How Emma Jack Grew Her Business from an Instagram Side Project into a Brick-and-Mortar Business
Emma Jack is a sport and orthopedic physiotherapist and clinical pilates instructor, and owner of Press Play Physiotherapy & Pilates based in London, Ontario, Canada. She’s passionate about helping her clients feel their best and have fun doing it.
Emma recently sat down with Destin from the Jane Community Team to chat about her journey from working at a large multidisciplinary clinic to launching her own practice to embracing the COVID changes by helping hundreds of women in healthcare through her coaching and mastermind workshops.
Can you tell us a little bit about your practice?
Oh, yes. Buckle up - it’s been quite a journey! I started my career working in a large sports medicine clinic and was so excited to have landed my dream job straight out of university. I felt set. But despite having so many great experiences along that journey, there was always something inside of me saying, mmm this isn’t it.
I spent a couple of years thinking that maybe it would be it if it was another clinic or another city or another location. I spent a long time doing additional courses, getting credentials, going to workshops and thinking, oh, if I just get this one other thing, then my practice will feel better, or if I knew more about that, this would feel better.
💜 Eventually, I realized that what it was, was that I had a pretty strong view of how I wanted to operate and how I wanted my personal practice to look. Nobody else could create that for me.
Initially, and this is probably the most millennial story ever, my brick and mortar space started as an Instagram account. After spending the first 5 years of my career getting every single credential and letter after my name thinking it would make me feel more confident and less anxious I knew I needed to try something else. So I started a blog, and it was called Press Play. Along with that, I created an Instagram account, because back in 2016, if you wanted to promote your blog, you did that via Instagram.
What ended up happening was people started to get to know who I was within the community and saw me showing up on Instagram. So they would call the clinic specifically asking to see me. That kept happening and happening and happening. And eventually, it got to the point where my schedule was busting at the seams. I started to think maybe I’m on to something here. People are calling the clinic wanting to see me. What if I just had my own space, and they could call me and book in with me directly?
About a year and a half after I started my Instagram account, it became a brick and mortar business that is now Press Play Physiotherapy & Pilates!
What inspired the name Press Play?
The name Press Play was inspired by my own journey. I was in grind mode for a very long time, which served a purpose in my life and had its place. However, when I finished my second master’s degree, I felt some anxiety and didn’t feel good at my job. I just knew I needed some time away. I took six weeks off, and I went to Scandinavia. I went all by myself, and I just had so much fun. I hiked, I biked, I went to an amusement park all by myself. I did all of these great things on my own, and I realized just how good that felt in my body. I hadn’t had fun like that in a really long time.
When I came back from that vacation, I started to think about doing a blog or just something different and fun. I also started to see my same story reflected in my clients. I saw that they were coming in with chronic headaches or chronic low back pain, or they were just feeling so heavy. And they also weren’t having fun.
💜 My big themes became, how can we make rehab fun? How can we make this a little bit more fun and a bit less medical?
And sometimes I still need to remind myself - hey, what if this was fun and easy? Remind myself to take a different perspective and ask, how can I make this more fun? And then also for my clientele, keeping top of mind that notion that of how to make this fun. If we have to do rehab, let’s make it great!
As a small business owner, what have been some of the successes and challenges you have faced?
I think the most significant success to me is stepping back and seeing the community I’ve built. Rehab can feel like a very one-on-one experience. To counter that, I’ve tried to create a community through workshops, classes, and obviously, Instagram. Seeing people make real connections in the community has been amazing. And how my community showed up for me, and my practice during COVID has been incredible. I felt so supported as a small business owner who had many unknowns in front of her. I quickly realized that the community I built and the people in it will show up for me, and I’m going to show up for them. That’s definitely what I’m most proud of.
A challenge has been thinking about what I want this all to look like long term and letting that idea flex and being okay with that. What my vision was for this back in 2017 is so different from what it is now. I’ve had to learn not to be super attached to the idea that my practice and my business is supposed to look a certain way or that my career is supposed to go in a particular direction.
