Real Life: The things that build my (nutrition) business

We sat down to sign ALL the papers, making it official that we owned a piece of property. A house for our growing family. A yard for our high-energy pup. A front door that we won’t share with anyone else. An extra BATHROOM! The things that I know we don’t need, per se, but will be very nice to have here soon.

Our loan number stared back at us, with its new monthly mortgage payment, and oh, we also still owned a condo and about to put that on the market. I was 14 weeks pregnant, 36 weeks into running a new business on my own, and approximately one hour into feeling like, DAMN, I have got to get my shit together.

It may sound like this wasn’t well planned. That’s not entirely untrue.

The baby was “planned”, as much as you can plan to get pregnant. (A little, SURE, but it’s not a guarantee.) We’ve had Banana pup for one year now, so, at the time of signing these papers and adulting hard, she was a big deciding factor.

But we weren’t looking for a house, at the moment. We thought, someday, it would be nice to have a little more space and a yard. Someday it would be nice to have more than one bathroom, for probably obvious reasons. Someday it would also be nice if my income was more predictable and consistent. But that someday didn’t feel like NOW, quite yet.

My business was only about six months old.

I wasn’t making enough money to feel comfortable. (Like, HA, so far from that!) I wasn’t paying much attention to my business plan. I was starting to feel stuck in this low income (for me) range, but truth be told, wasn’t doing much about it.

Then we signed (a thousand) papers saying: “Here is your loan payment and how much you’ll pay back each month please and thank you (but actually you don’t have much of a choice you did this to yourselves)!”

It was motivation I shouldn’t have needed, but it did the trick.

I started meeting with an accountability partner once every other week. She also has a small business, lives near me, and goes to the same coffee shop almost every week day. It’s a good fit! She also has two small humans, so she knows and understands the timeline I’m up against.

She said, “Do you have a business plan?” And I was like LOLZ. Sort of. I mean, YES, I wrote one in February when I was arrogant about this process and actually had little-to-no idea what I was doing.

So, she suggested, let’s make a new business plan. A six and a twelve-month plan, that includes maternity “leave” and how you’ll prepare for, and work through, that. It was incredibly helpful. I scoff a bit at that maternity leave “plan,” but it’s there and is a small source of comfort as we think about his paternity leave and visitors and projects.

One year into this business, I’m finally starting to get it.

It has not been smooth sailing, but it has never felt impossible. Our budget is tight, and what we did have for “fun” has largely gone to “house adulting.” My business plan changed at least three times, but there’s a common thread that I finally stopped ignoring.

I stopped trying to plan for income-driven projects, and instead went for passion-driven. Oh, and I finally started using systems that make my days and weeks a little more efficient. (E.g. This lovely online scheduler.)

I asked: What do I LOVE doing?

Who do I love talking to? Where can I leverage my story, my experience, and my work? Who does it help?

I love writing,
I love talking to you and hearing YOUR story.
I love connecting with fellow RDs and feeling a little less isolated in both private practice and practicing the non- or anti-diet approach.

For reference: My original business plan was centered largely around group coaching experiences. Why? It provides a higher income potential and larger reach. Well, that’s true IF you do it well and are patient. It’s not true if you’re not excited about it, don’t know how to market programs well, or try something that makes no sense (for you).

I was scared of doing too much 1:1 client work. I was scared I would burn out, wouldn’t have enough people to work with, and wouldn’t always know the right thing to say to one person, in the moment they needed me. I made a list of fears, and realized what was holding me back. And what would happen if I stopped letting that happen?

I love my 1:1 client work.
I love offering a place where they can share stories if/when they’re ready, with Lane 9 Project.
I love working with runners.

By trial and error, my original plan did result in two group coaching things that I really do love and have kept because they make sense: Fit Fueling for Active Women, and my run coaching team. I think there will be more to add to that, when the timing’s right.

I love learning from my fellow dietitians, and my clients, and the RDs-to-be who aren’t afraid to take a different path.

The podcast was NOT of the plan, but it’s a huge piece of my work now.

And it has resulted in a series of webinars that allow me to give back to the dietitian community in ways I wish I had had access to as a young RD, or an intern, or even a student. It has given me yet another space to talk about taking a non-diet approach, navigating a nontraditional path, and working to generate more conversation around women’s health.

Register to watch one of the RD Real Talk Webinars

And soon, the podcast will take a deep dive into Intuitive Eating.

In January, I’ll crash right through all the diet-bullshit-noise with 10 other dietitians, in a 10-part Intuitive Eating series.

An extension of that series: free 1:1 coaching calls with people who are struggling to embrace, or practice, IE in daily life or work. If you want to be on one of those free coaching episodes: apply (before November 17) here!

At times: Building a business looks and feels a little like this.
At times: Building a business looks and feels a little like this. Chaotic, messy, but getting somewhere.

Here we are.

The tiny human is 29 weeks grown, the house has been ours for four months (but, um, we don’t live there yet), and since the time we signed those papers, my monthly income has tripled. Not because I’m doing anything radical—I barely changed any of my fees, and I’m not doing much with “passive” income (that’s a post for another day).

I know that writing things like “I tripled my income!” is V obnoxious. But I say it to let you know that it’s possible, without selling your soul. It’s possible because I made small changes to be more consistent, efficient and strategic, and honest.

I started writing more often, both here and in my weekly newsletter. I know who my “ideal” client is, meaning the person I can and want to help the most. I work harder to do that. I pitched my ideas to publications. And I structured my days in a way that works for me.

I connected with people—the number one tip shared in our nontraditional career webinar—and put myself out there. I took one of Katie Proctor’s webinars, partnered with Kelly for our Fit Fueling course (which we’ve modified twice to improve), and I reach out to dietitians ALL the time to say, “Hey, wanna chat?”  

And I’m here, keeping it real with you. Business don’t build themselves. And they can’t be built with just two hands, in just two months or weeks or even years. They need time to grow, too.

Comments

  1. Kim
    November 2, 2017

    Thanks for the reminder, friend. And keep on crushin this thang! xo

  2. November 2, 2017

    Love this Heather! Sharing the journey from the BEGINNING is so much fun not only for you to look back on but to inspire others because goodness knows none of us *really* have it together. I like the house example 😉

  3. November 2, 2017

    Pumped for you, Heather 🙂 Keep doing what you love! Great lesson for every RD, entrepreneur, and… like, everyone!

  4. November 3, 2017

    Love hearing you share things like this that are inspiring for all us “newer” entreprenours. I’m so glad I’ve found your podcast and breath of fresh air presence in the dietetic world.

  5. November 3, 2017

    Congratulations to everything!!! The family, business, life!!! All of it. I just discovered you from the Runners Connect podcast and am totally thrilled that I found an RD who actually believes in intuitive eating and is anti dieting. So excited for your path and family 🙂

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