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How the Cliches are True: Failing Forward with Hayley Belveal

Hayley Belveal owner of Soccer Fitness and Recovery

Introducing Ms. Hayley Belveal. Hayley and I worked together a while ago when she first decided to start her own business. She has gone through lots of different things and I was really excited to hear about the evolution of her business Soccer Fitness and Recovery. It had been a little while so it was so great to catch up with her!

What we will be covering:

Share a bit about you and what led up to us working together and where you are now:

Hayley: I'm Hayley Belveal. I am from Lake Jackson, Texas, a small town south of Houston, but I currently live in Austin, Texas. I went to the University of Texas in Austin for my undergraduate and Angelo State University which is a very small university in West Texas for physical therapy school. I got out a physical therapy school and my first job was terrible, but I felt like I've come full circle and towards the end of my time working full-time I saw the same patterns cropping up. Basically high volume clinics and at that clinic in particular I didn't have a lot of mentorship opportunities so it made it even more difficult, so I was only at that first clinic for about four months. I quit before I even found another job and then I took the first job I could get and it was a traveling job to seven different clinics, but full-time so full-time pay. It was really hard, really stressful. I did that for a couple of years. Then, we moved to Austin and I worked full-time for a physician-owned therapy clinic which I loved. I loved that I got to see the doctor's notes and see exactly what was going on instead of getting prescriptions that said "knee pain". I actually got a specific surgery, the post-op report, and everything. Then, just before Covid they went into a partnership with a PT management company and they started having us see higher volumes of patients. There was a lot of micromanaging and this was just before Covid. During Covid, I got laid off and that was when I decided that I was going to start my own business because they didn't know how long we were going to be laid off for. After about five years of practicing I was getting antsy. Wondering what else can I do. I was too scared to open my own practice but when you're laid off there's not really anything to be scared of.

I have been listening to Jarod Carter's podcast The Cash Based Physical Therapy before and during Covid when I was laid off. Rob Vining was one of the guests and he had this whole Telehealth movement and he had a Facebook group, so I jumped in on that. He provided free educational materials for how to set up your website and a Telehealth platform for really cheap. I did that and then I got rehired six weeks later, but as I said before the company was super micromanaging and with them wanting us to increase our patient volume I just didn't feel like I was giving the care that I should and maybe not necessarily even feeling the way I'm supposed to. I then reached out to Morgan because I knew that she could keep me accountable and keep me on track while I was trying to juggle working full-time, having two kids, and a husband who works a lot. I finally left in March of 2021. Then, I picked up some PRN work three days a week for a girl who was on maternity leave and when she came back I still was not quite where I wanted to be so I've still picked up PRN work while doing my business. The past couple of months though, I've decreased my PRN hours to from 20 to 25 hours, down to 10. Things were getting a little too hectic and so that's where I am right now.

Morgan: Yay! Thank you so much for sharing all of that! I know that one thing that I think is interesting with doing this series and talking to lots of different people, and I'm sure since you started your business and talking to other practice owners, it feels like we feel alone when we start a solo practice, so many of our journeys started the same way. A lot of us have experienced a lot of the same things and it takes a lot of courage to say I think I'm actually going to do something about this because I'm uncomfortable compromising my ethics and I want something different. I deserve something different and better for myself. I know when we first met I think those are some of the things that we had in common with our journey of starting a business. It was really easy to team up because we needed to do something about it.

Can you share the evolution of your ideal patient? Your niche. Where we started. Where we ended. Where you are now.

Hayley: When we first started working together I know you had encouraged me to niche down and so I changed what I was promoting from at-home Telehealth PT to Soccer Fitness and Recovery. I really started targeting soccer clubs and trainers, and then I've since done talks for clubs recreational leagues, coaches (teaching them on things they can do for injury prevention for their players), and I even did a talk for a high school girls' soccer team on injury prevention. Then, the coach wanted some other information on sleep habits because high schoolers like to be on their phone until all hours.

