Former physiotherapist Sarah Mahoney talks about years of refining her ergonomic desk raise and her motivations to correct a common work injury.
What does your business do?
The Good Use Company sells an ergonomic accessory for the office desk. I actually launched the business as a follow-on from being a clinical physiotherapist treating people with a lot of upper limb dysfunction which was occupational overuse syndrome and that was in the mid-90s.
What was the motivation for starting it?
I was treating a lot of people with symptoms related to their head and neck position. They would come into the physio clinic and have treatment, feel great and go back to work and within hours all the symptoms of arm numbness, tingling and pain came back again so I decided that I would go and look into their offices.
I realised that they were looking to the side of the keyboard or stretching over the keyboard so movements throughout the day were causing problems so no matter what treatment they had they were going back to work and re-introducing the cause of the problem, so I decided to introduce the Good Use programme to teach people in their workplace about movement patterns and how they could change things for themselves.
I realised they actually needed something to put their paperwork on and there were only copy holders so I started my idea of getting a clear plastic product which sat at the rear of the keyboard in front of the monitor - a second tier to work on.
How has your business evolved in the past 10 years?
The programme evolved into a product and the product has continued to evolve. It started out as a sheet of acrylic bent over a wire and then I wanted it to be adjustable so the next step was to put in screw feet. The product did the job of keeping the head and neck in a neutral position and correct posture.
The idea started in 1995 and 1996 was the beginnings of the actual micro desk. In 2002 we started the manufacturing for exporting to Australia and in 2005 we dabbled in injection modelling - quite a long evolution.
The big change in the last 10 years is having my son join us because someone in their mid-30 has useful ideas and ways of working. The internet of course has made a huge difference, I get regular orders from people all around the world.
Our products are now sold in 10 markets. Australia is our major market. Around 10 to 15 per cent of our turnover is from New Zealand.
What are your long term plans for this year?
I like to think that I can keep telling people that they don't have to have pain when they work but the trouble is with the mobile devices becoming more and more prevalent the problem is getting worse. My son in Melbourne came across another product - it's called secure cord - it's a hook and loop strip that you can adjust to the length that you want and it covers cords on the floor - it's a health and safety thing so you don't trip over loose cords, which we are now selling.
What advice do you give others thinking about starting their own business?
You have to be passionate about what you're doing, that's the main thing. Have persistence and know that only 10 per cent of your ideas will work.