Being authentic and true to oneself has been Michelle Rimmer’s mantra since the launch of her business, Hills Massage, 20 years ago.

Reflecting on her business journey, Michelle said she would tell the younger version of herself that consistency is the key to success.

“You have to be consistent in the quality of your or product, your communication with clients, the quality of your paperwork and your marketing efforts,” she said.

Michelle also advises other business owners to trust in themselves and their abilities, rather than waste their energy “sweating the small stuff”.

“Those small worries that consume your time and energy rarely materialise into significant issues,” she said.

Embrace your growth as it evolves

Michelle said that she once dreamed of having her own clinic with just two treatment rooms and one additional practitioner.

“Little did I know that we would eventually own our place outright and employ a team of five while building a strong and well-established brand,” she said.

Hills Massage commenced as a mobile business after Michelle relocated back to Western Australia after a stint in England. Her love of the art of massage started out as a hobby after originally working as a registered nurse.

The burgeoning business moved from a mobile service to bricks and mortar in 2014 when Michelle leased a small space in central Kalamunda, before purchasing and converting a historic residence.

“We now live in the back and run the business from the front,” Michelle said.

“We have the flexibility to use the additional space as needed as we plan to add a third treatment room in the next six months.”

“Compared to when we were under a commercial lease, we now have greater control over the building's appearance, with the ability to make significant changes to its aesthetics.”

The SBDC can be a lease/tenancy information lifeline

During the COVID-19 epidemic, when certain businesses including massage practitioners were required to close to protect public health, Michelle sought help from the SBDC’s specialist business advisers to understand her lease entitlements regarding the closure.

“The SBDC helped me compose an email to our landlord, outlining the concessions we were entitled to due to the closure of our business,” she said.

“We were among the few tenants in our area to receive the full concessions we deserved.”

“We also received valuable advice when we ended our commercial lease.”

Michelle said that a primary motivator for her to reach out to the SBDC for help was that their landlord's representative was difficult to reach and negotiate terms.

“The SBDC provided me with the resources to comprehend my lease and obligations, as well as ideas on how to negotiate some clauses that seemed unfair.

“Thanks to their advice, we saved money on unnecessary extra expenses.”

Photo of Michelle Rimmer, owner of Hills Massage, giving a client a massage.
Michelle Rimmer started Hills Massage as a mobile business 20 years ago.

Set aside funds to avoid costly mistakes

Michelle said that the most expensive lesson has been the importance of understanding and managing insurance and workers' compensation costs.

“While these expenses are essential, they can become a financial burden as your business grows,” Michelle said.

“We now set aside funds in a separate bank account on a weekly basis in a proactive way to prevent the accumulation of large, unexpected bills which was a costly mistake in the past.”

Owning a business can afford you flexibility

Michelle said that her business has allowed her to embrace the freedom of choosing her own working hours, opting for working on weekends while enjoying two days off during the week.

“This flexibility has really improved our work-life balance and is one of the most rewarding aspects of owning our own business,” she said.

“Another valuable lesson we've learned is the importance of having the autonomy to decide what services we offer.”

“Rather than being limited to a single offering, we've had the freedom to experiment for example, introducing services such as massage workshops.

“Our ability to try new approaches has been a key factor in our success.”

“We have also learned that it's crucial to remain adaptable and open to updating and changing our product choices when better, more sustainable options become available.”

Local support is priceless

Michelle said that the economic contribution in WA of the small business sector often goes unnoticed and perhaps a little unheralded.

“Thankfully within our local community of Kalamunda, we have experienced tremendous grassroots support, which has allowed our business to thrive and make a substantial contribution to the local economy.”

If you can relate to Michelle’s journey and would like further information, see some of the helpful topics below.

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Small business stories
06 October 2023