2019, we will have many new services to offer at Functional Health and Wellness. In addition to physical therapy we will offer Neurologic Dry Needling, Cupping, Strength Training, Osteoporosis and Fall Prevention Training, and Health/Nutrition Coaching. I am dedicated to building upon what was started 10 years ago. So, here’s to the next 10 years of bringing the best physical therapy and wellness to the residents of Oak Park, and beyond!
P.S. We will be celebrating our 10-Year Anniversary all year with promotions, wellness meet-ups, seminars, and even a party this summer. Keep an eye out for more information to come!