Smart50 Awards 2016

49 Balance! Healthcare

Revenue

$9.1 million

Growth

35.6%

Founder

Catherine Gunn, 51

Head office

Springwood, NSW

Year founded

2009

Employees

80

Industry

Healthcare and medical

Website

www.balancehealthclinic.com.au

Balance! Healthcare GUNN KateAt number 49 on this year’s Smart50 is Catherine Gunn’s Balance! Healthcare, a business that specialises in providing community focused health care services.

The Queensland-based business currently employs 80 people, and has grown 35.6% over the past three financial years to record revenue of $9.1 million in 2015-16.

Gunn told SmartCompany she wanted to start a medical centre that was “proactive and patient centred”.

“Most medical centres are reactive and only want to see you when you are ill.  I wanted integrated team care for all patients,” Gunn says.

Gunn attributes resilience and persistence as the only reasons Balance exists today, recounting early struggles obtaining finance from the banks, despite previously operating a number of other businesses.

“Despite being a successful business person, having started many smaller businesses before, as a single mother I was discriminated against by the banks,” she says.

“I had to downsize my projects dramatically, despite having property as security. Resilience and persistence is the only reason my business exists today.”

Like many other business owners, Gunn has also experienced first hand the importance of steady cashflow. Reflecting on that challenge, she says she now realises she should have launched one health centre at a time, rather than three at once. As a result, Gunn says she is now “more circumspect” about growth.

Her advice to other business owners is to not grow too quickly. Instead, take time to build on your success, she says.

“I would also say that if you are going to go into business with anyone, that you should ensure you have worked successfully with them for a long-time before signing up for the long-haul. Your values need to be aligned for the long-term success of the business,” she says.

Gunn has an exit plan for her business, but it’s for the long-term, believing her “best financial outcome” will come from a 15-year timeline.

“I plan to pay off my commercial loans in the next 10 years, and in 15 years sell the land, buildings and businesses,” Gunn says.

“I am approached regularly to sell, but having assessed the financial and the tax implications, I believe the best financial outcome for me will be to sell in the 15 year timeframe.”

In a world of online and social media advertising, Gunn has had a lot of success with a more traditional approach: two simple billboards along the Bruce Highway, which she says she “loves”.

“These generate a lot of business, as they announce that we are open seven days a week, and a lot of people come and find us on weekends because of these signs,” she says.

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