Thriving in Business: Rituals, huddles, core values and food— heaps of food | HerCanberra

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Thriving in Business: Rituals, huddles, core values and food— heaps of food

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In this three-part series, owner of Capital Hydrotherapy Kirra Rankin will explore the tools and tips she’s used to build a successful business over the last decade. Spoiler alert—it involves a bake-off.

Do you have a thriving business and a big vision? We do.

I established Capital Hydrotherapy with $80.00 in my personal savings nearly 10 years ago. The business started with six hydrotherapy sessions a week, and one practitioner—me.

We now host 200 hydrotherapy sessions a week and a tribe of 16 dedicated teammates. It’s safe to say we’re through the first five-year “survival” zone. 200…this number still gives me pins and needles.

In Australia, it is estimated that one in three new small businesses fail in their first year of operation, two out of four by the end of the second year, and three out of four by the fifth year. That is alarming (and motivating), and always in the back of my mind. Note—these statistics we’re estimated before the COVID crisis hit.

When it comes to looking after a business during a worldwide pandemic, I love this analogy:

Your business should be like a moving ship. If it’s moving, it’s easy to control. If it’s stagnant, it’s impossible to steer. Keeping a constant watch is important on your ship too—which isn’t easy with three little kids to nurture.

Watching your mindset.

Watching your team’s wellness.

Watching cashflow.

When I’m not navigating my moving ship, I‘m navigating a fantastic mess at home: a six-year-old, a four-year-old, and a one-year-old.

I’m surprised I’m not a statistic, like 1/3 of start-up businesses. Having three C-Sections in four years (one an emergency), long pregnancies that dragged out to 42 weeks, a late miscarriage at 16 weeks for one pregnancy, over three years of breastfeeding and having grandparents who live in Brisbane could very well push me into a statistic zone—but I’m not, and I’d like to share with you how we’ve made it happen.

Being a mum in business is easy on the good days, and on the hard days…well, this article isn’t about the hard days. Over the next three Thriving in Business articles, I’d like to share some strategies I’ve adopted to keep my ship moving, and my mind at peace (most of the time).

  • Part One: Building a trusting and trustworthy team around you
  • Part Two: Investing time and money into the teams personal and professional development; “the Hydro Bubble” and scheduling alignment catch-ups.
  • Part Three: Time blocking, celebrating small wins and long-term vision planning—an easy week every four weeks and one relaxed day a week.

Part One: Building a trusting and trustworthy team around you


When I first created Capital Hydrotherapy and Exercise Physiology, I didn’t have a team. It was just me. I owned a pug, and had no kids.

Priorities changed for me when I had my first-born six years ago. I needed help and I needed support if I was to build my little Hydrotherapy empire.

At university, we don’t learn how to manage a team and different personalities; we don’t learn about the hiring process, we don’t learn about Xero, and employee entitlements, so it’s been a steep learning curve for me.

One thing that hasn’t changed is my vision and core values—I have them posted all over the clinic. It’s a great reminder (especially when you’re having a tough day). I always remind myself “Don’t lose sight of your vision”.

Addressing your core values with the team regularly is essential. We address them at the team induction, we have Core Value posters in every room for a gentle reminder abd every day we live them through our daily huddle.

Here are our core values:

  • Create a happy and supportive environment
  • Go above and beyond
  • Respect peoples time and goals
  • Be open and inspire personal and professional growth
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff

Do you know your businesses core values off by heart?


Short, sharp, positive, fun.

The 15-minute standing team huddle is our go-to ritual. The scheduled daily team huddle is our best form of communication and support—it connects the team & makes them feel a part of something bigger. It’s called community!

It’s a daily “positive pulse check” on each team member from the team leader.

The key is a daily ritual.

We always start the huddle with expressing gratitude (something we’re grateful for).

Essential huddle points:

  • Always standing
  • Always inclusive
  • Has a daily rhythm
  • It’s a ritual
  • Time-efficient
  • Engaging

Always starts on time—always starts with gratitude

Our team huddle is organised, and the team leader always has the main points written down. Here’s a sneak peek of the structure of our huddle:

For the first five minutes we go around the group and share our gratitude. Living in the present moment is the key. Especially in this ‘Insta’ world we live in!

Then we move on to the admin points. Always lighthearted, to the point and “short and sharp”.

We never solve problems in a standing huddle (that’s for “off pool deck”).

Then we share new session ideas (if appropriate)

Lastly, we deal with the patient handovers, helping juniors with a patients’  treatment pathway and preparing practitioners for if there’s a new patient in their group.

Do you have a daily team huddle?


Twice a week, I schedule time in my diary to give my teammates a call/text, or a relaxed friendly email. It’s a ritual of mine.

There’s no agenda and there are no objectives—just a casual wellness check-in. Making sure they are looking after themselves. My main concerns are sleep, exercise, gut health, scheduled time out and mindset.

I don’t know many businesses that encourage taking holidays, but we do. Time out keeps our team fresh, happy and supported.


Building a positive fun team culture takes time. It takes food. It takes grazing platters. It takes effort.

Every Tuesday for over four years we’ve had a scheduled bake-off and one team member bakes for everyone. It’s a great way to bond the team, nourish our bellies after hours in the water, and we all stop for a moment and talk about life and have a relaxed laugh. It’s all about scheduling a ritual.

Notice the pattern here? Everything is a ritual.

Part Two of Thriving in Business involves more rituals, team bonding ideas, celebrating small wins and schedules. Do you have a daily ritual at work?

Photography: Brent Courtney-Frost.

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