Did you ever grow up knowing exactly what you wanted to be when you were older? Some of us knew right from the get-go while some of us needed a little more time to figure it out. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve pictured myself in almost every dream career possible- endlessly searching for the right fit. I would like to say that I have known exactly what I have wanted to do since I was five, but for me this wasn’t the case. Although I do not have a clear-cut plan, I do know I want to help people. I have always had a passion for health and wellness. Approaching the end of my undergraduate degree, the need to plan for a career is quickly approaching. Owning a practice in my future years is an aspiration of mine.
Clear-cut plan or not, I feel like we end up discovering new opportunities, finding interests in things we didn’t always know intrigued us. For me, I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to provide innovative service delivery in health care.
I have been lucky, and been able to work with and shadow a number of professionals who started their own business. Seeing them truly enjoy their career has been a future I have always wanted for myself. I want to do what I love and love what I do. The practices I have worked for thus far have been very successful. It is important to note that their success wasn’t instantaneous- in fact it took endless hours and years of dedication and hard work to build their success.
Seeing the work that goes on behind the scenes of a business is not something that everyone has the opportunity to see first hand- I am very lucky to have had this opportunity. My interest to start my own practice has driven me to start preparing early- accumulating the knowledge and insights I need to construct a successful business plan. Networking is key. The people you make connections with will help support you through your endeavors and will share their experiences to try and help you.
Networking can happen anywhere and at any time. I met a successful business couple a year ago that I would like to introduce you to- my boyfriend’s mum, Kimberly and her husband Gary. Getting to know this dynamic duo has been an absolute pleasure. With infectious personalities, Kimberly and Gary are very good at what they do. This power couple possesses traits that I aspire to have in my future years. What do they do?! They are the co-owners of Magnolia House Spa in Waterdown, Ontario.
This past weekend I was up at Kimberly and Gary’s cottage. Sitting on the dock sipping on coffee, Gary and Kimberly shared their story with me. Gary, the original founder of the spa put everything he had on the line to bring his vision for the spa into fruition in 2003. Gary wanted to open a business that delivered unique services with the ultimate goal to make people feel their best. With careful attention to detail, Gary was able to coach his team to exceptional customer service delivery- unlike any other spa I have ever been to. This attention to detail, is what Gary feel sets the Magnolia House Spa apart from the competition. I agree with this whole heatedly- it is the details that make an experience extraordinary.
I was interested to see what an owner’s typical day at the office looked like. Gary’s day normally consists of paperwork. That’s right… lots and lots of paper work. Owner’s are responsible for almost, if not all, the behind the scene tasks and responsibilities. In fact, Gary said he relies on his team to be the face of the business.
Kimberly explained that motivating a team to contribute their best efforts, coaching a team to value the work they do, and providing attainable goals for staff to reach are all apart of an owners daily responsibilities. Speaking from experience, Kimberly and Gary emphasized the importance to not underestimate the effort that the owners put into their business. They spoke about the struggles that owners face on a daily basis. I will spare us the details of this list, but it sure was a lot longer than I ever thought!
After trying to fathom the amount of risks owners need to take to be successful, it was clear to me how challenging owning a business could be. I am not much of a risk taker myself, so I know this is something I will have to work on.
With my past experience as well as hearing Kimberly and Gary’s story, I started to notice that many owners are challenged when it comes to separating their work from their daily lives. Kimberly said that it is imperative to check in and make sure that “you are running the business and that the business isn’t running you.”
It was insightful speaking with Gary and Kimberly as they explained how being owners of a business comes with its unique challenges. They were honest and explained that owning a business is not always as luxurious as people anticipate it to be. You have to be willing to make sacrifices for the perks.
Gary and Kimberly were excited to share the perks of being entrepreneurs. Gary shared that since their first opening day 14 years ago, a number of the original staff and clients are still with them today. This is uncommon in this industry and Gary feels it speaks volume of their business etiquette. Kimberly explained further that loyalty from staff and clients develops from good communication, treating people with respect, and transparency.
Gary and Kimberly devote a number of hours on a regular basis connecting with and mentoring their staff. They invest in their employees. Kimberly feels that it is important to take the time to find the employees’ different strengths and find them the role that is best suited for them. This makes for a successful team.
My favourite point that Gary and Kimberly highlighted was the importance of owners to lead by example. They explained that their success has come from holding themselves accountable to the same expectations that they hold their staff to. Kimberly said that staff members respect owners and management when they are held to equal standards. I am sure that any of you that have worked for a business (of any size) can agree with this!
I am so grateful for the insights Kimberly and Gary were able to give me. Their honesty has made me aware of the challenges I may face in the future. These challenges are intimidating but it is comforting to see that these challenges were not able to defeat these entrepreneurs.
I smiled when Gary shared, “it is gratifying to make something out of nothing.” What an amazing feeling that must be. Gary was able to transform an idea into a successful business with loyal clients and hard-working staff. Gary is a living example that to become a prosperous entrepreneur, you must possess patience and resiliency.
Kimberly and Gary are dedicated to improving the spa wherever they can. Gary says he sees that the spa could be more involved in the community. He would like to improve that spa’s charitable work. Gary and Kimberly shared some touching stories of past fundraisers that were held by the spa. Kimberly described the connection with clients as the most rewarding part of her job. She is constantly amazed to see that clients reciprocate the support that the spa staff provides to them. Something that isn’t common in the service industry.
Gary was able to make his dream his everyday life. With great resiliency and devotion, Kimberly and Gary have been able to create a lifestyle that many of us dream to have. I respect them both immensely after seeing just a snapshot of the work it takes to get to where they are. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I am comforted knowing that with hard work and a clear vision, starting a business is possible.
Thank you Kimberly and Gary for sharing your knowledge and advice. Seeing your success is inspiring not only to me but to other future entrepreneurs. Thank you for leading by example- the Magnolia House Spa is a business I will always support, as I know your workers are treated with the upmost respect. Congratulations on the 14th year anniversary of Magnolia House Spa- I cannot wait for my next treatment!
Stay kind always,