Voluntas: The joy of entrepreneurship

Text: Kreetta Haaslahti Photos: Julia Hannula

Two smiling entrepreneur ladies meet me at the cosy premises of Fysioterapia Voluntas, located in Pori. Their sunny disposition provides a tough challenge for the spring-like light phenomenon bursting through the windows. The atmosphere is positive and I instantly feel welcome. And that is no coincidence. 

As these physical therapists talk, two things rise above the rest – a customer-focused approach and customer service. 
– In our view, physical therapy can also be an experience. Customers pay us for the time we spend together and we want them to get added value for their investment, explains Pauliina Haapala. 
- Even though the treatment is clinical, the treatment environment can be aesthetic and cosy, adds Mirka Väkiparta.

It goes without saying that these women have a passion for their work. But how did everything start? 
- We worked for the same employer for a long time. Basically everything was fine but we started to yearn for professional growth and specialised studies were not enough to feed our development needs. We required more radical challenges, Haapala and Väkiparta reminisce.

Further studies and a joint company

The women shared an idea of what they wanted to do and how. 
- We decided that if we were both admitted to SAMK’s Master's programme in rehabilitation, we would start our own company. 

And so began the journey of growth. Countless hours spent together on homework forged a connection between the ladies - not only as skilled professionals in their field, but also as entrepreneurs. At the very beginning of their studies, the ladies found SAMK's enterprise accelerator, which helped them to combine their studies with the planning and development of their future business. 
- Every homework assignment was woven in to serve our future entrepreneurial operations, Haapala says. 
- The accelerator also gave us important mental support and confidence to start a company, praises Väkiparta.

Kauniisti sisustetut hoitohuoneet kutsuvat viihtymään © Ft Voluntas

Clarification of the concept

In addition to SAMK's enterprise accelerator, the ladies thank Prizztech for its role in the beginning stages of their business. The professionals of the development company were available for long-term assistance in order to polish the business plan. 
- We ended up pondering our own work and activities very carefully and from many different angles. At the same time, the vision of our future company became clearer and clearer, states Väkiparta. 
- For example, the carefully crafted business plan made it easier to apply for financing. We have been given everything we have sought.

Ft Voluntas Oy was added to the company register in December 2013 and the business licence, granted by the Regional State Administrative Agencies, became valid in February 2014. We wanted to write our thesis while working, but this did not pan out the way we expected. 
– We were fully booked by May so we were unable to proceed with our studies.

However, additional motivation to finish our thesis was created by participation in a tender by Kela, as one of the requirements was the completion of a higher educational degree. 
- In December 2014, we worked nights and were able to finish our thesis. Both our families' and our own ability to cope was truly tested at that time, Väkiparta says.

The thesis paved the way for Voluntas' customer-focused interior design and the premises now serve all kinds of customer needs, from physical therapy to massage and rehabilitation of young athletes. As the ladies were accepted as service providers in Kela's outpatient rehabilitation program, the share of demanding medical rehabilitation has become significant.

"The fact that we were fully booked so fast was a complete surprise."

A look into our own well-being

Voluntas' first year of operations went by quickly. There was a lot of work and we had wrapped up our studies. In January 2015, the energetic ladies decided to step things up by starting to go to the gym in the mornings. At the same time, they still worked hard. 
– We ran into a wall as we both started to experience bouts of illness. So, we thought that maybe we'll be okay with fewer activities. We decided to slow down and focus on enjoying work, Haapala says.

Due to this decision, the ladies stopped eating cold, ready-made meals in their cars. 
- Nowadays, hot lunches are delivered to us and we strive to eat together whenever we can, the ladies note.

Entrepreneurship is something absolutely incredible

These ladies now wave aside the suggestion that being an entrepreneur is tough.
- It is so fantastic to come to work every morning. We have the best premises and the best customers, smiles Haapala.

The detailed planning work before the company was started also provides financial rewards. 
– We are thoroughly familiar with the expense structure and other financial matters, so we do not need to feel insecure about those things, ponders Väkiparta.

However, one thing managed to surprise them as entrepreneurs. 
- The fact that we were fully booked so fast was a complete surprise, the ladies laugh.