It takes a lot to launch a successful startup: vision, resourcefulness, sheer hard work. What you don’t need is a lengthy track record—at least, that’s the opinion of Namita Nijjar, president and CEO of Toronto-based Simcoe Place Health Clinic, which places No. 28 on the 2016 STARTUP 50 ranking of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies, with two-year revenue growth of 306%.
Nijjar certainly started her business—a multidisciplinary clinic that offers services from doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, psychologists, massage therapists and other services—under circumstances that some might consider less than ideal. She had no experience running a health-care business, and, to complicate matters, she gave birth to twin boys (who arrived prematurely) just as she was opening the clinic.
“We had two practitioners, barely any sales and we were losing money every day,” Nijjar says. “My twins were in different hospitals for four weeks. Every day, starting three days after their birth, I would go from one baby, to the clinic, to the second baby, and do this literally round the clock. I was able to survive this and get the clinic to profitability within a year.
“While I don’t wish these type of circumstances on anyone, I was able to get to the next level by always having a solution oriented approach, hiring people who had strengths that I didn’t have, exercising empathy and always keep an eye on the bottom line.”
That trial-by-fire has forged in Nijjar a clear sense of what is really involved in getting a venture off the ground.
“Don’t be afraid to delve into a field you have no experience in,” she says. “I had been running a boutique recruiting firm when the idea for our clinic came to me; I had not worked in health care. As long as you have the drive, tenacity and critical analysis skills, you can use your experience in any industry to launch a brand new business.”
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