This month’s Member Spotlight is on certified reflexologist Melanie Giangreco, owner of Mpath Well-being. Melanie has been doing reflexology for years, but in its current form, Mpath Well-being began in January 2017. Melanie had just moved back to Vermont in December 2016, and two weeks after she moved back, she incorporated her business. According to Melanie, it has gone through a lot of ebbs and flows over the years, but she’s always had it as part-time employment.
The big shift in her business recently has been to offer more online services. Her immediate response to the pandemic was, “How can clients still benefit from this even if I can’t see them in person?” She reasoned that the more you can provide value to clients in between visits, the more you can engage them in ways that are meaningful and not just hard sales, the more valuable a service is offered.
Melanie’s been doing a lot with Instagram lately, posting videos demonstrating techniques. Pivoting to online classes and demonstrations has been beneficial to her business, and Melanie plans to continue to offer online services after the pandemic lifts.
A side benefit to creating videos for posting online is that it allows her to practice articulating what reflexology is and how it works. As Melanie states, “The more you write about your work and talk about your work, the easier it is to explain it to others.” Her online work has translated into better in-person conversations with her clients.
Benefits & Challenges of Self-Employment
When asked about the benefits of self-employment, Melanie immediately identified flexibility. She also mentioned the benefit of being about to work with people who are a good match for your services. One of the things she loves about self-employment is being about to do something that brings value to her community and from which she can make a living.
Melanie points to the uncertainty of being self-employed during a pandemic as one of the challenges, especially for people who are single, who don’t have an employed partner to provide financial back-up. But being part of an organization like WBON provides a support system, and she appreciates the resources and advice that come from it.
Melanie has received a lot of good advice over the years. One piece that she’d like to pass on, is to hone in on who your target customer is. In the beginning, she was thinking “Reflexology’s for everyone!” But in reality, you are not going to be able to work with everyone.
Another piece of advice she has for other women business owners: Really be clear on your pricing structures and don’t back down when someone complains. No matter how low you set your prices, there’s someone who can’t afford it. You need to set your prices on what you are worth and what the market will bear. You can still figure out ways to work with people who can’t afford it, as long as you make that the exception and not the rule. For instance, you can offer classes so that people can benefit from your services even if they can’t afford one-on-one sessions.
There’s another piece
of advice Melanie took to heart early: Go
into it with the mindset that, “It has to make money.” Know what you want to initially invest in your company, be clear to yourself on what you need to make to make it viable, and be willing to clear if it doesn’t meet your financial goals. Tell yourself, “I can’t lose money on this. If the business isn’t making money in X amount of time, then I’m closing.” Remind yourself that it’s a business, not a hobby.
A final message from Melanie: If you are thinking about starting your own business, do it!
WBON members represent a diversity of industries, perspectives, and experiences. Be inspired by our Member Spotlight posts, an intimate look at one member, written by another WBON member. This month’s Member Spotlight was written by WBON member Marie Eddy, Eddy Career Services