Aileen Carroll is a reflexologist and reiki practitioner who set up the practice Willow Lane Holistic two years ago, as a side project to her day job as an Executive Assistant.
She talks to The Daily Slog about finally finding the courage to turn a dream into a reality and what it takes to build a business whilst balancing a full time career.
Tell us how the idea for Willow Lane Holistic came about – and how you took the first leap to get it up and running?
I’ve worked in a demanding corporate environment for most of my career and I could see firsthand the effects of stress, both on myself and on my work colleagues. I became interested in holistic therapies as a way to help manage my own stress initially. I was fascinated at how effective these therapies were, so I decided to train to become a holistic therapist.
I attended classes at night and at weekends, it was full on but when you love what you are studying it is half the battle!
Once I had completed my studies I started treating family and friends at home in my spare room before taking on my first clients. As soon as I felt I had gained enough experience I decided to bite the bullet and set up Willow Lane Holistic.
Setting up the Willow Lane Holistic Facebook page and website were my starting points. Something as simple as setting up the Facebook page really set the ball rolling. It quickly felt very real, as I was putting something tangible for Willow Lane out into the world.
How did you fund the initial launch?
To be honest it didn’t actually cost too much, there was a lot of bartering involved! I have some friends working in marketing, so I traded holistic treatments for help with setting up my website and various social media accounts. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you exchange skills.
Any revenue generated from clients went towards supplies and business set up costs.
The blog proved to be a cost effective way to promote the business without having to fork out to advertise on social media
How did you build a client list – was it largely through word of mouth or did you use paid advertising or social platforms to build awareness?
Before officially setting up Willow Lane Holistic I had already cultivated a small client base through word of mouth so to help expand on that I rented a treatment room at a busy holistic centre. The centre had a well established website and engaged social media following which allowed me to promote my services to a wider audience and attract new clients.
To boost my online presence further I started a blog called “Wednesday Wellness with Willow Lane”. The blog proved to be a cost effective way to promote the business without having to fork out to advertise on social media.
How do you manage the demands of a full time job with running your own business?
Learn to say no! You can’t do everything and some things have to be put on the back burner while you work towards your business goals. Many a night out was missed as Willow Lane work had to be done in my spare time after work.
I had to become more focused on using my time efficiently and always set aside specific times for Willow Lane work. It’s all possible if you become clever with your time.
The most important thing for me was self care to make sure I didn’t burn out. I definitely have to practice what I preach in that regard and make efforts to eat well, take time for yoga, meditation and of course holistic therapies. It’s all vital to ensure I have the energy reserves needed to keep up with a busy day job and my new business venture.
I have had to become more focused on using my time efficiently and always set aside specific times for Willow Lane work. A lot of my spare time is spent writing articles for the blog, and social media posts are done on my bus journeys to and from work. It’s all possible if you become clever with your time.
What has been the best piece of advice that you have received along the way?
One piece of advice that really sticks out for me was when I was having second thoughts about setting up the business: I didn’t feel ready or qualified enough. A friend said to me – there are people out there doing what you are doing with less experience.
That really hit home and gave me the nudge I needed to get moving.
Give yourself time to recharge – it’s very easy to get carried away and work around the clock when working from home
What advice would you offer to others looking to start a business from their home?
To ensure you have boundaries between your business and your home life. Have a room in the house set aside for your business.
Give yourself time to recharge – it’s very easy to get carried away and work around the clock when working from home. I always take Sundays off, you need down time!
There is never the perfect time to start and if you over think things you will always feel like you are not ready or qualified enough. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, have confidence in your own abilities and go for it!
Visit Willow Lane Holistic on Facebook