Then, I even started coaching, which I've never done before, for one of the clubs that's right down the street from my house. I had to coach this girls' team and I felt like that's helped me get into the soccer world a little bit more and network with more people. However, I have had to stop doing some of those things because my husband works a lot so it was a little too taxing on our home life, with having two kids. I actually feel like more recently I have been marketing the at-home Telehealth side of things.

Also I caught the eye of a neurologist in town who treats Parkinson's patients somehow. I have a few Parkinson's patients now on my caseload which isn't quite the direction I imagined myself going, but their schedule works with my schedule. I did a vendor event at a Parkinson's symposium last week, so the word is getting out that I come to the house. I'm honest with my patients. I tell them I haven't worked with Parkinson's a lot in my career, but I'm happy to work with them. Most of them that this neurologist is sending me have already been through the Big Program anyhow and they're looking for something extra. That's what has been happening right now. I'm starting to focus more on senior communities and feel out what can happen there. The efforts for meeting people and networking with soccer and the hours are just not so good for me right now.

Morgan: I think that's so cool because it sounds to me that where we left off you were in a place where the soccer thing was still taking shape and you're in a place where you need more clients/patients and then you did that! Now you're in a place where you're getting this new influx of another niche and you're having to say I can't work with all these soccer players right now because of my own personal life. It's almost a level up since last year because you're choosing what fits with where you're at right now.

Can you share some advice for people who are struggling to balance everything? What have you learned as far as life balance goes with the business?

Hayley: That's a constant struggle I will say. Definitely having a supportive partner is helpful because I had to tell my husband how many days a week he's going to have to pick up the kids when he's been getting used to not having to do it at all.

I'm starting to realize that whenever you put the things that you want to do first sometimes, (like exercise or going with my daughter on a school field trip), I somehow wind up with more patients. One of the main reasons that I am doing this is so I can have more flexibility with my kids. You just have to trust that if you live your life and you do the things that you want to do, that you're going to meet people along the way and then they're going to find out about you.

I did join the networking group also, which has been really helpful. We meet once a week, so we're always at top of mind for each other. Then, I am working on trying to incorporate a meditation habit. It's a little spotty, but I'm working on it and hoping to be more consistent.

Morgan: I love that you like bring that up because even though we haven't talked in a little while, I feel like we're kind of on the same like path right now. You were talking about doing things for yourself. I totally agree with you! I swear, any time I go on vacation, or I actively decide I want to do something, or I choose myself first, I feel like it gives you energy that is so attractive to the right people. The ones that you're you're supposed to work with or have in your life. The thing with creating healthy habits, that is something that I think we put up a lot of barriers ourselves. We say we don't have time to do this. One thing I wanted to share with you because it's really helped me, is creating habits with the bare minimum. I got this from one of the books that I read. Basically it's like saying instead of needing to meditate for 30 minutes a day, just meditate for 30 seconds every day. It's so easy, anybody could do that. It makes it so easy to succeed that eventually things build on each other. I'm doing that with reading right now. Every day before I go on TikTok I have to read for five minutes.

I am so glad that you brought that up because it's so powerful. I think when you wake up every day and actively decide to do things that resonate with your values and there are things that you want to do, the universe just sends you more of it.

Hayley: Yeah. It's like things that you did six months ago that you thought were a waste of time, all of a sudden you get a patient and then you realize that wasn't a waste of your time after all.

I know one of the things that you had wanted to share is the fact that all of the cliches are true. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and what your experience has been?

Hayley: So listening to you and some of the other coaches online, listening to audio books, you hear the same themes and and they're true! You almost have to fail in order to figure out where you're going to go. What's going to be successful. A lot of times some of the scripts that Morgan would give me to tell people on the phone, I would leave out a chunk and then I would understand why that piece was so crucial. Now if I'm doing the phone call again I would for sure include that piece. You were talking with one of the other entrepreneurs on the same interview about Nike "just do it" and a lot of it is just doing it. It's not going to be perfect, nobody's perfect. If you compare yourself, somebody's always better than someone else and someone's always worse than someone else. Nothing's ever going to be perfect, so just do you and meet people who are like-minded like you who are gonna gravitate to you.

