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How a burnt-out nurse found balance as the owner of a successful business franchise


Just a few years ago, Lisa Hellwege was an overworked, physically sore and exhausted registered nurse who felt run down and disconnected from her family and friends. Despite her passion to help people, the long hours and heavy workload of nursing were taking a toll on Lisa’s life.

She yearned for a different lifestyle that gave her more flexibility and more time with her children but didn’t know where to turn. It wasn’t until she began working with Ear, Nose and Throat consultants that an idea formed that would eventually change her life and the life of others.

Lisa found a gap in the market in relation to earwax removal which led her to create Earworx, a professional ear wax removal franchise, with her partner Scott Marston. Now, as a successful business owner, Lisa finally has the freedom, time and happiness that working as a registered nurse could never provide.

What is the story behind Earworx?

After finishing her nursing degree in 1994, Lisa moved to Brisbane to undertake a graduate program at Princess Alexandria Hospital. Over the next 17 years, she worked in various clinical areas, including pharmaceuticals, all the while raising her three daughters with her then husband.

After her family was badly affected by the 2011 Brisbane floods, they made the decision to move back to Hobart where Lisa, by chance, got the opportunity to work in the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) outpatient clinic at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

After observing the consultants and registrar working, she saw a gap in the market for safe, effective wax removal in Hobart that was a stand-alone service not connected to the hospital. With the encouragement of her partner and intensive research and planning, Lisa dedicated herself to creating the business now known as Earworx.

Earworx, founded in 2016, is a dedicated professional earwax removal service in Hobart, using a procedure that removes wax blockages without the use of water. The procedure, known as micro suction and curettage, uses small instruments and gentle suction to remove blockages. Binocular glasses called ‘loupes’, fitted with bright light, are worn to maintain direct vision into the ear, making it a safe and effective wax removal procedure.

What next for Earworx?

Lisa and Scott plan to franchise the Earworx brand across Australia, owned and run by specially trained, registered nurses. Through Earworx, Lisa wants to help other nurses who might be struggling with the traditional nursing lifestyle as she was, by enabling them to set up their own franchise clinic and become a business owner under the established Earworx banner.

“There are numerous areas of nursing where professionals can apply their skills, and I want to provide an opportunity for nurses to be able to focus on the parts of their job they love,” says Lisa.

Aimed at first-time business owners, with low entry costs as compared to most franchise businesses, Earworx provides registered nurses with the necessary training, a fully operational clinic plus many other benefits along with an opportunity to have both a family-oriented lifestyle, create a business asset and earn a good income.

“So many nurses struggle to find the balance between spending quality time with their families, pursuing their love for nursing and of course, paying the bills,” says Lisa. “Instead of having to dread the next night shift, Earworx offers nurses normal work hours, a friendly and welcoming working environment and the opportunity to use their skills independently to find that equilibrium.”

The success of Earworx in Hobart has given Lisa and Scott the drive to expand across Australia. The business has increased by 45% since its inception two years ago.