Being A Female Entrepreneur & Acupuncturist Means You Never Stop Learning
My audience love stories of female entrepreneurs doing what they’re passionate about. Tell us about yourself and what you do.
I completed my training in Acupuncture in 2014 after a fantastically interesting but grueling 3 ½ year degree course at CICM (College of Integrated Chinese Medicine) in Reading. This gave me a good grounding in the basics but in the 6 years since qualifying my knowledge and understanding of this incredible medicine has grown and grown.
I shall always be a generalist as I think this is the best way to improve my skills plus I’m always fascinated to see what acupuncture can achieve, but also have areas of more specialized knowledge.
Last year I completed a diploma in Acupuncture for Gynaecology and Obstetrics. This has been invaluable in aiding my understanding when treating infertility (both male and female), menopause, PCOS, period problems and pregnancy issues. I have also had a lot of experience in dealing with anxiety and stress and I am a certified practitioner with Anxiety UK.
In detail, tell us how you got started as an Acupuncturist and how that journey has led you to where you are now.
Throughout my career, I have always been involved with people and public service. I was originally in HR with TFL and then London Electricity. After the birth of my second child, I concentrated on bringing up my children for several years, but by the time my youngest was 12 I was starting to think about what else I would like to do.
I realized that being involved with and helping people would give me the satisfaction I was looking for and decided to train as an alternative therapist. I considered several avenues but having had acupuncture for several years with great success and then also discovering a well-regarded acupuncture school in Reading the decision was easy. Since qualifying, I have had the privilege of treating a large number of people with wide-ranging conditions. The great thing about this job is that I never stop learning.
A lot of people would say that they are scared of acupuncture and don’t understand it. How would you explain acupuncture to them and what would you like to tell them, to ensure they understand the benefits?
The first question people who have not had acupuncture always ask me, is will it hurt? My answer is always that some points are more sensitive than others and some people are more sensitive than others. But it is nothing like pricking yourself with a dress-making pin or having blood taken. If it were that painful people simply wouldn’t do it. The needles I use are far thinner, the width of a horse’s hair being the usual saying.
The aim of Chinese Medicine is to re-balance the body. It is holistic medicine. If, for example, a woman comes to me with painful periods I will want to know what her cycle is like, how heavy her periods are, where and when she feels pain, etc. But I will also want to know whether she gets headaches, what her diet and sleep are like, whether she is anxious etc. All this information builds into a bigger picture. I will also look at her tongue, take her Chinese pulses, and feel along the channels in her body. I then use all this information to draw up a treatment plan for her.
From your experience, what are some key factors you’ve learned in running your own business?
Starting my business was very tough. I didn’t have a business background but I was fortunate in two ways. Firstly, I discovered a couple of business networking groups near me (I didn’t even know they existed before this). I met people who helped me in the early stages of setting up and running my business.
Secondly, at one of these meetings, I met someone who was able to put me in touch with a very well-regarded local clinic who were looking for an acupuncturist. I worked at this clinic for 5 years and it gave me the visibility that I needed. For anyone looking at setting up their own business, I would recommend local business networking groups. I have always found them to be very supportive, I have learned a lot and I have also gained clients through them.
As a female entrepreneur, you must be juggling many things at a time. What does your daily schedule look like as an Acupuncturist?
I now work from home and my daily schedule is highly variable. I currently still have one child (adult) living at home so there is the usual managing of the house to be done. I also make sure I exercise regularly and that we eat healthily. I work 3 ½ days per week, sometimes seeing my first patient at 8 am and my last patient at 8 pm. I try to be flexible on the days I work as many patients need to see me either before or after work, so it’s definitely not a 9–5 job.
What are some of the challenges you go through on a day-to-day basis, especially now with the current pandemic?
As with most hands-on therapies I have had to close during the current pandemic. I think when we open again things will definitely be different. I shall be spacing out my clients more so that there is less contact between them. I’m not sure whether I shall be wearing a mask and gloves, I shall wait to see what the advice is from my ruling body.
I keep in touch with my clients regularly via text or email. I have sent some of them dietary advice which may help them until they can resume treatment. With some of them, I have had chats on the phone. In the meantime, I am aiming to maintain my visibility via a newsletter and via FaceBook. Plus of course, Zoom meetings with networking groups have helped to maintain a sense of connection.
These days it’s even tougher to stand out from the crowd. What are you doing as a business owner to become more visible & attract more clients?
It is always a challenge to stand out from the crowd, especially as an acupuncturist in my area where we have quite a lot of alternative therapists. I have found business networking groups useful in meeting people, getting my message out there, and in that way attracting clients. I view my website as my calling card, so I make sure I keep it updated and I try to write regular blogs about issues that I think may interest people.
As with most therapists, I find that word-of-mouth can be a great way of attracting new clients and it is always very heartening when new people ring you and say they have been given your name by someone. As the years have gone by I find that is happening more and more.
What are your future plans for your business? Any exciting projects lined up?
I am always excited to get new patients to treat and my main expansion is in terms of my knowledge. I regularly attend courses and read papers. I attend a mentoring group once a month. My focus is always on improving my acupuncture skills.
Where do you see yourself 3 years from now?
Over the next 3 years, I would like to treat more fertility patients. Whilst it can be a roller-coaster ride and nothing can be guaranteed, when a woman gets pregnant because of my treatment, often after years of trying, nothing is more joyful or satisfying.
If there is one piece of advice you were asked to give to entrepreneurs venturing into this field as an Acupuncturist, what would that be?
For new acupuncturists, I would say get some business training. You can be the best acupuncturist in the area but if nobody knows you exist you will struggle. As you may have guessed my main advice would be to join local business networking groups, make contacts, and use the incredible range of knowledge that exists there.
Where can the audience find out more about you?
To find out more about me please visit my website: www.jackiegrahamacupuncture.com
Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/jackiegrahamacupuncture