Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Moe Awija, CEO of Elysian Wellness, located in Ottawa, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Elysian Wellness is a physical therapy and wellness company that provides services beyond just physical therapy. We provide everything from physiotherapy to dietitian services and cold plunge services. Our company was founded in 2017, and it all started as a dream of a young 24-year-old who wanted to create a business that would change people's lives for the better but also create a work environment that made staff love what they do. Our customers range from your average individual to high-performance athletes, police officers, motor vehicle accident victims, and individuals looking to lead a healthier lifestyle with our physical therapy and dietitian services.

We are currently excited to announce we are building our second location in Bell's Corner, which will feature all our original services plus more, such as a new yoga studio, fully equipped gym, IV therapy lounge, shockwave therapy, and a cold plunge room! We opened our doors in 2017 with just three therapists; four years later, we are at ten therapists are our current location and looking to hire another 20 at our second. We also hold 25+ awards won in the last four years, including Faces Magazine and Consumer Choice Awards. We were also nominated for the best wellness clinic with Top Choice Awards.

Tell us about yourself

I was 24 years old at the time when I decided to open my first business. I knew I did not want to go back to school, so I began brainstorming on what kind of business I wanted to open. I have a background and a university degree in kinesiology, as well as being an MMA fighter and athlete, so I figured opening a business in a related field might be the way I wanted to go. My father was a huge factor in opening my business. He pushed and supported me to open a physical therapy/wellness clinic, and here we are! I will be honest; I did not have a clue what I was doing when first building my business, from the construction to marketing, to hiring, and more.

I made an immense amount of mistakes that I, of course, learned from, and I thank God each day for the mistakes that happened as I believe they have helped us get to where we are today. It was a huge learning curve for me, but four years later, here we are, opening our second location!

What keeps me motivated each day to keep doing what I am doing are multiple things. The first thing would be that I love watching and being immersed in the process of growth. I remember when first starting this business and when we first opened our doors, there were some really rough days. I did not know if we were going to make it, considering 20% of businesses fail in their first year, and 50% fail within their first five years. I worked day in and day out, working the front desk while performing ownership duties as well as marketing, cleaning, meeting with doctors, and more.

I was pretty much doing everything myself at the beginning, working 14-hour days and weekends (with help from my family). Now, four years later, I have a full admin staff, clinic manager, ten therapists, a marketing firm, and an entire team beside me. I look back at where we started and seeing where we are now. All I can be is grateful that my hard work has paid off and grateful for my family, friends, and God because I would not have been able to do it without them.

The second thing that motivates me is changing people's lives for the better. When you get a patient in who has suffered a traumatic injury, and months later, they walk out your door with a smile on their face that they can live their life normally again, seeing that keeps me motivated. Not just patients, but it brings me joy to change my staff's lives for the better. Just helping my therapists grow with me, seeing them win awards, and building a full caseload makes me happy. It is a really hard industry to work in, and I love providing an environment that helps them grow as people and therapists.

Most of my staff have won awards since working at Elysian Wellness, and I truly believe they will continue to do so every year. I love helping the people around me grow with me; it is just who I am. My third motivator is the fact that I built something that is mine from nothing. Something truly mine, and I made it successful. I will never get tired of remembering that.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is the growth of the company. We are now opening up a huge 5500 sq ft location in Bell's Corner; when in 2017, I truly was not sure if the business was going to be part of the failed business statistics. With no major backings (such as bank loans or investors) and no other business partner, it's crazy to see how far we have come and how the company has grown so much in the last four years. A lot of businesses have multiple owners/partners, investors, and bank backings, but I truly wanted to do it on my own, and that alone, to me, is my biggest accomplishment. I was able to do it on my own, despite people telling me that it was not possible.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things that come with being a business owner is the responsibility. No matter what anyone says, it is a huge responsibility to own a business, maybe one of the biggest responsibilities you will ever have. You are responsible for the success, failures, expenses, and livelihood of your staff. You, and only you, can make your business succeed, and this responsibility may not be for everyone. Laziness is never an option when you are a business owner. You truly need to be on top of your business to ensure its continued success. The long hours, in the beginning, were also quite difficult; I had almost 0 social life for a long time.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

There are so many tips I can give; this is a hard one! I think some quick tips I can give are:

Tip 1: You will make mistakes, and that is ok. The thing you need to make sure of is you learn from them, truly learn from them. Mistakes are just a different way of learning, just like reading an article or a book on business.

Tip 2: Don't pretend you know everything or your way is the only way. There are always ways to diversify and grow. Once you are stuck in your ways and don't leave your mind open to out-of-the-box ideas, you are stunting your company's growth. I always take suggestions from my staff, family, and friends. I never close my mind to trying something new because that one new thing that might work might be the difference in your company's success.

Tip 3: The biggest mistake I see is people being cheap on their business and not spending money on things they should be. Invest in a good accountant. Invest in a good marketing firm. Invest in a good business lawyer. So many business owners think by saving on these kinds of expenses, they are keeping more money in their accounts, but it is really just harming their business in the long run. Understand one thing: the most precious thing you have as a business owner is time. The less time you spend on tasks that others can be doing, the more time you have to grow your business. Time is the real currency you should be worried about. Don't be scared to invest in a marketing team, or an accountant, or a lawyer who can draft up proper employment contracts. It may seem like a lot of money at first, but I promise you it is money well spent, and you will see a return on your investment, and it may even save your business in the future. Don't skimp out!

Where can people find you and your business?


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