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How I set up my own physiotherapy business

Katie Knapton is a chartered physiotherapist with over 25 years of musculoskeletal experience within the NHS and in her own private practice in West Sussex.

I decided at the early age of 13 years old that I wanted to be a physio… slightly sad but happily a decision I have never regretted. My alternative of a ballerina was squashed fairly early on by a lack of ability and talent!

I trained at Kings College Hospital and then worked at Guys rotating around the different specialities. People often assume we just do sports injuries, but physios are also involved in areas like neurology, respiratory, care of the elderly and cardiothoracic care. 

Read more: What it’s like to work as a physiotherapist

I then travelled to Australia and enjoyed working in Brisbane mainly treating patients in a private hydrotherapy pool.

On returning I worked at St Georges in London where I specialised in the musculoskeletal area where I stayed for nine years, eventually becoming an advanced practitioner in orthopaedic clinics and being involved in training physio staff and students. After leaving London I set up my own private practice in Sussex.

Opening my own physiotherapy business

PhysioFast Online (PFO) came out of my passion for people to be able to access accurate and evidence-based advice. On discussing it with a patient (who had run a successful business and had investor contacts) he got it and before I knew it, I was pitching to investors for an early fundraise to get going. 

The vision for PFO was to make quality physiotherapy advice, education and management accessible via a video appointment. Highlights have been setting a website up and the service being up and working!! Also how many people think it is a good idea; validation is essential!

Overcoming challenges

The main difficulties we have faced at that pre-Covid time is that there was a barrier to the thought of a physio consultation via a video having any sort of benefit or validity. Also, my knowledge of the business world was limited so this part has been a very steep learning curve. 

Initially, the plan was to offer the service to the NHS and direct to customers, but the barriers were a lot higher and harder than we initially thought. 

So, the focus had to change towards a more B2B (business to business) model. 

This meant a change in mindset and to begin the slow but steady networking to gather contacts to enter the business world. We are still not quite there but things are looking more positive.

Use your passion and drive

I had started becoming more focused on learning about leadership requirements and found individual coaching sessions run as part of the accelerator programme really useful to keep sight of the bigger picture. Simon Sinek and his book “Find Your Why” was great, plus “Emotional intelligence, why it can matter more” by Daniel Goleman was an insightful book and very useful. I also attended a leadership course which was really beneficial.

My advice for any budding entrepreneurs is that you need passion and drive and to genuinely believe in what you are doing, but also be realistic and grounded – a tricky mix. Often things will not go as you plan but picking yourself up and learning adds to the whole “journey”. I have learnt loads and met some amazing fellow entrepreneurs and certainly would never regret giving it a good go. I am pushing myself to do things that I would have thought were beyond my capabilities and skill set. I urge you to give it a go too.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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