Helen Hayes is a Traditional Acupuncturist and Wellness Coach and runs retreats specializing in women’s health and stress management. Having
come from the corporate world, her mission now is to help ambitious women thrive in business without compromising their health and well-being and paying the price of burnout
Can you tell our readers about your background?
After my first degree in Economics and Spanish, I started on a career path in the City of London working in Corporate and Financial PR. My very first office was opposite the Bank of England which was quite something for a brand new grad!
My career originally developed in Business-to-Business Public Relations and I largely worked on international campaigns with teams from across the globe, which was great for me as I love travel. I particularly enjoyed running the press trips and even took a group of journalists to Silicon Valley. After the long hours and intensity of PR agency life, I decided to freelance and focused on supporting start-ups with their PR and marketing and in particular, women in business.
I have always been interested in health so, in my late 20s, I took myself back to university to study Traditional Chinese Medicine. I have been running acupuncture clinics and specializing in female health for well over ten years now, and recently I have expanded my business offering. I now support women in business in a different way – to help them gainbetter health, greater work life balance, overcome stress, and stay on top of their game. I run retreats for women and work with women 1:1 on developing and implementing their own personal wellness plans.
What inspired you to start your business?
This one is simple – I wanted there to be more support for ambitious women to thrive in business without compromising their health and well-being and paying the price of burnout.
Where is your business based?
I live in the Forest of Dean in the UK, and I currently run retreats within the UK and it’s only a matter of time before I will take those abroad! My wellness coaching can be online though, so I guess there’s no set location for that part of my business - I find connecting with and helping women from around the world totally inspiring - I absolutely love what I do!
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
When I first qualified in Traditional Acupuncture, I had to blend that work with my freelance PR work for a couple of years so it wasn’t a quick or easy career change. I then moved across the country from East to West, so had to start building a client base from scratch all over again. Only two years in, I was amazed how much of my work as a therapist came from word of mouth but that does mean you have to put a lot of time in initially to promote a brand new practice. I started www.balanceretreat.com this year as an extension of my practice so it is still very much my new “baby.”
I have always loved organizing and running events so offering retreats has always been at the back of my mind. I have also been studying day and night to further develop my wellness coaching skills. Other first steps have mainly been based around networking as I am also developing corporate wellness services, so for that I needed to find a team of qualified healthcare experts and business customers!
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
In the past, the most effective way for me has been word of mouth and the one-on-one meetings and interactions I have with people. I’ve learnt that it is very true that “people buy from people” especially when it comes to investing in your own healthcare. Trust is paramount.
More recently, Facebook has served me really well. Running well-being workshops have also been a good awareness raiser too – although this is all very much based around my local market. Now I have to convert all this to the online world to reach a greater audience of women for my new offerings!
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
At one point I had 4 jobs – as a single mother, I took on whatever work I could fit in to the week for financial reasons, so I found myself running clinics as well as freelancing in PR. As a result, I lost focus on the part of my business that I loved and I began to worry that I was losing my passion! The reality was I was just spreading myself way too thinly. I overcame this by seeking help from a variety of wonderful coaches and soon regained my passion and clarity. Now I just focus my work on what I love doing.
How do you stay focused?
Self-care is at the heart of what I do for a living and without “practicing what I preach” I would not be able to stay focused. Having a self-care routine keeps me on track in all the other areas of my life.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
My approach to wellness is underpinned by the philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine and I absolutely love blending East and West and the ancient with the modern. I have developed my own form of wellness coaching for women that fits this model too. I suppose it’s different as my business is a reflection of my own unique set of skills, knowledge and experience.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
To date, it has probably been nurturing and developing existing customers as word of mouth was so important to my acupuncture clinic.
More recently though and certainly for my new business, I think it has to be putting the time and investment in to developing a brand identity that is aligned with my target audience and creating a professional looking website.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Keep focused and prioritize self-care: get solid on your values, your needs, and your strengths and keep them in mind in everything you do. Stay healthy.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
App – my podcast app without a doubt!
Blog – I don’t have one favorite as I jump around from business blogs to wellness blogs all the time.
Book – Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela – changed my entire outlook on what is possible when I read it in my 20s.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
Evernote – helps be to keep things organized.
Who is your business role model? Why?
It probably has to be J K Rowling (Harry Potter) as despite her own personal challenges she followed her passion and the rest, as they say, is history!
What do you have planned for the next six months?
Networking and working on new retreats. I am also currently pulling together a team of therapists to launch my new corporate wellness services.
How can our readers connect with you?