“I nearly fell off my chair when Stefan told me I got the loan. And as soon as I put the phone down, I burst into tears because I just couldn’t believe I was so fortunate to finally be able to afford such a life-changing, incredible piece of equipment.”
It was a truly priceless moment when Emma received the news from Stefan, our Investment Manager. We could clearly see how much the equipment meant to her, and how deeply she cared for her patients.
Emma Thomas, a twenty-five-year physiotherapist with a life-long dream of helping people suffering from nervous system issues regain confidence in their movement, founded her clinic, Neurobility, in 2018. Recently, she secured £20,000 funding from First Enterprise – Enterprise Loans to acquire a specialised machine for her patients’ treatment.
This article is based on the conversation we had with Emma upon her loan being approved.
Emma on a typical day of a physiotherapist, assisting one of her patients, Chris, in taking his first steps after his spinal injury, brain injury and peripheral nerve injuries following an accident.
I have been a physiotherapist for 25 years, with 23 years specialising in neurology.
In 2012, I started practicing privately, initially helping out colleagues in their clinics.
As time went by, I began taking on my own clients as a sole trader.
A year ago, I decided to push it forward, establishing Neurobility as a limited company. In that way, I would be able to help a lot more people out there who need this treatment so much.
Working in the NHS and witnessing the help it provides patients with movement difficulties, I have immense respect for the highly skilled clinicians in the NHS who are doing everything they can.
However, there are limitations to the resources they can allocate, especially in long-term stroke and neurological rehabilitation. Recovery and improvements can continue for many years, and this is where private practice can help fill the gap, even though it involves additional costs.
Being able to contribute more resources to the local community is truly amazing. It’s a way to enhance the overall support available.
It’s in my nature to always have a long-term plan – and this business has consistently reflected that characteristic.
During Covid times, we had to close for a while, but it gave me time to reflect on everything.
I thought about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and realised that it was now or never to establish a limited company, which I had always been dreaming of.
My children were entering their teenage years and began to gain more independence, allowing me extra time to dedicate to my business.
I would either push this business forward or continue along the same path as before.
And I chose to forge ahead.
I initially looked for grants, but they did not work for me. I decided to pursue a loan instead.
When it was necessary to purchase a specialised machine for my patients, I explored grants and other funding options in the first place. But it became evident that my age posed a barrier to accessing many startup resources, particularly those focused on technology and enterprise.
Just then, the Start Up Loan programme caught my attention. And it turned out to be a potential solution.
I was a bit anxious about the loan amount at first, but the paperwork reassured me. It outlined my financial capacity to afford the loan and clearly indicated the business’s earnings and my personal spending limits.
Having a clear repayment plan and alternative backup plans in place eased my concerns.
As the loan application process involved a thorough assessment of my finances, I trusted that they wouldn’t give me a loan they didn’t believe I could repay.
So, after all, the loan was indeed feasible.
I felt confident in moving forward.
Beyond a loan, it unlocked my business potential alongside my role as a physio.
Filling out the business plan and cash flow forecast was scary in the beginning.
But it actually turned out to be a valuable exercise, helping me think deeply about the business’s growth and financials.
I even decided to review and update them every year from now on. The documents have given me fantastic insights into the business.
It was Stefan, the Investment Manager at First Enterprise – Enterprise Loans, that made the process so much easier and less intimidating. He was incredibly supportive and kept me well-informed throughout. He made sure I filled everything out correctly and checked everything thoroughly.
Thanks to Stefan and the application process, I am now more confident with numbers and have realised the need to balance being a businesswoman and a physiotherapist.
Much as I love being a physiotherapist, I must also develop essential business skills if I want to grow Neurobility to the next stage.
The funding-backed machine means the world to my patients.
I nearly fell off my chair when Stefan told me I got the loan.
As soon as I put the phone down, I burst into tears because I just couldn’t believe I was so fortunate to finally be able to afford such a life-changing, incredible piece of equipment.
The machine is called the LifeGait. It’s like a structure on wheels with a harness that goes around the patient’s body, taking some of their weight off. This makes it easier for them to walk and prevents falls, giving them a greater sense of safety, which is particularly important for stroke patients.
On my current caseload, there are several patients who can benefit from it, and I expect it to be used daily. The plan is to train our physio assistants to use it, so it can be an add-on to their sessions and accommodate more people in need in the future.
My advice to entrepreneurs like me is “dream big, but know your numbers”.
If you have a dream and a passion, strive to pursue it.
But alongside that, knowing your numbers is critical in turning your dream business into reality.
As for me, understanding the financial aspect has really given me the springboard to grow my business.