Most people wonder when the right time to start a business is…
When lockdown was imposed in March 2020 Amanda Simpson from Mallusk knew she would have no choice but to postpone the opening date for her home based studio. As disappointed as she was, she used the opportunity to hone her marketing skills and write her first blog! She received virtual support from Mallusk Enterprise CEO Emma Garrett through The Business Start-Up Coaching programme. Through the programme she was able to access a £200 start-up grant which was used to purchase equipment for her new home salon.
Today we hear from Amanda about her enterprise journey…
Q. Did you always aspire to be self-employed
No not always. It all started for me back in the mid-nineties when I injured my back whilst working as a nurse in elderly care. I realised then that I needed to have “more strings to my bow” in terms of increasing my knowledge and skills re working in health care. Consequently, I began to explore alternative career paths related to health care and this in turn awakened my interest and passion in the sphere of holistic health , spirituality and healing. This then prompted me to gain qualifications in complementary therapies. It has been my dream and vision since this time to work as a self-employed holistic therapist.
I made various attempts since this time to provide therapies from home as well as continuing to work full-time in the NHS as a mental health nurse. However, more often than not other commitments & my increasing workload took priority so much so that for a long time I had even forgotten about fulfilling my dream. It wasn’t until I turned fifty in 2018, when I was able to take early retirement from nursing, that my passion was reignited. Since then I have determined to realise my vision and I’m pleased that I’ve been making progress despite many obstacles and hindrances.
Q. How long did you have your business idea before meeting with a Business Adviser to discuss?
About two years.
Q. What does your business do?
My business provides complementary therapies, namely Reflexology, Indian head massage & Reiki.
Q. Are you happy that you went into self-employment?
Yes I am, in spite of my fear & anxiety in making the transition. Its been very scary indeed!
Q. If you were to give one piece of advice to someone starting up what would it be?
I don’t believe that I’m in a position as yet to be giving anyone advice! I’m still very much a novice! Obviously it depends on the person , their background, knowledge, skills and experience and of course the business proposal itself. How realistic and achievable is it? We are all different and specific needs will differ but if I was to be pushed on it I’d say definitely seek out professional support.
I’m so glad I acted upon the offer via the “Go For It” programme advertisement which I saw on T.V. In that moment I decided to be brave, pick up the phone & make the appointment. I honestly haven’t looked back! Its very challenging but it is so worth it.
Q. What was the best part of the programme?
Meeting the team members! Sandra and Emma especially as they are so encouraging and supportive. Sandra helped me to develop my business plan before lockdown hit. I then applied for The Business Start Up Coaching Programme where Emma mentored me virtually (see screenshot below) over a 4 week period whilst we were all “locked down.” Emma helped me to set up my linked in profile and even create my first blog. I was then able to avail of a £200 grant from Antrim and Newtownabbey Council which enable me to purchase some equipment. Every little helps!!
It would be remis of me not to mention the other entrepreneurs that I’ve met via the workshops I’ve attended. We learnt so much from each other. It was just great to meet so many like-minded, enthusiastic & innovative women. The programme lends itself to networking & encourages everyone to support each other which I really resonated with. It was very encouraging & reassuring to know that guidance, help & support is available at every stage of my business development and that the team in Mallusk Enterprise Park let you know that they are contactable if you have any queries or concerns re your business. They have been extremely accommodating.
Q. How did you finance your business?
Fortunately , I was in a position to use monies that I received from my personal pension lump sum as I took early retirement from nursing in 2018 when I turned fifty.
Q. Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
My hope is that I will be working in my “Healing room” at home offering several clinics ( mornings/afternoons/evenings) a week to clients offering a bespoke menu of singular and combination therapies catering to their individual needs. I will provide the highest standard of service which meets their healing needs using the best natural products from reputable sources.
I hope to obtain additional qualifications in crystal healing which will be the perfect adjunct to the therapies that I already offer as well as being a wonderful healing therapy in its own right. I also aim to have an established network of therapist “buddies” whom I can recommend to my clients if required and likewise.
I will continue to develop professionally ensuring that I meet the required standard to continue to be registered with my governing body the Federation of Holistic Therapists by continually updating my knowledge, skills and practice. I will continue to attended our regular bimonthly F.H.T . local support meetings. I will have obtained my level 111 mastership in Reiki and will be offering courses to enable people to become attuned themselves in Reiki levels 1 and 11. These usually take the form of workshops over one or two days, usually weekends, every quarter.
I recently secured a post as a bank part-time bank therapist with a healing & wellbeing centre in North Belfast so I hope this post continues and develops further where I will have regular work.