‘Mumpreneur’ finalist, Helen Whait, is the SA mum breaking all the rules in business

The OT turned entrepreneur is changing the way Occupational Therapists manage work-life balance with her business model, ActivOT.

Here at Glam Adelaide, we love to see South Australians doing amazing things. We’re huge advocates for supporting local and love nothing more than a success story from one of our own, which leads me to the next Adelaidean taking on the world.

Thirty years ago, Helen Whait completed her Bachelor of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy at UniSA. After ten years working as an occupational therapist, she felt the pull of private practice and, in 2002, started her own business.

Like most business owners, the journey opened Helen’s eyes to the opportunities and pitfalls of running your own business, namely the loneliness, potential for burnout and the need for a good support network. These challenges were heightened in health care, where the focus is on the delivery of services and patient outcomes, rather than the business itself.

What came from this was a lightbulb moment that changed the course of her career.

What if Helen could create a business model that would support other occupational therapists to set up their own practices, while providing exceptional care for her patient?

And so, that’s what Helen did.

In 2012, Helen founded Australia’s first and only occupational therapy franchise business – ActivOT – investing in health professionals and turning them into successful business owners.

Her vision was to provide genuine support and mentorship to the therapists, while also practising occupational therapy the way it was always meant to be practised – with a focus on the whole person– without the unnecessary bureaucracy, KPIs, and paperwork that achieves nothing for the client.

Using a unique business model that invests in its people and creates growth, Helen takes practising occupational therapists and turns them into successful business owners.

“We don’t fit firmly into the franchisee world or traditional allied health industry. We’ve found by supporting other therapists to overcome the common pitfalls of business ownership, we’re changing the game,” says Helen.

 “The results are better client outcomes and better supported, less overwhelmed occupational therapists. It’s win-win.”

 Now in its 10th year, ActivOT is one of the most successful allied health franchises and is continuing to make positive impacts across the country as more and more health professionals seek out better work-life balance in a post-pandemic world.

 The improved business processes implemented by Helen have seen wait times as low as 4-6 weeks for ActivOT services in comparison to 4-6 months for competitors and her franchisees earning more per hour with improved work-life balance.

 “We now have 50 occupational therapists around Australia and are growing rapidly,” she says.

“At the end of the day, we’re driven by our values and our belief in our occupational therapists – our incredible growth is simply a happy by-product.

 “Put simply, it shows that innovative franchises, like ActivOT, can put people first and achieve fantastic business outcomes at the same time.”

 A 2022 AusMumpreur finalist, the winner of the AusMumpreur Health and Business Category, a National Allied Health Awards Finalist for Allied Health Leadership and Management Excellence and a finalist in the Franchise Council of Australia’s Excellence in Franchising Awards, Helen’s incredible work is now being recognised on a national scale and we can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

 For more information on ActivOT, visit the website or follow along on Facebook.

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