Helping seniors stay mobile, safe and happy is the simple purpose of The Physio Co, the business that physiotherapist turned entrepreneur Tristan White has founded. He considers himself an accidental entrepreneur because the initial reason he created his business was to provide himself with a job that he would enjoy. Also, during his youth he never expected himself to fall in love with aged care, which The Physio Co has been serving since 2004. Nonetheless, the business has flourished to what it has become now.
At 24 years old, Tristan had set his mind to a career path that would lead to the glamorous world of sports medicine, working with elite athletes. But when he began his practice as a sports physiotherapist, he found himself falling out of love from what he originally intended to do.
For a year, he worked in nursing homes until there was more work to do than he could handle. He started employing the first of his team members, which became the birth of The Physio Co. Now, despite his many years of experience as an entrepreneur, Tristan says that he doesn’t have all the answer.
“I always need to continue to learn, reflect, challenge myself, and respond to that. The way to grow, whether you're an athlete or an entrepreneur or many other things, is to place yourself first under a certain level of stress. Then you have to rest and have a period of recovery or decompression or reflection. Only when you get the period of stress or challenge, followed by a period of rest and reflection, will you get the growth in yourself. Then you can apply that to your business. Repeating that over and over again creates growth,” he explained.
Facing challenges or stress
The challenge Tristan has experienced since the beginning of The Physio Co up to its 15th year is finding enough adept people to work in their business to deliver the services to their elderly clients.
“We've got more work than we've got people to deliver the services. But I think the biggest challenge was at about the fifth year of our business. I'd grown my business from an idea to a team of about 20 people. But I didn't have any real purpose or vision for the business, with very few systems in place to support the 20-person team. From the outside, it might look like a growing practice, but from the inside and my view, it looked like a big mess. I was challenged by whether I was the right person to lead and grow this business or not. So, I went looking for a solution,” he described.
Resting and reflecting on the next move
When he was going through that biggest challenge, Tristan took a three-week break from leading his business. “I travelled to visit some other businesses that helped seniors' health care. I came back with a clearer idea of building a values-based business. By giving a very clear purpose, a set of core values, and a well-communicated vision for the future, I was able to lay the foundations of what would help me sort out that mess. Now, another ten years from that time, we've grown from a 20-person team to a 150-person team. Those foundations have helped us grow and build,” Tristan conveyed.
To manage the stress of running a business, he shared some of the things he does that were a big help to him. Living in a country area, called Foster, where he spends two days a week working from home, allows him to be closer to nature and have the space to think and plan. He also looks after his physical and emotional health by keeping fit through running and cycling and by journaling.
Recovering from the challenge
As Tristan has laid out his vision and core values, he tackled the challenges head-on with the help of his team. “To build a team in any industry requires a big focus on the foundations of a strong culture. But in aged care, it's seen by many as not a very desirable place to work. Building a strong culture and a great place to work and then promoting it is helpful for us to be able to grow our business.”
Apart from his team, he finds himself fortunate to meet great people that could help him, especially those in EO Melbourne, where he is a member. The beauty of EO is that he doesn’t have to make every mistake himself to be able to learn. By listening to the stories and experiences of fellow business owners in EO Melbourne, he knows how to tackle problems when he finds himself in the same situation.
Tristan is also a big believer in finding the right mentor or coach for the skills that he needs at a given point in time. “It’s finding the right person at the right time to help me engage with my problem, understand it, build the skills that I need, and then move on to the next challenge. That's where the stress plus rest equals growth helps. When I’m in a stressful situation, I've to get the right resources around me, figure out a challenge, rest from that particular challenge, and move on to the new challenge that needs to be solved,” he added
When it comes to the right resources, here are Tristan’s recommendations for other entrepreneurs.
Great by Choice by Jim Collins
The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard
Culture is Everything by Tristan White
Podcasts (apart from his Think Big, Act Small):
Akimbo by Seth Godin
The Creative Penn podcast
Tony Robbins podcast
Presentations by Tristan White:
Culture is Everything, The story of a startup that became Australia's best place to work
Four secrets to a world-class culture
“In this journey that I'm on as an entrepreneur, it has helped me to discover my strengths, my weaknesses, many things about myself, some things that I like about myself, and some things that I am not pleased to reveal about myself. But the more that I understand about myself, thanks to the learning that comes from being an entrepreneur, the better I can become at serving other people,” he imparted. And so, the learning continues for Tristan White.