Building a Business: One Important Word of Advice

When starting a new project, type of work, or building a complementary therapy business, it helps to have someone to talk to, especially if that person is going through the same thing.

I have a close friend and colleague called Miro who I see maybe once or twice a year and have discussions with, usually with beer and sometimes vodka, as he is from Eastern Europe.

Years ago, when I had returned from Japan, I found myself in the UK in the aftermath of the financial crash. I had chosen this crazy time to return to set up my acupuncture practice after being away for 3 years. Basically I had to start from scratch again, looking for a new place to practice, building connections, finding new clients and dealing with reverse culture shock. Imagine going from one of the safest and cleanest countries in the world to London, one of the grubbiest cities in the world. I had limited funds and found myself in a city that had undergone some significant changes in the years I had been away.

For example, things were way more expensive. Rents, transport and general living costs, but especially rents. The rent inflation was something crazy.

My family advised me against coming back at this time, but I felt I had been away long enough, and was ready to get going again with my practice. However, it was a bad time to start up a business, or even to move back.

I often spoke to my friend Miro at this time. Such conversations help when it comes to discussing things like how much you charge, or where you advertise – e.g. do you do Google advertising, Or buy Facebook ads? Or should you offer things like cosmetic acupuncture, or discount coupons etc?

But most useful is the motivational aspects of discussing with like-minded people. The most useful piece of advice he gave to me was one word.

When I told him of the challenges I had. The lack of money and resources, and the high costs of living and working, he would tell me the most important thing in setting up a practice is “persistence”.


Persistence – the drive to keep going and to continue in your endeavour regardless of whether you seem to be succeeding or not.

Persistence – the drive to keep going despite all the difficulties or even when it seems like you are not making any progress at all.

Persistence – the determination to keep taking steps, even small steps, as you work toward a goal or object. Even though the final goal seems far, far, over the horizon. Perhaps unreachable.

It is often quoted, that the journey to the top of a mountain is begun with a single step. And followed by thousands of equally small steps. But each step is fuelled by persistence.

Mountain walking

I walked up some mountains in Japan. It is one of the most enjoyable things you can do there, that is also good for your health. But it can be hard at first if you are not conditioned for it.

Your legs are tired, you breathe more deeply and you sweat like a pig. At least I did. But with each step, you keep the goal in mind – to reach that glorious top (and buy a souvenir or some dango (sweet Japanese dumpling) from the shops at the peak). All the time ignoring those elderly Japanese men and women as they pass you with ease like they they are strolling through the park on a pleasant summer’s day.

It is persistence that gets me to the top.

Motivational Guru

At the time, this advice seemed like general motivational speak, but Miro was right. Persistence does pay off. The thing is – you only recognise it years later. Those steps, and that perseverance can brings fruits and results. But you have to take those small invisible steps first, to get those juicy fruits years later.

When I look back, I am glad I took those steps and persevered. This is not to say things will always be up and up. Life, just as with business is full of ups and downs and some plateaus. When you climb the top of the mountain, you still need energy for the descent.  And really ultimately, it is the experience of doing it that counts when you look back on your life.

So, this message has a motivational theme to it. Starting a new endeavour or business requires motivation and drive, just as much as money, planning and luck. But it also requires persistence.

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