For Brandi Smith-Young, turning her past experience into a new business idea wasn’t much of a stretch. After twenty years competing as a gymnast, nine years as a coach, and a Masters of Science in Physical Therapy, starting Perfect 10 Physical Therapy in July of 2008 just made sense. Brandi knew from her own sports injuries that there was a niche that was not being filled for injury care, strength & conditioning, and performance enhancement for cheerleaders and gymnasts. What’s more – she saw in herself a unique combination of strengths necessary to fill that niche.
“What I am doing now,” she says, “amazingly, is everything I’ve ever done, all rolled into one.”
As any athlete knows, it takes good coaching to come out on top. Brandi had the experience and the drive to succeed, but initially had trouble getting off the ground. “Everyone thought it was a great idea,” Brandi remembers, “but no one accepted my proposal or wanted to support it.”
After visiting with the City of Austin Small Business Development Program, Brandi was matched with a one-on-one BizAid business coach. Her business coach provided her with counseling as she further researched her prospects, wrote an official business proposal, and registered her business with the county.
Even after opening, it was not always easy. One of Brandi’s greatest challenges was reaching out to coaches and athletes. Many held on to the idea that physical therapy means the end of their season, and therefore had a “shake-it-off” attitude when it came to small injuries. Brandi has worked hard to educate area gymnasts that it is better to treat minor injuries than wait for surgery and oftentimes modified workouts help more than no activity at all.
Through dedication, and a lot of word of mouth marketing, Brandi is increasingly able to do what she loves – help young athletes get back to their sport and leave their pain behind. But, she advises, you always have to stay flexible as a business owner: “I get a lot of closed doors. Just know that as one door closes and at times when it seems every door is closed, sometimes you just have to wait for a window to open.”
Her patience is paying off and the business is in good shape these days. Brandi now has contracts with three different local gyms and continues to present at conferences and lead workshops for other gyms.
All the while, Brandi stays in contact with the Small Business Development Program through mailings and newsletters, learning new tips for her business and keeping a pulse on interesting programs for Austin entrepreneurs. With information and support, Perfect 10 Physical Therapy is winning top marks without bending over backwards.