Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Valerie Polley, owner of Blue Tree Nutrition, located in Zionsville, IN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice. My area of focus is working with clients that have gastrointestinal and autoimmune issues. I tend to have more of a functional/integrative approach to nutrition, so not only do I use diet changes to help clients, but often the addition of supplements can be a big help.
The key to working on many of these issues is to focus on inflammation. I have clients reach out to me when they have been given a certain diagnosis, such as celiac disease or ulcerative colitis, but I also have clients come to me with no diagnosis. They don't feel themselves, so we work on changes to help with symptoms.
Tell us about yourself
My interest in nutrition came during my first year of college. I did mostly in-patient hospital work after graduation for many years. After my father-in-law and nephew were diagnosed with celiac disease, I became interested in gastrointestinal issues.
My interest in more of a functional/integrative approach came after I was diagnosed with Lyme disease by a functional medicine doctor. I saw firsthand how much diet and supplements helped me heal. Due to my personal experience, I use this in my practice with many of my clients. I love what I do, and it motivates me every day to help others feel better. My goal is to always work on decreasing symptoms no matter what they may be at the time.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am proud of the business I have built and what I have learned on my own over the past seven years. I started as a private pay model, and now I take insurance. I am in-network with four major insurance companies. I love hearing clients tell me how much better they feel by making some simple changes.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I am the only one in my business, so I make all the decisions and do every task. This can be a huge perk but also a downfall. I miss having someone to bounce ideas off of and just general help. I did hire someone to do my insurance billing this year, so that has been very helpful.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Pick a focus topic or have a niche so you are very knowledgeable on that specific topic. It can expand as time goes on, but knowing a lot about one topic is much better than knowing a little about a lot of topics.
- It can take time for a business to grow. I was told four years, and that individual was correct. Don't get discouraged. Keep working hard, and it will pay off in the end.
- Network, network, network! This is so important. I don't know dietitians in my area that do what I do, so I network with other dietitians all over the country. I also network with local dietitians, so I can refer clients to them that aren't a good fit for what I do.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am passionate about what I do and helping clients. I have been doing one-on-one client work since opening my business seven years ago. I have now launched a course called Defeat Digestive Distress. It is for anyone dealing with inflammation issues. It is an 8-week course, where a video is released every week along with handouts to help walk individuals through the recommenced changes for that week. With the course, my goal is to be able to go more in-depth with each topic.
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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