Its’ really hard to believe that I started G&G Nutrition Co. 2 years ago. I have come a long way since quitting my full-time job!
Running your own business is so rewarding but also a lot of work. Each day is a learning experience and I am constantly growing and changing as I go along.
There was a quote in my planner that really resonated with me last week:
“Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours” – Zig Zigler
If you are a registered dietitian (or anyone really) who dreams of owning your own practice, I am here to tell you that you can do it. And you can do it in a way that works for you. You just have to be smart, look in the right places for advice, and learn to live outside of your comfort zone.
At first I was going to write a blog post all about tips I’ve learned over the past year, but truthfully that feels a little inauthentic. If you are looking for a post with these types of tips then you can find them here:
- What I’ve learned in 6 months of starting a nutrition private practice
- 1 year anniversary of starting a nutrition private practice
- Tools I use in my RD private practice
If I’m being honest, the past year has been really hard for me. Between getting married, losing Lily, selling our house and getting into a home renovation, I really felt like I spent a lot of 2018 keeping my head above water and trying not to let the chaos in my person life spill over into my work. While I think I did a good job with that for the most part, the entire experience has really caused me to reflect on my goals and what I want from G&G in the long run. So I wanted to share some changes I have made or will be making in the future.
Shifting my business goals
When I started my nutrition private practice, I just pictured my overall goal to be making as much money as possible. This made sense 2 years ago since I had always worked in clinical – an area where I always felt overworked, underpaid and under appreciated.
Late last year I decided to get a business coach, and she asked me what was important to me with my business. When I responded with, “Uh – to make a lot of money?” she reminded me that goals don’t have to just be financial. They can also be about life, happiness, family and freedom.
And then I had an “ah hah” moment. Making money is important to me up until a point (being able to make as much money as I was making at my old job and financially contributing to our life), but beyond that I much more value my time.
Earlier this month, I washed a load of dirty laundry for a family member who had been in the hospital for over 2 weeks. I was able to take the laundry home, wash everything and bring it back to the hospital within a few hours in the middle of the day. She was thankful. Being able to do things like this, run an errand or end my workday at 3pm makes life feel much more fulfilled and less chaotic. This is more important to me than doubling or tripling my income.
I also LOVE seeing clients 1-1, but what I see is that client counseling is a direct exchange of my time for income. So that will *definitely* still remain a part of my business. But rather than increasing my client load in 2019, my focus moving forward is creating products and online services for more passive income.
Focus on my clients, not other dietitians
Something interesting I realized at the end of 2018 is how much I care about what other dietitians think of me. When I look at my instagram engagement, 75% of that is coming from other dietitians. When I did a poll asking if I should bring the podcast back, I got many messages saying people missed it… all from other dietitians. I think since we’re type A, we want to see what other RDs are doing and learn from them. While this is great, I do think it can be professionally stunting.
We are in an odd time in our profession with the intuitive eating movement. While I agree with the anti-diet movement on many fronts, I am still a huge fan of nutrition education. Yet I feel intimidated providing that information online.
Going into 2019, I really put my blinders on and started focusing more on my ideal clients and current clients. Whether it is content creation, social media engagement, marketing, etc., my content will be for them.
Giving & taking when you are a dietitian entrepreneur
I went to a Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group (NE DPG) meeting over the weekend, and we talked all about building successful professional networks. There are basically 3 types of people who network:
- Takers: those who seek information but give nothing in return
- Cautious givers: those who share some pieces of advice but only if they receive something beneficial in return
- Givers: those who freely give information knowing that they will have the favor returned at some point
We were advised to be givers but to also work on weeding out the takers and cautious givers from our networks. Because those types of networking relationships are not very beneficial. We talked about all of the ways we can give to others, but also the specific needs we have for ourselves as well. It was a great networking event.
Hearing this explained at the meeting made so many things click for me. I have tried so hard throughout my career to be a giver because I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of other dietitians. But being a constant giver to anyone, including the takers and cautious givers, can be draining. Have you ever gone out of your way to respond to an email or have a coffee date with someone where you just answer a bunch of questions and never hear from them again? It doesn’t feel good. I sometimes walk away from those situations feeling like I’ve been taken advantage of, and that I’ve wasted 1/4 of my day. Then I feel this internal conflict when I want to avoid these situations but also still help people.
It was so helpful hearing someone say that it’s OK to avoid those situations, and that it doesn’t mean you can’t be a giver at all.
I have a small network of other dietitians who are amazing. I happily help them knowing at some point, I will need their advice too. In 2019, I am going to focus more on building a network with these types of colleagues instead of trying to be everything to everyone.
Saying no is just as important as saying yes
When I was just starting out, it was really hard to say no to any opportunity if it brought in income. But saying yes to something that isn’t a good fit for me really has a negative domino effect.
In my first full year, it became easier and easier to say no to projects and corporate wellness opportunities that weren’t a good fit. But it still felt hard to say no to potential clients.
I ended out 2018 realizing how important it is to only work with clients who are looking for what I have to offer. This can be kind of hard as a mindful eating dietitian since so many women are looking for a quick weight loss tool. I used to think we could start working together anyway and that hopefully I could still help them in some way, or that I could help them “see the light”. But at the end of the day, running a business is not about helping people “see the light”. It’s about helping them meet their goals. And if someone’s goals don’t align with my nutrition philosophy then it’s better to refer them to someone who is a better fit.
Now that I am focused more on saying yes to clients who are a good fit, I can see all of the ways my business is starting to bloom. Sessions are so enjoyable. My clients are happy. Physicians are thanking me for helping their patients. This is really the business I saw for myself.
Thoughts on 2 Years
My final thoughts for this 2-year post is that I am really happy to embrace change. I used to feel like everything I did needed to be perfect because it would be permanent, and that change was an indicator of failure. Now I see that change is not only normal but also necessary if you want to build a business that is successful while still bringing you joy.
Thanks for reading!