I don't have any specific quotes or anything right now off the top of my head, but I just know that this whole way this is exactly happening like how everyone says. There's a morning show that I've listened to ever since I was in college and it's called the Bobby Bone Show, but he has a book and it's called Fail Until You Don't. It's exactly entrepreneurship. You can't know what to do before you do it, so no matter the amount of research you do you just have to do it and learn from your own experience. If you're a teenager and your mom's trying to tell you don't do that, that's bad. You're going do it anyway because you have to learn for yourself.

Morgan: I think it's kind of funny too because it is analogous to therapy school. A lot of us learn best by being "hands-on". Not always manual therapy, but working with actual patients. Sometimes building your business is almost the same as working with somebody who has this gradual onset pain that's wonky and responds differently:

If that resonates with you, it's pretty similar with business stuff too. As scary as starting a business can be, you already have a lot of the problem solving skills that you need in order to start.

Hayley: When I look back, I remember first creating my website and I was so scared to go live because I thought that I was going to have this huge influx of patients and I didn't have all my forms together. That's not the case though, so that's another reason to just do it. Just put it out there. You can fix it later. It's just one of the steps that is important to have a website so people can find you.

Morgan: Absolutely! Like you said, if anybody else is scared about it, guess what, when you click publish it doesn't alert the entire internet. Nothing will happen.

Over the past couple of years, what have you seen work best for you? Why?

Hayley: Everyone says word of mouth is the is the number one driver. That's why I think the networking group that I'm in is so helpful. We meet once a week, we get to know each other, other people in the group have used each other and can vouch for each other. They don't want to keep anyone in the group that's like not helpful.

I did get those few leads from that Facebook group before we figured out how to get around Texas' stringent laws about things. Now, I evaluate the person, ask them who their doctor is that they've either seen for that condition or seen last, send it over, and I've never had a physician not sign. That solved that problem. However, word of mouth, that's how that neurologist found out about me. I had a really happy patient and so then she sent me another and they were really happy and sent me another. Hoping it keeps on going. The Facebook group I've been pretty consistent with until the past month and a half because I have been so busy so I need to get back on that and I would go into other groups and say "Hey! Want know about how long you should tape your ankle after a sprain? Come to my group!" That's how I've gotten a lot of the people into my group. I also did this vendor event that I felt was pretty successful.

Tell us what has not worked:

Hayley: I think it depends on your personality. I've done a lot of screening events where I go to Gold's Gym or Orange Theory, set up the table, and look at people's injuries that they have. I do a quick little 5 - 10 minute screen, give them a couple pieces of advice, give them my card, tell them I can help, and then nothing, That is not my strong suit.

Morgan: One quick comment that I want to make on the screenings. This is something I talk a lot about with with the students in the coaching program. It's almost like if somebody comes up to me at the gym and if I'm currently looking for physical therapy patients, which is not always for me personally, but if somebody comes up to me and says, "Morgan my shoulder is really bothering me. Can you help me?" If I do the typical thing, I would say for a lot of us: "What happened? Did you have an accident? Gradually come on? Tell me all about the injury history. Try this and this and then go home and do these exercises, let me know what happens." If I do that, I feel like it gives the person the impression that if they just do those things then they'll be fine, but then because people in general are not great about self-motivated execution of things. They might do them that day and then stop and then nothing. They still end up having the problem. I'm speaking to that from both the professional view and the patient view because I've done that. I'm just wondering if maybe that's the phenomenon that's going on with screenings versus if I'm currently looking for patients. I almost never talk to them about their injury right then and there. I might ask what happened to screen them in my head as to whether I can help them. If I think I can help them, I'll say, "I can't talk right now but let's set up another time to talk" or I'll even schedule an appointment. It's almost a better way to "capture" people because you're telling them exactly what needs to get done instead of just "try this and let me know". What do you think about that?