💜 It’s been a challenge, but a good one, learning to not have an attachment to any of that and to own and be comfortable with allowing myself to do some things a little bit differently.
What are some of your learnings and takeaways from working in both a large clinic and as a clinic owner?
When I look back on my time in the bigger clinic setting, some of the things that I still miss are things like that sense of camaraderie, having teammates, and quickly asking questions and collaborating. Not to say I don’t do that anymore; I still have former colleagues and friends in a WhatsApp group but just being in that team atmosphere is something I miss.
Ultimately, what wasn’t working for me was the model. We were booked every 15 minutes. Because of that, there was a heavy reliance on PTAs and Kins and students. As a result, some of the things that really I loved to do the most had to be passed off to somebody else. I just didn’t feel like I was connecting with my clients as much as I could. I felt some barriers and limitations regarding practicing exactly how I wanted to especially in relation to my personal working philosophy.
💜 I’m not just a physiotherapist. As a business owner, I wear so many different hats now. I still get to learn and be creative, which I love, but it’s in a different way.
Obviously, there is more stability working in a clinic versus being a clinic owner. I was able to roll into work, do my job and then go home, and that was the end of my day. Now, as a clinic owner, my brain always has to be a little bit at work. I’m the admin, accountant, bookkeeper, HR, marketing - I’m everything! I’ve learned so much about things that are outside the scope of physiotherapy. I didn’t think I was signing up to learn these things, but I actually love it.
You went from being a physiotherapist as part of a team to now being a business owner. How did you find that transition?
I had to relinquish the idea that I knew what I was doing! I had to ask for help. Which, as somebody who loves to be of service to others and to give give give, having to ask for help was hard for me. But I knew it was essential.
I wasn’t going to get anywhere if I didn’t form the right team around me. Entrepreneurship is an evolving journey. I didn’t even call myself a business owner for a long time. I would almost downplay what I was doing, saying things like, oh, yeah, I have my own little practice. I wouldn’t talk myself up the way I maybe should have. So I’m definitely learning to step more into that role of CEO.
It’s been a process. Staying humble and understanding that you can’t know it all. And that you don’t need to know it all; you just need to know the person who does! I have such a fantastic team of people who I can call and ask questions or get advice from. I know that I might not always have the answer, but somebody in my circle will.
Social media played a huge part in launching your business. Now, almost 2 years in, how has that changed?
At this point, I’m very, very fortunate; I work just on word of mouth. I’m at capacity, which is fantastic, and I will never take that for granted. So I know if I’m doing a good job, if I’m showing up at my best, and my clients are satisfied, I can pump the brakes a little bit in terms of selling that side on social media.
What I feel really called and compelled to do now is to help other female clinicians and entrepreneurs take that leap and find their own success.
When I was trying to figure out what was missing and what I needed to eventually launch my own business, I was really overwhelmed and in my own head. I was so good at telling myself all the reasons it wouldn’t work without allowing myself to dance in the possibility of success. It was all my mindset. Having worked through it myself with coaches, mentors and guides I have such a passion for helping others bust through their limiting beliefs so that they can live out their dreams now too!
Another reason I was wanting to start my own practice was so I could protect my energy. Some of the messaging I saw out there for coaching and mentorship for clinicians was all about hustle, hustle, hustle, grind, grind, grind, 10x, open multiple locations! That just did not resonate with me. What I wanted was my own small space and to work 22 hours a week. That would feel great!
Now I use my social channels to help other women in healthcare over that bridge and help them achieve it faster while having more fun and with less fear.
Work-life balance is so important, and you often post about it on your Instagram. What do you share in your coaching work around that topic?
I like to talk about the concept of wobbly balance. Wobbly balance is the fact that I can stand on one leg, and it will look like I’m balancing. But what you don’t see is that my foot is working really, really hard to keep me balanced. I’m still balanced, but my foot is going all over the place.
