Julian Roach has every reason to be confident. A registered physiotherapist, he has treated more than 18,000 patients in England, Finland and Canada. He’s also an adjunct lecturer and clinical educator for the University of Toronto and served as a lead physiotherapist for the 2015 Pan Am Games. That’s just for starters.
He clearly knows his stuff, but when he launched PhysActiv Sports Medicine in 2016, he was smart enough to know what he didn’t know. “I was a new entrepreneur,” he says. “I knew how to manage a physiotherapy clinic, but I had no experience in running a business.”
A client happened to mention that he might find the Starter Company Plus program helpful, so he contacted the York Small Business Enterprise Centre (YSBEC), applied to the program and was accepted. Starter Company Plus provides funding, training sessions and other assistance to Ontario residents who want to launch or expand a business in the province. YSBEC administers the program through funding from the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
Going into the program, Roach had a firm grasp of his “target patients”: athletes aged 9 to 25, but particularly 13- to 18-year-olds who play rep sports (as opposed to recreational sports, which are less competitive). That group represents 70 percent of his clientele. “I aim for those individuals because they carry a lot of injuries that are not properly managed because they’re not properly understood,” says Roach, who specializes in musculoskeletal disorders.
The program helped him focus on ways of reaching these potential patients, including marketing to their parents and building strategic partnerships with sports organizations.
The advisors in the Starter Company Plus program helped him organize this key information into a business plan that includes a thorough description of his vision and goals, a marketing plan and financial projections. “The whole process of writing the business plan really made me think about what I was trying to do,” says Roach.
The practical exercise was both rigorous and rewarding. Roach would write a section of his plan, email it to his advisors and receive feedback within 24 hours. Then he’d consider their suggestions and send his revisions to them.
He also completed a template outlining his financial projections for two years. “That was invaluable,” he says. “There’s no way I could have built that from scratch for myself.”
In time, Roach and his new business partner, a certified strength and conditioning coach, hope to open their own sports medicine clinic and gym. Roach currently runs PhysActiv Sports Medicine out of two gyms, one in Richmond Hill, the other in Stouffville.
Since completing Starter Company Plus in 2017, Roach has bumped up his marketing and branding efforts. He qualified for $5,000 through the program and has ploughed most of these funds into logo design, a website and business cards.
But most significantly, the program helped him clarify his business model. “I’m now more confident in discussing my plans with bankers and investors,” he says.
You can learn more about PhysActiv Sports Medicine and continue following this local York Region success story at www.physactiv.com.
Sara Bedal is a marketing communications writer and editor in Aurora who helps businesses and organizations communicate more effectively. She can be reached at [email protected].