Hayley: Yeah, I can understand that because if they go home and they try the exercise and it doesn't work, they're like, "Well, that's not going work for me," That could be their thought process. I think that leaving a little more mystery is probably the way to go about it because it's almost like you're giving too much when you do these screens. It's too much, I don't know what they're getting.

Morgan: It's almost like it's an information overload for the patient. That just popped in my head, and I thought maybe that's why people who I've talked to at the gym don't end up scheduling.

Hayley: Yeah, I'm like, "I've been here for three hours. I've seen so many people and nothing." I've had the experience where there's nobody's at my table so it's almost like nobody wants to come to the table. If they see somebody there then they want to do it too. Even when I've gone to this particular indoor soccer facility, and I went to all the groups of people introducing myself and saying, "If you're curious about an injury and you want to know if therapy can help, come hang out at my table with me!" I think I had two people that day and I was there for two or three hours, so it's a little disappointing.

Morgan: Yeah, for sure. I've tabled once and nobody came over to me at all. I think you're probably on to something with having somebody there and I'm curious about this "sneaky tactic". You could bring a couple changes of like clothes for someone and have them come sit on your table throughout the day. It would be interesting to see if that helps others come over.

You've done paid screens and free screens, right?

Hayley: Yes I did paid screens one time and that was actually pretty successful because I had the director of this one soccer club and these were injury prevention screens. She was super gung-ho and really excited about what I was doing. She heard about me from a friend of a friend and she's an occupational therapist, so she helped me get this event together. I had a bunch of girls ,back-to-back, 30-minute increments outside, running them through different tests and gave them a few exercises to try. Then, the next day one of them got hurt playing soccer and their mom called and wanted to see me. The only problem is that particular club is like 45 minutes away from where I live. It was really nice to be able to do those screens and get a bunch of work all in a short period of time, but I just wish I could convince some of these other soccer clubs to let me do that there. I think because they're rec leagues, they're possibly regulated with what cash options they can offer. Something I need to work on.

Morgan: I know my client Brandis (you can see her interview here), she has done tabling at several volleyball tournaments and she charges at least on some of them. What's been helpful for her if she charges and she's there for a ten hour day, she makes two to three hundred dollars, it's a decent day. She paid for her time. I think there's also a fine line too, and this is where you probably have to know your audience between doing it for free or paid, that if you do a paid thing people perceive it as being a lot more valuable.

Hayley: I think you're right. I did do a table event at a tennis tournament and I got a lot of interest there, but not afterwards. While I was there though, I had several people try to pay me and I didn't even ask the guy if that was something that was an option.

Anything else that has not worked?

Hayley: I did put my business on my car. That hasn't been really that effective. I did get a call from it twice. Once was a guy that was trying to start his own business and then the other guy lived an hour away and they were too far away.

One of the newer things I'm doing now are talks at active adult communities. I did get a potential patient there, but I was in Costa Rica. I got a call from this lady. Now I'm the opposite saying, "I can go away for a week and I won't have any business", but I am now. I called her back within 48 hours and she was already going somewhere else, It's like, "Darn it! I'm going have to get myself a virtual assistant or something to catch those calls!"

Morgan: I haven't really thought about this before. Not only what has worked well marketing wise, and of course totally dependent on you, your personality, your audience, skills that you have, whether you're somebody who is more vocal and building relationships or some of us who are more internet inclined. Playing to your strengths with it. Then, thinking about this on the other side, what absolutely does not work.

Hayley: I did a presentation in my Toastmasters group. I had a whole list of the things that I've tried, just before the presentation, I just kept thinking of more and more things that I've tried and I'm noticing I've got a lot of stuff.

Morgan: And that's okay! Going back to what you said before, keep trying, keep failing until you don't. I was just thinking too of things that I did at the beginning. I think I had an open house. I don't think that I had an ideal location and the pre-event promotion wasn't very good, I remember sitting at the gym with my table and I had a bunch of flyers and I brought cookies. I was the only one who ate one, but that's fine.

