Lessons of Growth and Commitment from a Rural-Based Practice

Experiencing growth in a rural-based practice isn’t as different to growth in metropolitan areas than what you may think. The values, commitment, and level of passion is the same for both types of business, no matter the location. 

For Lisa and Ross Archer, building an allied health business was all about hard work. Being a rural-based practice meant that their commitment to community had always been a huge driving force.

Their solopreneur story is inspiring for all allied health business owners, and I’m so excited for you all to hear it in the newest episode of the PPMP podcast. 

They give us so many golden bits of knowledge and information that are valuable to start-ups and decades-old businesses alike.

Gazing at rich greenery and rolling mountains from their windows, Lisa and Ross’ practice is based in Yarra Valley, Victoria. Growth has snowballed in recent years, in many ways thanks to the development of the town. 

Strong Minds Psychology provides psychology services to people of all ages. From children, to adolescents, to adults – they do it all.

At SMP, their values revolve around providing a supportive and compassionate environment. They are all about building-up their community, helping people to develop skills, working on mental health, and learning in a positive environment. 


Let’s take a look at some key factors that played a role in growing their rural-based practice:


Creating a Team in a Rural-Based Practice

Establishing a sense of family within a team is a healthy idea for any business. You don’t necessarily need a family business like Lisa and Ross’, because creating a family-atmosphere is separate to that.

For SMP, recruiting someone meant bringing that person into the family they created. In order to give back to their community the best they could, they realised the importance of building a tight-knit group that loves where they work.

While professional skills obviously came into play, Lisa and Ross trusted their gut. The hiring process was multilayered, because it’s not all about professional abilities. At the end of the day, Lisa and Ross did and continue to do what feels right.

Another great lesson we can learn from SMP is to shatter the belief that being rural means it’s impossible to recruit. That’s simply not the case.

As a result of displaying your commitment to the community, people can start to relate and admire your mission. This is because they can see your genuine care for what’s going on outside your own doors.


Promote Team Values and Culture

One of the best things Lisa and Ross do at their clinic is fostering team values through fun activities. Having fun is a big part of strengthening team culture, because everyone can be themselves and chat about their lives. 

They go to fun-runs, host “clean up Australia day” events, and always make sure to meet up for lunch or drinks afterwards.

Someone from their customer service team even became their Social Officer. She’s in charge of getting everyone together for these awesome team-building activities.

Carpooling is another important part of feeding into their sustainability values. Living in a rural area, they pick each other up to go to work and head home, thus having open conversations in the car ride each way.


Reclaim Your Financial Confidence

Just like the mountains they can see from their windows, Lisa and Ross have done a mountain of work when it comes to numbers and financials in their business.

At first, appointment cancellations and the thought of losing money was daunting, because they didn’t know what they would do. There were points throughout their journey that crossed different levels of thinking about what was happening in their business.

Overtime, they were able to gain confidence through fully understanding their financial positions. 

Basically, there’s no use in thinking the opposite of what is actually happening. If you think things are going badly when they’re actually going well, it can hinder your ability to move forward.

Lisa and Ross recognised the importance of being able to forecast certain areas. They see what’s coming up, understand what the numbers mean, pinpoint anything missing, and learnt how to reorganise.  


Commit to Teaching and its Benefits

Anyone who has an interest in psychology or is studying it will know there are multiple pathways to get into the industry. While this is a positive, it also makes it complex.

Lisa and Ross became committed to training provisional psychologists. Each week they are dedicated to supervising the budding psychologists, thoroughly editing their reports, and generally helping to build their skills.

Furthermore, there is so much learning that goes on because of the diverse range of presentations and people from all walks of life.

Not only is their program an amazing learning opportunity for the students, but it’s also a usually learning tool for Lisa and Ross. Being surrounded by people with different personalities and backgrounds creates an exciting environment. They enjoy the chance to sit and listen, hence learning along the way.

Not to mention the student vibe they get in the building, which keeps things fresh and interesting. 


Silver Linings to the Pandemic

Even though COVID-19 brought plenty of challenges, Lisa and Ross managed to find a silver lining. They discovered opportunities for innovation, in addition to the difficulties. 

Telehealth has been a big part of psychology for many years, but during the pandemic it became especially important. It opened up more possibilities for gaining current and future clients. They could give video-call support to those out further than their Yarra Valley clinic, thus saving money and time.



I think we can learn a lot from Lisa and Ross’ story. They encourage us to give things a go, and that it’s okay to learn things along the way. Just because you may run the show, doesn’t mean you can’t learn as you grow! Work hard, don’t give up, and don’t take your eye of your goals.

Hear Lisa and Ross share their whole story by listening to Episode 150 of the PPMP podcast. Discover how they navigate being business and life partners, their future plans, and more.

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