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Alison Shaw | Managing anxiety | Therapist on a mountain

Do deep feelings of insecurity stop success? Apparently not judging by this single mum's self-confidence as a Managing Director.
I am the Managing Director of Ripple in Tamborine Mountain in Queensland. I am 43. My parents are Australian. I am a single mum with 16 year old boy Jack and a fantastic boyfriend Dean.

Ripple was a glimmer in my eye for a couple of years before I started it here in 2005. Just me, one therapist on a mountain.

I grew up in Sydney but about 15 years ago I won a prize trip to the Gold Coast, visited Tamborine Mountain and fell in love with the area. I decided to shift there on a whim. Everyone thought I was mad. Six weeks later I moved. My baby was just one year old and I was a single mum.

I picked up work at the local wineries on their cellar doors. I stayed working for the wine industry and ended up managing a vineyard but after working for other people for about 7 years, I decided I wanted to run my own business. I wanted to have a balance between my work and life, to take control of my time to be with my son, and to satisfy my need to make other people happy.

Sometime earlier I had written a marketing plan for a friend who had wanted to start a massage business. My friend didn't use it.

I decided to launch a massage and beauty business. I had a massage table and $800.

Because I have been extraordinarily lucky and met some amazing people along the way, it has grown pretty quickly. People started asking me if I could travel to other areas and so after a month I put on another therapist and in the space of three months I had finished the first year of my business plan! This gave me confidence that Ripple was on track.

Ripple is a day spa with mobile therapists who come to you in your home or hotel. We have lots of massage and beauty treatments from the lush Chocolate massage to the deeply relaxing Hot Stone or unique Russian massage. Our packages include extras like lime and tangerine exfoliation, cleansing face masks and peppermint scented foot soaks. There are also beauty services like manicures, pedicures, lush facials and spray tanning. The most popular treatments include the frangipani package for hens' parties and girls' weekends. Products, including soaps, are handmade by us at Mt Tamborine.

The business plan has been a key in our success, not just having one but following it. It includes information on marketing, financials and risk management. My mum is an obsessive planner and she had lists for everything. Fortunately, I caught the habit from her.

Our marketing plan has kept us focused. It stopped us paying for ads we didn't need. The risk management strategies have meant we have side-stepped some potential disasters and the cashflow strategy has meant we have never had any bank debt.

Our website is very important and we made sure it was search engine optimised (SEO) so that people could find us. We use e-mail newsletters to keep all customers up-to-date. I have an ongoing Twitter presence, (which is where I met Confident Woman), and we phone all clients the day after their sessions to make sure they're happy. We also use secret shoppers to gain extra feedback.

After only four years Ripple is now operating in Queensland, Victoria and NSW. We have over 40 therapists. We plan to be Australia wide within a year and then to open in New Zealand.

Oh, and a few people have asked if we are a franchise or run by a big multi-national company.

Nope, Ripple is wholly owned by me but is run by a group of amazing women and men who love what we do.

I'm mostly the chick who does the e-mail newsletters and gets to decide where we open next. The super women and men in Ripple (our therapists and booking service) are the ones who make it all run smoothly.

I don’t want to appear something I’m not; I am personally deeply insecure, however I am very confident about the business.

Just about every day I feel insecure but figure if I work really hard, try to do the right thing and have a good plan then the chances of the business being successful are pretty good.

I have self-doubt in wanting to do Ripple justice, to make sure that I am good enough to live up to the promise of the company.
The hardest times for me to keep my self-confidence are when I feel that there would be someone better to be running this company. Sometimes I am surprised that I am the best person to do a particular task in Ripple and that it is up to me to lead others. I am extraordinarily lucky and a lot of the success has come from luck and a bit of hard work. I feel that I am really lucky to be a part of Ripple and for the company to have attracted such talented people into it.

I have overcome a lack of confidence by working hard and doing lots of training, and hiring people who are better than me to fill the areas where I am weak.
What  has helped me build my confidence is trying hard, working hard and doing the best that I can.

It’s good to have self-confidence because other people feed off this and it inspires hope in others in the business.

Read Ripple's website. http://www.ripplemassage.com.au  

Insecurity is often associated with anxiety - if you need anxiety management there are some great articles for you to read and comment on: "Managing anxiety: Taming the wild horse". There is some beautiful poetry with it too by Maryam Paschali.  

Reader Comments (4)

Hi Alison,

What a great story. How wonderful to be able to turn your idea into a successful business. Most inspiring reading!

Fran Yeoh
Tue 10 Nov, 09 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterFran
You have inspired me Alison - you have achieved so much in such a short time with so little - you must have expansive thinking and self-confidence at work! I will work on mine now I have read your story.
Tue 17 Nov, 09 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterRachel Green
Great thing that you know the right therapy for your anxiety.
Mon 24 Jun, 13 at 2:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterTherapy
Yes there is no one way to manage anxiety - there are many ways. Our journey is to find the right way for each of us, and to keep going until we do.

Sun 30 Jun, 13 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRachel Green

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