Hayley: I feel like the establishment needs to help promote you a little bit or else nobody's going to be expecting you.

Morgan: Right! It was kind of strange and I think that's definitely a good tip to make sure, especially if you're paying rent there, that the business is open to you letting the members of the establishment know that the thing is going to be happening. That's key to doing an open house. I've seen open houses or meet and greet events be really successful with other people, but it's because the practice owners are already in the community there or they have access to the members list and they can put up posters. I know that didn't work and honestly one of the best things that worked for me was going and showing up at the gym and getting to know people, talking to them, and letting them know what I do. It's so funny, I started getting clients at about six months of me going to both gym.

Hayley: I play soccer on the weekends. Now with it being the Summer, all of the games are at nine o'clock. I can either play or I've thought about putting a tent out and offering for people to come talk to me, but I just want to play so bad. Then also I've contacted the head lady of our organization to ask her permission, but she doesn't get back to me at all. Sometimes I think it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. That's in the back of my mind of something that I want to do also: set up a tent and talk to some people that are at the fields whenever I'm there.

Morgan: I feel like I want to brainstorm and help you with this because I feel like maybe it would be cool too to have you play the first half and then the second half pass out orange slices and Capri Suns.

Hayley: I like it! That's actually not a bad idea.

Morgan: If you wanted to invest more into it, getting swag. I was talking to somebody today about the fourth of July parade here. There's one company that passes out sweat towels that are soaked so you can put them on your your neck and make it a lot cooler. They pass them out every single year and doing something like that maybe even would be cool because it's a tangible, reusable thing versus a throwaway thing, (like a Capri Sun).

I really appreciate you being so open about your journey and what's worked, what's not worked, and the fact that you've shown that over time you can switch it up, (who you are trying to work with) and that's okay. The the truth of it is you probably will change things. Whatever you start with right now, you'll probably change eventually or come up with a second version and then a third version, and keep changing things. This is so good to hear that you're doing well and like I mentioned before, you're in charge. You're not at the mercy of anybody. You're not feeling desperate to find people to work with and you're putting yourself first too, so that's also good. It takes practice. Every day is basically practicing living and taking care of yourself.

Hayley: I do want to mention too, I have put up some TikTok videos and there's a nurse practitioner in my networking group and she says she's showing patients my videos from time to time when applicable to what the person's coming in there for. I have one on good neck and pillow positioning if you have neck pain, there's a few crutch ones. Actually the first one I put up about how to fit crutches to you has about 30,000 views right now. I have no idea how that happened! That's a way I can get in with physicians possibly, so they can say, "Here's a TikTok video. Let me show it to you or go on to her handle."

Morgan: Video content is basically king right now. It's so good because you can use it in so many different ways and TikTok's are great resources because they're so short.

Hayley: I don't watch the long ones so I think other people aren't going to too.

If you had to give Hayley of 2019 advice, what would you tell her?

Hayley: I would say just do it as we talked about one of those cliche phrases, One of the biggest regrets I feel that people say and I would agree with is not starting sooner. Part of it is those own limiting beliefs. I think back to when I was a kid from a town an hour south of Houston. When we would drive into Houston I used to think you must be really special and really smart to work in a skyscraper because I thought those were so unique. Then starting my own business, for some reason, I thought some step of the way someone was going to say "stop, you can't do it." Nobody does that, so it's just your own limiting beliefs that have you where you are. That would be my advice, just do it. Write it on your mirror.

Morgan: I love that. What a cliche: the only person who's going to stop you is you. Honestly though, it's so true and even when I started my business I was nervous about it. Everybody in your community and people around you are so supportive. I think a lot of people fear the judgment and fear people saying something negative. At least up until this point, knock on wood, nobody has.

If you're considering opening a therapy practice or it's using your therapy skills to build another business, go for it! The worst thing that will happen is that it doesn't work, Then you just try something else and it'll be great.

How to contact Hayley:

TikTok: @hayley8s4

Listen to this episode on my podcast!

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