Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dr. Suhani Shah, ND, Founder of Acacia Wellness Kitchen, located in Calgary, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is called Acacia Wellness Kitchen. It is a naturopathic wellness company and brand mainly for professional women and moms, focusing on increasing energy, preventing burnout, and improving fertility outcomes through optimizing hormone health. This is achieved through offering free naturopathic wellness education via blog posts, healthy recipes, soon-to-launch paid meal guide(s), and online wellness educational program(s) accessible to women across Canada and the USA, and other countries as well.
Since kids being unwell is a #1 stressor for moms, I also work with kids in clinical practice and treat a variety of pediatric concerns from anxiety and ADHD to tummy pain to eczema. My clinical practice is located in Alberta, Canada, where I see mostly women and kids but also males.
Tell us about yourself
I graduated from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, with a degree in Applied Human Nutrition and became very passionate about food as medicine. I knew I wanted to work in healthcare and loved my medical science courses an undergrad, but being an MD wasn't for me because I didn't like the concept of prescribing pharmaceuticals only. I wanted to use nutrition and diet as therapeutic tools. I stumbled upon naturopathic medicine, which is rooted in a whole-person, whole-body, individualized treatment approach using nutrition along with other holistic therapies. I knew that this was my career path.
As a naturopathic doctor, I learned that it's not just about being a doctor, but there is a huge business component, and since my parents are business owners and I guess entrepreneurship is something I was brought up around. I like the concept of freedom and being able to make your own decisions, and that has been the driving force behind me developing my own brand, and while I practice out of a chiropractic clinic in Calgary, I consider myself an independent contractor rather than an associate. I try to keep myself motivated by connecting with other like-minded entrepreneurs through social media who are growing their own brands. The goal of having a business I can call my own, whether it is a mix of a brick and mortar clinic and an online business or just online, is another motivating factor keeping me going. Having multiple income streams so I can earn income while I am on vacation and don't have to rely on being in the clinic and seeing clients as my only income source (freedom concept again) keeps me motivated every day to work on my online offerings.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been building a clientele, networking, and navigating running the business aspects of being a naturopathic doctor because our educational training didn't have much of that in the curriculum. Also, moving to a new city to start my business meant I didn't know anyone or have any family to help promote my business. I was forced to go out and meet new people and network, which helped build my assertiveness and confidence. In the last year, I have noticed more word-of-mouth referrals in my practice because of this.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest aspects of being a business owner is wearing many hats and staying on top of everything while giving your best to all your clients, especially as a solopreneur. Time management is key, and recently I have learned that time blocking for getting tasks done can be effective. It's easy to get exhausted and feel burnt out. When that happens, the creative aspect of my business suffers, leading to less marketing and content generation.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You have to be okay with not working the typical 9-5. If you want the 9-5 lifestyle, starting a business isn't your path.
- Get comfortable with social media. Play around with different platforms to see what works for your business and pick 2 or 3 for your business. You need to be online and have some form of an online presence.
- There will be good days and bad days but try to find yourself a community of entrepreneurs or business owners that share similar experiences because that will get you through. Having some form of community is key to keeping you going because entrepreneurship or solopreneurship can be lonely otherwise.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Owning and running a business is hard work, and I would say it can take a few years before you feel like you even have a foundation to keep building on. It took about 6 years for me, but that's because of the pandemic through a wrench in my path. Just know your vision, goal, and niche and get really clear with that so you can avoid any distractions from others. Then stay focused, be patient, dedicated, and consistent in your marketing and business activities, and you will build your foundation too.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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