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Sunday, February 26, 2023

Symmetry's 15 Year Anniversary

We are happy to announce that Symmetry is turning 15 this March!


Looking back, it’s hard to believe where all the time went. 


Over the years, we have seen it all, from the highest highs, to almost losing our business at least once.


But after all that experimenting, learning, failing, and succeeding– We. Are. Still. Here.


Here’s how it went down.


Where It All Started


One year after we started Symmetry360, we were riding sky high. Our practice was booming, our schedule was filled up, and we were ready for more growth.


We hired our first therapist, Brandy, who was fresh out of massage school and ready to learn. We also saw a need for a larger space to fit our growing practice.


One day, while we were out for lunch, we noticed a place for lease only three blocks away from our founding location. After a quick phone call and meeting with the leasing agent, we signed on the new space which could support 3X our current size. 


With three massage rooms and a small waiting room, we were super excited. But we also felt like we were jumping off a cliff.


Now we had to figure out how to fill these rooms. It was time for our first targeted marketing campaign. 


Our First Experience With Growth


Our first campaign was a Valentine’s Day weekend promotion on Groupon. To our surprise, the promotion blew up – the day it went live we had over 1,000 massages booked. 


We focused on giving this first wave of clients the best massages they had ever had before, and many of them rebooked. We quickly hired a few more therapists, and booked our schedules for 6 months in advance. 


The Valentine’s Day promotion taught us an important lesson: that our mission could impact people on a much larger scale.


As more people experienced what we had to offer, we were sparking conversations and building connections with their friends and family.


This meant we could increase our impact.


It was time to add on more space. In 2013, we took over the space below our existing home and built a studio where we could hold wellness workshops and classes.


This is where we ran into our first snag. 


Growing Pains


We had a beautiful space with great teachers ready to offer valuable skills, but nobody showed up. 


We tried everything we could to fill the studio. Groupon deals. Offering classes for couples on giving their partner a quality massage. Nothing was working. 


This was our first major business failure, and the rent and expenses were adding up.


We decided to sublease the space to a local massage school, which turned out to be a great idea.


We were building relationships with massage students and instructors in our building, and fostering a community of like-minded professionals.


Some of these students would end up working for us when they graduated. 


Treating Your Business Like an Experiment


This experience was an example of how treating our business like an experiment was such an important part of our philosophy. 


We recently published an article on the Symmetry Collective blog about how to manage the fear of failure, where we talk about how throughout an entrepreneurial journey, you will have many chances to take chances, collect feedback, and make adjustments.


This was an excellent example of this practice in action, and we would have many more experiences just like this.


Around the same time, we realized that it was time to hire dedicated staff for managers, front desk, accounting, and marketing. Even though we knew how to run a successful massage business, we were reaching the limits of our expertise in the business side of things.


We experimented with hiring a consultant to teach us about finances and converting our therapists from independent contractors to full time employees. Although this advice paid off in the short run, we ended up behind on payments for our ballooning employee taxes, with a need to catch up by upping our sales numbers.


We had learned a valuable lesson.  We had listened intently to a single source of information and took their advice, and now we were in trouble.


Disaster Strikes


Later on, we sought free financial coaching services through a local Small Business group, and learned that we were only two weeks away from being shut down for good. 


The consequences of this were severe. We held a tough meeting with our therapist where we announced that they would need to return to their previous wage structure. 


We told them that we would try our hardest to get out of this hole and continue to grow the business.


But we also said if they chose to leave, we would be happy to give them a glowing review. We would understand their choice.


We never expected what happened next.


Every single therapist stayed on with us. We heard that they believed in our vision, and that they enjoyed the experience of working for us.


This was another valuable lesson – that you shouldn’t make big decisions based on a single opinion. This is where the value of community comes in, where you can lean on many sources for advice and first hand experience, instead of getting stuck with advice you have already paid for.


That month, we went on to hit record-breaking sales. We paid off our overdue tax balance, and we were back in business – thanks to the hard work of the entire team.