In this months ‘All About the Brand’ article we feature a great small business with big ambitions to ‘make a difference’ by helping clients achieve their goals. Tom Elsom, owner of Lifestyle Therapies started his business almost 2 years ago in December 2014 with the ambition of making a change in his own small way and to enhance whatever he could in his own small universe!
A big ambition you may think, but if we all applied the same principles then surely those changes would have a big impact?
Tom has worked in a variety of different fields; ranging from retail, and car insurance sales; to working with people with severe learning difficulties (i.e. “adults at risk”) and personal training. “I have an all or nothing approach when it comes to hobbies; I’d probably class myself as an adrenaline junkie” he comments. His current interests include rock climbing, mountain biking, surfing, wake boarding and yoga and he’s made it his mission to see as many parts of the world as he can.
Making a Change
Living and working in South East London, Tom’s ambition he feels is subjective; “rather than making a lot of money (as lovely as that would be), my hunger has always been rooted in a desire to do what I can to make a change in the world. Naturally, this idea was very abstract and had yet to take corporeal form in any practical sense, and so my launch pad in my quest to realise my ambitions manifested in seeking jobs that involved helping other people to achieve their goals. This allowed me to feel like I was making a difference, one person at a time.”
Nonetheless, he eventually felt like he had reached a plateau and having been at his previous job for some time, like many entrepreneurs, he felt that he was existing rather than living. Then one day something clicked and he asked himself three questions. “Is this getting me to where I want to be? Do I feel I’m making a difference in the world? Does this job inspire and drive me to be the best I can be?”
In that moment, he realised that his job wasn’t satisfying all of his needs and was acting as a veritable obstacle in his planned career trajectory. “This was the point in which I started to consider starting my own business. I needed to be the master of my own fate, and being a cog in a larger machine was not conducive to realising my ambitions. I source inspiration from leaping into the void, in taking chances and having faith.”
Fulfilling the Ambition
Lifestyle Therapies services fall within the Sports and Rehabilitation industry and the biggest competitors locally are Pulse Sports Therapy Services and Dulwich Therapy Rooms. As with many service businesses, his USP (Unique Selling Point) is the standard of service that he provides and the combination of exercises that he offers to complement and enhance his treatments.
“My core customer base are clients who have a sports background and, although this is a blessing, in some ways it’s also one of the biggest challenges I face in that there is a far reaching fallacy that sports massage therapy is solely for sports people. The “sports” part of the title is rather misleading; my treatments are tailored to the individual, whether they partake in ultra-marathons or live a decidedly sedentary lifestyle.”
Tom is currently a sole trader in his business, but his plans as his business grows and client base increases will see him seeking employees to support the workload. “Ultimately I want to expand my business internationally. My founding goal was to start small and build a steady client base comprising those who lead an active lifestyle. I strove to introduce the best and safest way to exercise and prevent injuries in their chosen sport.”
Building the Business and the Brand
In terms of business promotion, he’s used a variety of channels to build brand awareness and get his message out, including; Yell, Yelp, Zesty, Listed In, Add People, Treatwell, Hotfrog, Cyrex, Free Ads, and Friday Ad, alongside several social media platforms.
He’s also made use of advertisements in magazines and newspapers. However, most of these have been little to no help, apart from Treatwell, which is popular within his industry. “The most useful resource I have found to date has been Google, with Google Maps in particular as it lists his business as being local and top rated. I believe that awareness of my services can be attributed mostly to two mediums; word of mouth and Google. ” Tom commented.
“From what I can see, I believe that my business is steadily improving. Areas that perhaps need work include making use of advertising in a more efficient way and, in conjunction with this, a better understanding of how marketing works. In this day and age, we have much more immediate ways of disseminating and receiving information at our fingertips. The key is in knowing how to use these modes of communication in the cheapest yet most effective way, a skill I still need to finesse.”
Attracting customers has always been the biggest challenge for Tom and building a client base is difficult when customers have no frame of reference of the quality of the services being provided. “They are taking a chance on me, and I have to prove to them that they made the best choice in placing their confidence in me, so they will return and use my services again.”
As an unknown quantity, Tom relies on people responding to his advertisements and also providing reviews and extolling the virtues of the treatment they received to others to build up referrals. However, although this can be a slow process initially, ultimately if you find your niche, there should be a demand for what you are supplying.
“As much as I know my business has developed a lot slower than what I originally anticipated and I expected growth to occur far more expeditiously, especially with the lack competition in my area, I also know that it’s important to take into account the amount of disposable income available on average in your target area, as well as gauging whether there is in fact demand for your services. For example, in my industry I would be targeting an area with a sizeable health conscious demographic that I can tap into.”
Focusing on the Future
The future plans for the business include diversifying the business into other areas of the health and fitness industry, as well as investing in future innovations and technology in fitness.
“The best thing about having my own business is I get to treat my clients in the manner that I see fit. I set my own hours. I have the potential to make a difference in the world. I feel challenged. I am able to work towards my own goals rather than fulfilling someone else’s. I get to work within a field I am passionate about, and I get to cultivate a positive network around me on my own terms. I am not working for some nameless faceless conglomerate, dedicating years of my life to making the rich richer. I am dedicating my life to something that matters to me and more importantly, to my clients.”
Lifestyle Therapies is in a great position to grow nationally and internationally by defining the brand; focusing on creating a business that can be replicated easily; as well as building on the bespoke services and individual consultancy currently provided.
Tom’s passion and vision for his business will stand him in good stead as he moves forward with the development of Lifestyle Therapies, and we feel, that with the right support in those areas, this will definitely help him achieve his ambition of making a change in sports therapy…as well as in his own small universe!
To find out more contact Tom at www.lifestyle-therapies.co.uk