Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Steven Christiansen, Founder of Healthy Trails Coaching, located in Madison, WI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Healthy Trails seeks to guide individuals down their unique path to optimized wellness to become their happiest, healthiest, and most fulfilled selves! This is accomplished through personalized, virtual health coaching and fitness training with nutritional guidance.
I work to establish genuine connections with my clients and create a holistic approach to their wellness based on current lifestyle factors! This approach centers around maintainable changes, mindfulness, psychological behavioral change science, and balanced living.
I’m currently accepting clients on an individual and group basis. Additionally, I’m working towards the implementation of my programming into the corporate space to promote workplace wellness and assist in employee health and engagement!
Tell us about yourself
Being a part of the fitness industry was always a major interest of mine, further springboarded by the many diverse opportunities I had while earning my Kinesiology degree from the University of Wisconsin. While fitness was and still is a passion of mine, I always knew that it was a small piece in my much broader goal of helping to better the overall health and well-being of others.
During the surge of COVID-19 and the period of isolation, I took the chance to critically re-evaluate my professional career and decided to pivot towards scaling my services to achieve my entrepreneurial goals. I used the time spent in quarantine to earn my health coaching certification and build a business plan.
While COVID-19 offered me a valuable chance to look at my professional goals, it also allowed me to shed light on some of my own personal goals and values. I’ve always been dedicated to assisting others in living their most fulfilled lives, so I decided to start leading by example. I used this time to also pursue my passion for travel and novel experiences through the conversion of a mini school bus into a livable home on wheels, used to travel the U.S. with my partner, Jaclyn, and our puppy, Bailey.
While traveling, I continued to seek out opportunities for continuous education and began to craft the original health programming that eventually morphed into much of my coaching philosophy at Healthy Trails. My fascination for evolutionary biology and anthropology influenced much of this coaching ideology. It became apparent to me that many of our modern health issues seem to stem from the “mismatch” between biology and psychology that was developed over thousands of years and our relatively novel 21st-century environment. With this in mind, I set out to uncover how we can productively use our modern science to address this apparent environmental mismatch.
As someone who identifies as a lifelong learner and considers myself a resource to others, I stay motivated each day to continue to live these values and assist others in achieving their optimal health and mastering mindsets for success.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
After months of research and prep, I’m finally in the midst of my first virtual 4-week wellness program with 60+ participants!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a business owner, you’re your own boss, which I’ve come to realize is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one side, you can set your own schedule and fill your days how you like. On the other hand, you realize there is always more to do, more to accomplish, and the work is never truly done. It’s easy to apply your sense of self-worth to the success of your enterprise and fall victim to the hustle culture that many of us entrepreneurs praise. If you’re not careful and intentional, this can easily lead you towards a bit of a skewed work/life balance.
When it comes to working in a client-facing business where your energy and ability to connect and build relationships with others is directly related to success, this can be quite problematic. It’s also impossible to tap into the creativity and critical thinking necessary to disseminate scientific and health information when you’re burnt out. It’s impossible to be successful in a business centered around helping others if you can’t first help yourself.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Build your network: Talk to many other successful people who have already done what you’re trying to do. Learn the recipe from the master chef and figure out where they had their biggest pitfalls starting off.
- Make mistakes, stay flexible and learn to pivot: Obviously, you should be calculated in your actions and have a plan, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t let your obsessing over the “perfect plan” distract you from taking action. You might make mistakes, but learn to adjust on the fly and let those mistakes guide you toward long-term success.
- Practice self-care: This one may be a bit biased given my position as a health coach, but in order to function at your best (productivity, creativity, efficiency), you’ve got to have the other facets of your health and wellness in check, and they need to be a priority.
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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