Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Margaret Gear, owner of Yasp Physiotherapy Clinic in Scalloway, Shetland.
How and why did you start in business?
I was an NHS physiotherapist for 35 years, specialising in neurological conditions.
After involvement in leading two UK-wide research studies on exercise for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), I developed evidence-based exercise programmes for a variety of conditions.
When I retired from the NHS some of my ex-patients asked me to consider setting up a private physiotherapy clinic, so I suppose I started my business in order to meet their needs.
I fervently believe in the NHS, so I designed Yasp to work collaboratively with it, not to compete with it.
Yasp is a Shetland word meaning full of energy and wellbeing – it fits the bill perfectly.
How did you get to where you are today?
Yasp opened for business less than two years ago, in November 2017.
I employ three part-time staff who share my principles and have complementary skills to my own. We were delighted to negotiate agreements with charitable organisations.
Three-quarters of our customers now have charitable funding, while the rest are self-funded.
We developed six exercise classes that we run weekly for conditions like MS and osteoporosis, and have extended our one-to-one physiotherapy service to include new areas like acupuncture for migraine.
Who helped you?
Having worked in the NHS my entire life, the world of business was alien to me. But help is at hand for people in this position and I attended some excellent, free courses run by Business Gateway.
My husband Jim advised me to join the Federation of Small Businesses and with its advice I started to piece together my plan for Yasp.
I found the ideal premises at Scalloway Youth and Community Centre and was inspired by its chairwoman, Sonia Inkster, who taught me a lot about building active communities.
What has been your biggest mistake?
When I started out I was anxious about whether the business would work at all and looking back now I can see that wasting energy fretting was my biggest mistake.
What is your greatest achievement?
In April 2018 we piloted an exercise class for people with Parkinson’s, a progressive disease that slows movement
After three months every participant could stand up, walk and turn around more quickly; some had almost doubled their speed.
They also reported improvements in everyday things like brushing their teeth and writing, along with reduced symptoms like tremor and stiffness.
I had never before seen improvements like that in people with Parkinson’s.
If you were in power in government, what would you change?
I would restore the welfare state.
What do you still hope to achieve?
We would like to provide evidence-based exercise classes for people with arthritis.
What do you do to relax?
I walk in the Shetland countryside with my husband. I’m really lucky in having lots of friends and family around who provide cheery company during the long dark Shetland winters.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on the TV?
I was struck dumb by the film Capernaum.
What do you waste your money on?
I’m fairly frugal at home but at work I like to have high-quality equipment that I feel I can rely on 100%. Some people might consider that a waste.
How would your friends describe you?
One described me as Attila the Honey.
What would your enemies say about you?
I guess they might omit the word “honey”.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I drive a Ford Ka. I dream of having more time to cycle to work.