Business Link’s Client Feature blogs allow us to highlight some of the many incredible Alberta entrepreneurs we work with, like Andrea House and her business Acupuncture Works!. Andrea has been working with Business Strategist Angela Contardi, as part of the Business Link YEG Business Recovery Program.
We connected with Andrea to ask her a few questions about her business, her journey in entrepreneurship, and her experience with the Recovery Program.
While the YEG Business Recovery Program was designed exclusively for Edmonton BIA businesses, we have a range of one-to-one coaching and strategy options, resources, and programs for business owners and entrepreneurs throughout Alberta.
Q. Tell us about yourself! What is your background?
A. One day, after waking up with an acute case of laryngitis, I decided to try acupuncture for the first time. My acupuncturist, Dr. Amy Lu, was able to get my voice back the very next day! That experience brought me profound healing and a newfound passion for Traditional Chinese Medicine. I fell in love with acupuncture and never looked back.
Q. Tell us about your business and what it does.
A. Acupuncture Works! The name of my business says it all. We provide acupuncture, cupping, herbal medicine, lifestyle advice and a lot more. We also work with other healthcare professionals and exercise specialists to ensure you have the best team possible for your personal wellness goals.
Q. When did you launch your business? What motivated you to start your own business?
A. I started my own business in 2003 because I knew that I wanted to create a place where people could experience deep healing. I knew I wanted to create something unique.
Q. What are you most proud of? What is your biggest success?
A. Acupuncture Works! is a 100% family-owned business. What I am most proud of is that my daughter, a student at the U of A, and my mother, a retired nurse, work at the clinic. It fills me with pride to say that three generations of women work together, offering their very best to their community. Generations taking care of generations. That’s what we’re about.
Q. Was your business impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
A. I think we’re the only business I know that had to get larger in order to survive. Our business was closed for months, but when we reopened, very few people wanted to come downtown. Most people were working from home. When our clients booked, they only wanted to come in the evenings, but we didn’t have enough clinic space to treat them. In order to accommodate the clients that wanted to come, we moved to a larger space within our building and reimagined every aspect of our business.
Q. How did things change for you/how did your business adapt?
A. For 18 years I have been giving all my best energy to my clients, but during the pandemic, our clients started giving back to us. When we moved into our new clinic, clients brought paintings, plants, furniture, wood – you name it! Everyone wanted to see us survive. Also, our landlords have been amazing. We couldn’t have survived without them. When I think of what they have done for us in the past year, I feel very blessed. It’s very moving.
Business Link and the Edmonton Business Improvement Area Council have teamed up to provide support to small businesses in Edmonton as they move forward in a challenging business environment. The YEG Business Recovery Program gives members of the Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in Edmonton access to a dedicated business coach, and exclusive access to webinars and workshops that will cover practical strategies to boost sales revenue, adapt your business, manage cash flow, and HR.
A. My program instructor, Angela, has been more than a business coach. In our first meeting, she connected with me friend to friend – giving me honest advice and encouraging me to be proud of what my family has built. Angela helped me to identify key areas of growth for my business and created a program I could follow. Having a highly skilled mentor has made a huge difference to our business. I am already seeing an increase in our sales.
Q. Would you recommend the YEG Business Recovery Program/Business Coaching offered through Business Link to others? Why?
A. I would highly recommend the YEG Business Recovery Program/Business Coaching offered through Business Link to anyone who owns their own business. The program has increased my confidence as a business owner. To be honest, I always thought that business coaching was meant for larger businesses. I am proof that even if you own a small business, or even if you feel you have no time – this program can help you.
Q. What other resources have you found helpful in growing your business?
A. Right now, I am working with a University of Alberta School of Business student through a free program called Making Edmonton Digital. I have also been reading the Business Link blog (a lot!) and I highly recommend checking out Tad Hargrave’s website. I always thought marketing was too much like bragging. I felt uncomfortable telling people about my business. I am learning that it’s ok to tell the world that I love acupuncture!
Q. What advice would you share with others who want to start or grow their own business?
A. What I would say is don’t let the pandemic kill your passion. Edmonton is a very special city. It’s a place where your business coach treats you like a sister, your landlords ask what they can do to help, and your clients bring you items from their homes to decorate your new clinic space. It’s a city where a member of the Canadian Army offers to carry in your landlord’s commercial doors because they’re too heavy… and while that’s happening, another Edmontonian walks by and says, “Do you need a hand?”
It’s easy to say that running your own business is hard. It’s true, being an entrepreneur is incredibly challenging, but during the pandemic, I’ve never seen so many people turn to one another and offer help. This has been a really tough time, to be sure, but my advice is this: if you’re passionate about something, make it your business!
We want to acknowledge that in the province of Alberta we are situated on the traditional territories of Treaties 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10, ancestral homeland of diverse First Nations groups, Métis and Indigenous people whose ancestors have walked this land since time immemorial and whose histories, languages and cultures continue to influence our vibrant community. We pay respects to the Indigenous people of this land, past, present and future, while recognizing their cultural heritage, beliefs, and relationship to the land on which we reside.