For This BC Entrepreneur, the Toughest Part of Starting a Business Was Learning To Be a Boss
Nina Zetchus owns a therapeutic floating business in Chilliwack, BC. Floating is the practice of immersing your body in a shallow pool of heavily salted water. “You lie there, you’re buoyant, but you also feel like you’re kind of floating in space,” says Nina Zetchus, owner and CEO of Luna Float in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
Zetchus describes floating as “a scientific approach to relaxation” that can have mental, physical and emotional benefits. She opened Luna Float in 2017 because she wanted to float more, as she finds it helps her manage anxiety and stress, “and I just thought that our community could use some of that as well,” she says.
At Luna Float, clients come in for 90 minute float therapy sessions where they are immersed in 11 inches of water with 1100 pounds of epsom salts. The spa also has a NeuroSpa chair which offers similar benefits, but uses multi-frequency acoustic vibrations, light and music. “We see a lot of people who come in for anxiety and stress, they just need to help improve their sleep quality, and maybe chronic pain, whether that’s arthritis or fibromyalgia,” says Zetchus.
Here’s how Zetchus transformed something that she personally loved, into a thriving business:
How did you know that floating could be a viable business venture for you?
My background was helping other entrepreneurs with business plans and financial literacy. When I started my own business plan to test viability, it was very difficult to find accurate numbers because it’s such a new industry. I just really went with my gut and intuition. I really believe in the practice. And so, while maybe the numbers didn’t necessarily look like it was a very profitable endeavor, it was a passion project.
How did you go about making Luna Float a reality?
We opened in October 2017, but we incorporated a year before that, and I was very fortunate to find a contractor who liked floating, who knew what floating was to begin with. We’d go to different float centers throughout B.C. and just introduce ourselves, see what they did, what we would potentially do differently, and kind of adapted it that way. We made friends with a float center owner in South Surrey who helped us with how we would actually run a float center business. It’s a very collaborative, welcoming community.
How did you put the word out and find customers?
We were worried, because we were the first and only float center in Chilliwack, that people wouldn’t know that we existed and they might not know what floating is. So we went on social media about a year before we even opened and just tried to get buzz going. Luckily there were people in Chillliwack who already were traveling out to the city, so driving over an hour, to go float. So they really helped us, because they started getting the word out. And then I think the location helped just because we got a lot of walk-by traffic and when we were eventually open, we had people who were walking by and would just come in and ask: “What’s this?” We would give them a tour. Some people right then and there bought a float or bought a membership.
You sat on a lending committee. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs trying to get financing for their projects?
Having worked at a credit union in my past life, numbers are huge. So when you’re working on a business plan, you need to know what your competitive and comparative advantages are, but you also need to know your numbers, your cash flow, what that’s going to look like on a daily basis. And sometimes, you don’t have to be perfect because you might not be able to see the future, but the idea is that you’re looking into it and projecting, kind of like a worst case scenario, best case scenario, and then maybe something that’s more realistic in between. Just having those numbers, you’re going to build confidence and then you’re going to make the lender feel more confident in you, as well.
What’s the most difficult part of running your business?
I think the biggest learning curve for me was being a boss.
You have five employees now. How did you learn how to be a boss?
I learnt how to be a boss by remembering what I liked and didn’t like myself as an employee. I wanted to be a boss who listens to their employees and see them for the unique individuals that they are not just a number or cog in the wheel. I want my employees to feel empowered, fulfilled, and supported. I support their growth in and outside of the business. We have been fortunate to have a great group of people who have helped Luna Float grow!
How do you balance entrepreneurship and self-care?
We are in the wellness industry as a float center, so you’d think that it would be obvious that I would maintain my own wellness, but I definitely had to do some check-ins. I was burning out, which is kind of the whole reason I started this business. So for me it’s floating and just booking those appointments. It’s that saying, you know you can’t pour from an empty cup. Make time for yourself, because if you burn out, then no one’s going to be running your business.
What do you consider your biggest business success so far?
I would say my greatest business success to date would be just being open this long. Just being. Just existing. And I think keeping the energy up when you first open a business, you’re high energy, it’s a lot of excitement. And I’m proud to say that, while not every day is the same, that I still have that energy and passion to spread the word of floating. So that’s my success.
To celebrate Small Business Week in October 2019, watch the Startup & Slay digital video series featuring six Canadian companies founded by diverse women entrepreneurs. This special project is produced by How She Hustles, with proud sponsor CIBC in partnership with Futurpreneur Canada and Ryerson University. Help us share these stories online with hashtag #startupandslay and don’t forget to tag @howshehustles. We’d love to hear how you Startup & Slay, too!