Graham Howes, Managing Director of Edge Hypno

15 JUN 2010

Graham Howes is the founder of Edge Hypno. Graham attended our “Low Cost, Fast Growth Marketing” event in Ipswich last week, and has kindly answered a few questions for us regarding his business.

What does your business do?

I am a Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner but also an actor teacher and playwright. I offer a broad range of therapies from stop smoking and weight loss to fears like flying and phobias like spiders. I also help with stress management, panic attacks and anxiety. Two of my biggest areas are helping the sexually and physically abused to get their life back and I also offer the Hypnotic Gastric Band for the clinically obese (BMI over 30) which is one of the few effective ways to lose weight without dieting — diets just make people obsess about what they cannot eat and once they stop dieting they go back to the old ways of eating. I teach them new ways of eating and change their relationship with food. I also work with them therapeutically to address the issues why they overeat — comfort eating is a clear example of eating when stressed or upset — give them other strategies to deal with the stress and they don’t need to comfort eat. There are many different reasons and the psychological help allied to good nutritional advice and more exercise and controlling portion size has lead many clients to lose 7 lbs a week and then  maintain that weight loss with ease.

How did you decide to start it?

I was in FAME in the West End and many colleagues were suffering: The Director told them to lose weight or stop smoking because it affected their dancing — some had lost confidence or had difficulty remembering lines. I was looking for something to fill in time when resting — as we euphemistically call the times of unemployment. I specialized in Performers, Singers, Dancers, Media people and Models. Before long I had a clinic in Harley Street — but the rates combined with my wanting to escape the rat race of London lead to me settling on the Suffolk and Essex border. My business Edge of the World Hypnotherapy and NLP was titled after my first play which I wrote about the poet John Clare — the prose piece he wrote about “getting out of his knowledge” was about perception shift — and this is what Hypnosis facilitates.

What were your toughest challenges?

My first client announced they were a sex abuser! That was a tough one — fortunately it was all known and he was on a register and at least he had the courage to try to address his issues. One of the hardest problems is the sheer turnover of clients — if you are good you cure them and they go away but due to the sensitive nature of some problems they will not exactly want to advertise that they have seen you. Client confidentiality also prevents us from using testimonials — so marketing is a constant challenge. The other fact is that some Hypnotherapists find that it is more profitable to train new Hypnotherapists and this has lead to a glut of newly qualified people. Many don’t succeed because every client is different and you have to be able to do more than just hypnotise people — you then have to try to help them deal with their problem. The other tough problem we face as an industry is clawing back our credibility — many people think that they will be doing the funky chicken and lose control. I have to reassure them that the perception of stage hypnosis shows, or TV and literature, which makes them think erroneously that we “control” them is wrong. A good Hypnotherapist works with their client and they are aware at all times of what is happening — anything that is against their core beliefs will be rejected. I have however often surprise them when they realize what has been underpinning some problem that they have had.

What advice do you offer to fellow entrepreneurs?

You have to hold on to your vision — as a writer I was once asked to change a show about Gracie Fields — each piece of advice contradicted the other. Take good advice and have the humility to know when you are wrong – but have that gut instinct to stick to your vision. You must also keep working on your business — I think it is rare that you can coast. With my actor hat on — I have been acting for 32 years and I still have much to learn — I never think you can know it all — only a fool does that! It is important to keep visible — people do forget and if you have become complacent they will go elsewhere

Which entrepreneurs do you admire most?

Mike Southon — I have known Mike for many years. He writes in the FT on entrepreneurship and has written the Beermat books which are very accessible and he works tirelessly around the globe promoting Entrepreneurship. I worked with him in all his early companies. Mike is a closet actor/singer and used to employ me and “Josh” – Ian Bleasdale – from Casualty in his shows.

He also used me to work in Sales and Marketing and old school style I had to call around companies to find out who needed Unix Training — the decision makers were often hidden away behind Rottweiler Secretaries who were clearly instructed to block all sales calls — frustrating because when you did speak to the decision maker they mostly actually wanted the service! The American firms were better at listening and giving an instant decision — which was all you wanted. We have gone through a perverse cycle of Sales people trying to sell people stuff they don’t want in an untargeted way so this has messed it up for the genuinely useful call from someone who has the answer to your “pain”. Mike is very entertaining and very clear and has terrific experience. Having now seen Doug Richard in action I would add him to that small but perfectly formed group of useful teachers who have something to teach budding businesses.