Taryn Watson is a Physiotherapist from Perth with a Masters Degree in Continence & Women’s Health, and is a certified clinical pilates instructor. She started her company FitRight after regularly treating new Mums with common issues like urinary incontinence or vaginal prolapse, which had been brought on or worsened by returning to exercise without correct guidance and rehabilitation. Through FitRight, she has trained over 20 other local female physiotherapists to be highly skilled in the area of pregnancy and postnatal exercise, and together the team runs small group pilates, fitness and education courses in a wide variety of locations around Perth and Mandurah. She has also developed a pregnancy exercise DVD and a video series about post-birth recovery in the first 6 weeks.
What did you do before you become an entrepreneur?
I have worked as a physiotherapist in the field of Women’s Health and pilates for over a decade now, and my entrepreneur experience with starting FitRight has only been in the last 3 or 4 years.
I have spent the majority of my career in the private healthcare system in both Perth and London, as a physiotherapist on maternity wards, in outpatient clinics and in pilates studios. I spent a big chunk of this time completing my masters in Women’s Health & Continence.
I have always felt that private practice commission work suited me, rather than working a salary job in the public health system, as I’ve always thrived on the fact that the more work I do and effort I put in, the more financially rewarded I am. Starting my own business and growing something from scratch was very appealing. The fact that physio-led pregnancy and postnatal group exercise classes around Perth were few and far between, and that there was a definite niche to fill, was a bonus!
How have your family impacted your business/ work hours?
Before I had my son, I often worked 50 hour weeks. I liked feeling in-demand and busy, and enjoyed the financial rewards of that. My husband was often busy with his work too, and was always very supportive of the fact that I chose to work Saturdays and evenings to be more available for patients.
Since having Benji 18 months ago, my work hours have changed dramatically. People often asked me when he was a little baby ‘When do you think you will go back to work?’, and I never knew how to answer them. How do you explain that work never stops when you own a business? That I was answering emails, booking clients in and paying instructors from my hospital bed after a Caesarean? That I would finally get Benji to sleep in the carrier some days and then open up my laptop in the darkened nursery to keep working?
So although the admin side of the business never actually stopped, I returned to running FitRight exercise classes when Benji was only 3 months old. I did it from my living room with a select group of Mums with babies the same age as Benji, who I knew would understand if I had to wear him in the carrier while running a class, or give them an exercise and then run to the nursery to settle him (which I did have to do on more than one occasion!).
I gradually took on a few more classes per week, including some evening ones when Benji was more consistent with his bedtime routine, and returned to work seeing clients at Southcare Physiotherapy when Benji was 7 months old. I currently work on the 3 days a week that Benji is in daycare or with my Mum, and then also during every nap on the days that I do have Benji at home (the recent transition to one sleep per day is a killer, productivity-wise!).
What does your typical day look like?
Most work days involve dropping Benji at daycare by 8:30, running one or two morning Baby&Me or Toddler&Me exercise classes, and spending the afternoon at home doing administrative work. Or cooking, cleaning, or doing laundry! There’s a lot to be said for hiring an office space so that I’m not tempted to spend my precious work time on my toddler-wrecked house! I pick him up again at 4 and we have a few hours of play before his bedtime.
I try to prioritise evenings as quality time for my husband and I. It’s only Netflix, but it gives us a chance to have a laugh or a chat and debrief on the day. I usually squeeze another hour of admin into my evening before bed, but I’m trying hard to wean off this habit and read more books instead!
What’s your number one tip for those starting their own business?
Reflecting back, I’m happy with the way I budgeted. I spent the first couple of years being very frugal with advertising and marketing, and just let the business grow organically while I trained new instructors and trouble-shot any issues that came up along the way. In the last 6 months or so, I’ve finally felt ready to go from the mindset of a ‘small business’ to the mindset of a ‘not-so-small business’! I’ve recently hired a marketing consultant, I’m going to redo my website professionally and I’m going to increase my advertising budget significantly.
It may not work for every other business, but I think the tip of avoiding overspending in the early days worked for FitRight. I have seen other businesses invest lots of money at the beginning and then have to redo processes, sell equipment etc down the track when the realities of the business become apparent.
When starting your business, where did you invest most of your money?
I deliberately set FitRight up with a business model that involved minimal investments and overhead costs. Apart from fitballs, mats and resistance equipment for each new FitRight location, there were no set up costs at all. Contractors pay their own rent, and so the ongoing business expenses mainly involve contractor commission payments, which increase in line with the business revenue.
I am only just beginning to invest money properly in FitRight now, and it’s mainly in marketing. I am already seeing the benefits of this investment!