Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and nutrition but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jennifer Hanes, Owner of Go You! Nutrition Counseling, located in Lewisville, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I actually run two businesses! One more attentively than the other. My primary focus is my private practice. I am a registered dietitian with a focus on the link between mental health and nutrition. My clients seek me out for a multitude of reasons, including those that you may already expect a dietitian to see, such as diabetes, heart disease, and weight management.
However, by far, my clients seek me out to help them improve their response to other mental health management techniques such as therapy and medications. I can help lessen the severity of their symptoms of mental illness as well as improve their response to their primary treatment modalities.
My second business is a blog. There I focus on lighter material with an emphasis on vegetarian nutrition, particularly for vegetarians that live in a multicore family. I want this blog to help make dinner time peaceful by making cohesive meals for members with a variety of nutrition preferences, particularly vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
Tell us about yourself
My road to becoming a dietitian was very long for various reasons. I spent 15 years working in veterinary clinics as a veterinary technician. While I was in grad school, my plan was always to own a business. However, the business in my head at the time is much different than the one I own now! Back then, I wanted to specialize in diabetes and become a personal trainer. I had this idea that I would have a practice that involved 1:1 nutrition coaching sessions with me as well as incorporating exercise in an environment that was friendly and with no other people to make them nervous.
However, after I graduated, the only job I could find was in a psychiatric hospital, and I could not believe how much I loved it there. My patients were amazing, and they taught me so much. I basically went from grad school/internship to a job that required me to spend a ton of time learning information that wasn't taught in school. My blog came about in the time period between graduating and taking my credentialing exam, a period where I didn't really have any direction but lots of ambition. The growth has been slower than I wanted, but with my focus on my private practice, it takes the back burner for now.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Honestly? Just being a business owner. No one in my family is an entrepreneur and no one ever really had any ambition to be a business owner. However, I have this deep drive to be the absolute best at what I do, and employment doesn't provide me with that opportunity. I learned everything about owning a business on my own. I figured out how to bill insurance companies for my services (well, that's an ongoing education...). I learned how to manage business finances. I learned marketing techniques and SEO. And I learned all of that within five years of graduation while also immersing myself in my niche of the nutrition world with a child and now a new baby.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, it's the lack of an externally imposed deadline. I have ADHD, very recently diagnosed. While I have always been efficient, I have realized that it was because certain things were expected of me by an employer. Without that external influence, I have a hard time managing certain aspects of business ownership. I hate numbers and billing insurance. But if I don't do it, there's no one to pick up the slack.
Outside of that, I often miss the social aspect of working with other people. I have always eaten alone, but while before it was by choice so introverted I could recharge during the day, now it's a by-product of business ownership, and I actually crave non-work social interaction more than ever. COVID made this worse for sure!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just stinkin' do it. You're never going to be 100% ready. There's always something else to learn. But in the time you waited, several other people in your niche just got to it and are already making money.
- Find your tribe. Early in my business ownership, a fellow dietitian reached out to me because she saw me post something in a Facebook group and saw I was near her. Now she's a frequent sounding board. The mantra community over competition is amazingly helpful. It turns out we started our business within months of each other. I often refer to her for insurance contracts I don't have, and she referred me for a contract position that was super helpful during the beginning stages of my business.
- Consider business coaching. I've gone about this in a couple of different ways. I have immersed myself in Facebook groups for dietitian business owners. I have joined coaching membership services that I found very valuable in getting me going. I have also sought business coaching through the SBA but found that without a background in my type of business, I was spinning my wheels working on projects that didn't help my business. Find business coaches that are familiar with your field and follow them anywhere they are! Join their community.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
In addition to the website above, my vegetarian nutrition blog is DietitianJenn.com.
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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