That’s the analogy I like to use because your foot - like your life - will never be perfectly still. Things are always flexing and shifting and you have to learn to embrace that.
But sometimes you have to let something go and make something else a priority. The other concept I like to use is this analogy of glass balls and rubber balls. Glass balls are super important to me and things that I value the most. My family, my own health, my own energy those are the glass balls that I’m not going to let drop. The other stuff is a rubber ball. If I let it drop for a day or two or three it’s going to bounce back up.
How has COVID impacted you and your business?
I decided to close before most places and when I made the announcement that we were closing I already knew virtual appointments were the way to go. I had done it before, and I knew its value. I’m not going to pretend we had 100% conversion rate of patients moving to virtual, but for the people that did, it was super effective.
I have people that have chosen to stay virtual despite in person becoming available again. We have a least five or six virtual appointments a week, and I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. Some people are so worried about COVID, or the resurgence of COVID. But other people prefer the virtual option for the convenience. They love not having to drive to the clinic or the fact that they can hop on their computer or phone at the appointment time and not have to build a buffer around it in their day. I’ve also had people switch to a virtual appointment the day of their appointment when something has come up rather than cancelling or rescheduling.
💜 I love the flexibility of virtual appointments and so do my clients.
One of the big positives to come out of COVID for me was that back in February I said out loud that I would really love it if I could get to the point where my coaching business and working with other clinicians was 50/50 with my practice. I said this obviously having no idea COVID was about to arrive. Once COVID did hit, I realized that this was my chance to step up and make that a reality and help other women in healthcare especially during this difficult and uncertain time.
The first round, I had 76 women in that group for five weeks and it was incredible. We had so much fun. It was one of those things that brought connection during a time where we felt so disconnected and alone. COVID really allowed me to lean into that so much and grow my coaching business and help so many other women in healthcare much faster than I would have been able to otherwise.
I definitely am leaning into coaching because I can see how my impact will be that much more significant. I can do what I’m doing in my clinic on a very grassroots, one-on-one level and help my clients have a positive healthcare experience. But, if I can connect with and impact more clinicians and get them doing the work they love and that fills them up or lead them to fulfillment, that has a much more significant impact. The coaching and mastermind side of my business definitely lights me up.
You shared this quote on Instagram. Can you tell us why it resonates with you?
I LOVE THIS QUOTE so much! I saw it in my mom’s Oprah magazine probably 20 years ago and have never forgotten that wisdom. I’m continually asking myself how I can make things more delightful.
Small things have a massive impact. You can make charting a lovely experience by adding some fun music, a yummy latte and a diffuser.
Something else I also ask myself is, what if this were fun and easy? This totally helps flip my perspective on specific tasks and reminds me of the mindset I want to approach life with. Life is fun and easy when you let it be!
Lastly, can you tell us a bit about your experience with Jane?
I like to joke that Jane has literally been employee of the month in my business every month!
For me, there was no other software out there that was going to allow me to operate the way I wanted to. I wanted to operate by myself without admin staff and Jane has allowed me to do that and to focus on what I do best and have all of the stuff basically just run on its own.
I remember looking into Jane and hopping on a call with somebody on your Support Team and basically falling in love right then and there and not even trying to find anything else! It just did everything I wanted it to. And once it’s all set up it just runs your business behind the scenes for you.
There are so many features I love. I don’t even know where to start. One that I love so much is Shift+P. Working in a small space, people are constantly looking over your shoulder so finding that keyboard shortcut for screen privacy was huge for me. I no longer have to use my hands to cover up parts of the screen when trying to book the next appointment for a client!
The other thing I really love is the customer service and non-salesy aspect of Jane because it aligns so much with my own business philosophy. I feel like my work should speak for itself and I think Jane is the same way.
A peek inside Press Play Physiotherapy & Pilates
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