Laura Patrick has always been a planner. Setting goals to make herself aim higher and achieve more. But Kids Physio didn’t start that way. It started with a quick passionate decision to move from a comfortable public practice to starting out on her own to fulfill a need she saw in her community. That need was private physiotherapy for kids.
Finding a Solution
Born and raised in North Vancouver, Laura went on to graduate from University of British Columbia’s Human Kinetics program and receive a Masters in Physiotherapy from McMaster University. She then spent three years with Vancouver Coastal Health as a physiotherapist on the Vancouver Regional Pediatric Team helping school-aged children. She soon realized that while the children often had funding for her treatment recommendations, there were few places for them to get that treatment.
In 2006, she started her one-woman business, first visiting families at home and then renting a small room in downtown Vancouver. She focused on providing children with effective and fun treatments for conditions including sports injuries, growth-related injuries, infant conditions such as torticollis and plagiocephaly, cerebral palsy, brain injuries and much more.
“I loved that I could see the direct results of my hard work,” explains Laura. “I was empowering kids to reach their highest gross motor potential”.
Over the next four years she gradually learned from her clients and families about what they needed, adding more equipment and moving to bigger locations. Then in early 2010, shortly after launching her website, she realized that she needed help. With a caseload that was bursting at the seams and more people becoming aware of her business, she needed to grow her business strategically. She stopped being reactive, took a step back and started to plan. Setting goals and learning how to run a sustainable business. There was another careful addition, the word Group to her business name. And for good reason.
In October 2010 Laura opened the doors to her current Fraser Street practice. It was ideal. A central location, free parking and of course, designed exclusively for kids. The business continued to grow and so did her team. From a single person operation, Laura now had a team of therapists, office management, front reception and volunteers all working together to achieve her core goals. She believes that staying true to those founding principles is one of her greatest strengths as an entrepreneur.
With the right systems in place, Laura took time to step back again and make some personal goals. She knew she wanted to start a family, but she also knew that she wanted to expand into new communities. Enter Nitin Ambardar. Having worked with Nitin for two years, he knew Laura’s goals and approached her with interest in opening a location in Surrey. They joined forces, using the processes and systems established in her Fraser Street location, and opened Surrey Kids Physio Group in May 2013, just a week after she welcomed the birth of her first son.
Laura’s success has continued to grow. She now has 12 team members and over 1,200 clients across her two locations. But it has not been without hard work and a steep learning curve. “I learned to follow my gut instincts and to take risks” Laura explains. “We set solid core values and have never wavered from them, and that’s important.”
But it’s not just her passion for physiotherapy and helping kids that has ensured her success. Laura was not afraid to ask for help or seek the support that she needed when starting and growing her business. Using the resources at Small Business BC and joining the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs Mentoring Program and enrolling in their E-Series program, known as ‘the mini MBA for entrepreneurs’. She also had the support of her husband who helped coach Laura on commerce and finance.
That passion for learning is one of the core values in her business and one of the reasons she believes in hiring, mentoring and training new graduate physiotherapists to help shape the future generation.
In 2012 as a testament to her commitment to the community, Laura was awarded the Small Business BC inaugural Best Community Impact Award. One of the judges on the panel was Winnie Hwo, a Campaigner for the David Suzuki Foundation, she commented, “[Kids Physio Group] is not only helping fill a niche in the physio world, [it] is a trailblazer that is making a change in how society addresses the needs of our children who need the help to live a better life.”
The Continued Evolution
Not one to stand still, Laura continues to evolve Kids Physio Group. Her team was recently joined by Dr Kirstin Houghton a much respected Pediatrician and Sports Medicine Physician, who will focus on the management of musculotskeletal injuries and illness in active kids.
And in September, another exciting milestone will be met. Laura will open a third location in conjunction with Jump Gymnastics on the North Shore. Taking her one step closer to her overall goal for the business. “We would like to see Kids Physio Group clinics in many cities around the province so that kids have easy access to our services.”
Inspiring a Community
When asked who inspires her, Laura is quick to answer, “The kids. Hands down, it’s the little faces in the clinic that make us do what we do.” She goes on, “Every day provides an opportunity for our therapists to look into the eyes of the families and see the difference we make in their lives. Whether it is through physical rehabilitation, milestone achievements of facilitation or public funding, Kids Physio Group is making a change, and we see it every time we open the door.”
If that doesn’t inspire you, we’re not sure what will!