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Inspiring mum's in business

Interview with Emily Hayles from Move Play Paediatric Therapy

My name is Emily Hayles. I am a Mum of two small children aged 23 months and 4 years old. I am also a physiotherapist who runs a small business called Move and Play Paediatric Therapy. We are a children's therapy service that helps children with developmental delays and disabilities to move and play as freely as possible, and empowers their parents to know that they are doing the best they can for their child.

1. What is your why? What motivated you to get into business? I started in business a year after having my first child. For the 10 years prior to having my first child, I had worked as a senior level physiotherapist in the field of paediatrics. I really loved working with children and helping them with their development or their health and well-being, and supporting parents and families to do the best they can for their children. After my maternity leave I had originally wanted to return to working in my old job; but unfortunately my workplace would not accommodate my return to work part time in my previous role in paediatrics, which left me feeling pretty undervalued and demoralised. However, I loved being a paeds physio and I knew I was good at my job. I also knew the clients and families and local community very well, and I knew that I had a lot of knowledge and skills to I thought I would try my hand at working privately for myself. Back then when I started, my ‘why’ was that I wanted to continue in my profession, doing what I loved, as well as to have the time and flexibility to be able to look after my young family. But as the business has grown, and as my team and I are able to have a bigger impact on our community, my ‘why’ has grown. Personally, one aspect of my ‘why’ continues to be my kids - I want to have time available that I can spend with my kids while they are young. But professionally, my ‘why’ is because I believe that all children, regardless of their disabilities and differences, have value and something to offer. I want to create a service, and a community, that allows children to realise that value, and achieve their best.

2. What are some of the challenges/obstacles you have had to overcome? Where do I start?! I had pretty much no business experience when I started, so I definitely had a lot to learn!!!

Early on, some of the obstacles were learning to understand that what I had to offer was valuable, and to not be afraid to charge money for it! I had worked in the public service for my whole career prior to then, so no one had ever handed money over for my services. Being confident about that value took some time. Some obstacles or challenges as the business has grown has been learning to understand the financial side of the business, learning to be confident in myself as a leader using my natural personality and leadership style, and learning to delegate.

In my field of work, another big challenge has been the challenge of the introduction of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), and trying to constantly adapt to the changes within the scheme, and also to work within the restrictions and rules of the scheme. As a health professional who just wanted to help children and families, coming up against red tape that limits how you can help families can be quite professionally challenging and fatiguing.

3. What did you worry about most when you started your business? Early on, I definitely worried that it would not work. I was worried that I was putting in all this unpaid effort in the early days, which would not pay off in the end and that the business would fail (clearly I doubted myself a lot!).

But the main thing I have consistently worried about since the beginning is not being able to get ‘the balance’ right. Trying to make sure there is enough financial reward personally for me for the hours I do put in, but then also making sure the business is giving me the time and freedom to be available for my family.

4. How do you find the juggle of kids and a business? It is definitely tricky. It is something I try and manage as much as possible. I try to focus on work when I am there or on my work days and then turn off and be present and engaged with my kids when I am with them. Running a children's therapy service has also been interesting as a Mum - my children have sometimes had to come along to the clinic. I love that the team I have grown and the service I have built is child friendly because my beautiful staff and the amazing families we work with have been accommodating. I also love that my children are learning to accept and embrace children from all walks of life, and value them as someone they can respect and be friends with.

5. How do you prioritise/block out work time when working from home? My kids are in Daycare or Kindy 3 days per week, so I work 3 days per week. I try and make sure one of those days per week is a day I spend at home working on improving and developing the business (working ‘on’ the business). The other 2 days I head into the clinic to provide mentoring and training to my staff, and help out with clients.

On that day at home, to try and be as productive as possible, I have a few strategies. I always write a to do list the day before, and then pick out the tasks that require the most concentration but will provide the biggest impact on the business and try and tackle them first. This helps me to concentrate on getting these tasks done when I am at my freshest.

6. What has been a game changer for you in your business? Understanding my personal values. This has been, by far, the biggest game changer for me personally in business. About 18 months ago I was feeling very stretched, stressed, and unclear about my business. The business was doing well, revenue was ok, and I had great staff; but I personally was feeling unsettled about the amount of time I was putting into the business. Some of this comes about for me because I always like to help people, which means I end up saying ‘yes’ too often, and ‘biting off more than I can chew’. It left me feeling conflicted - the whole reason I started the business was to give me the flexibility to look after my kids; but I felt like far too much of my time that I was supposed to be spending with my kids was being taken up by me having to work in the business. At the time I was doing a business leader course, and one of the activities we had to do was to examine our personal values. The course facilitator explained that by understanding our own values, we could make sure we were making decisions in business that were in line with our personal values. When I did the activity, my family came up as my most important value. Even though I already kind of new this, doing the activity really brought home the importance of always considering the impact of my business decisions on the time I had available for my family. As a result, I now am clear that time with my family is the most important thing in my life,

7. What do you think is the biggest barrier most ambitious mums face? I think we doubt ourselves too much. All the hard working and ambitious Mums I have ever met have pretty high expectations of themselves, which can lead to a bit of perfectionism, and this has definitely been a barrier that I have had to learn (and am still learning) to cope with. I worry that people might not like what we have to offer, they might not care about what we have to offer, that they won’t value it, etc, etc – and that doubt often results in me delaying just getting out there, having a go, and making a difference.

8. What tips do you have for other mums wanting to start a business?

· Understand why you want to start a business.

· Understand what your personal values are, and think about how those personal values can align with your business values.

· Your time is valuable, so learn to protect it and value it – your kids are only going to be little once, and the spending time working on the business is the most vital thing you can do for the business.

· Spend time and money on your own personal development. See a life coach, a psychologist, a business coach, whatever – but any opportunity for you to grow personally is going to pay off in your business.

· And find yourself some excellent mentors or business coaches, meet and network with fellow business owners, and surround yourself with family and friends who are going to support you in this journey.


Terri Watson