Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Laura B. Folkes, a Certified Holistic Health Coach, based in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
As a Certified Holistic Health Coach, I support people who generally know what they should be eating but have a hard time consistently sticking with it to end self-sabotage. We get to the bottom of how their eating is a form of protection that leads them to fall off track, even when they have a strong desire to reach their health, weight, and wellness goals. They are successful in many areas of their lives, but this “food thing” is the one area they can’t seem to conquer.
Tell us about yourself
I struggled with my weight starting at the age of 12. Looking back and knowing what I know now, it isn’t too surprising since I was bullied in middle school and high school for my appearance, including my weight and the way I dressed. I went to my first weight loss program when I was 13 and would lose weight but then gain it all back, plus some. In my mid-20s, I got to a point where I was burnt out from dieting. Ultimately, it took about five years and a few different approaches to lose 60 pounds, and I have kept it off since 2008.
As I was going through the last year of my weight loss journey, I was working in advertising and found my friends and co-workers coming to me for advice and guidance as they were going through their weight loss journeys too. When I was exploring what to do next, that memory kept coming up when thinking about my purpose and passion.
When I learned about health coaching in 2013, I decided to get my certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. While I was studying for my certification, even though I was maintaining my weight, my relationship with food was still strained. I was in a cycle where I was “working the system.” I would eat well for a while, then I would eat whatever I wanted, gain a couple of pounds, and freak out about gaining the weight back, so I would rein it in again and lose the weight. I knew what I was supposed to be eating, but something was stopping me from consistently sticking with it.
I was exhausted by this cycle and eventually realized I didn’t have to be stuck in the pattern. That’s when I started working with my own Health Coach to explore my relationship and patterns around food. It was then that I realized food is as much a form of protection as it is a way to nourish our bodies. I never realized the impact being bullied had on me until I uncovered my fear of being misunderstood. Anytime I felt a real or perceived risk of being misunderstood, I would binge eat, think about food obsessively, or focus on my body and need to change it ASAP. Since achieving a truce with food, I can focus on what’s important to me, so I am less defensive and more fulfilled in many areas of my life.
My own experience and journey are the reasons I became a health coach because not many approaches address WHY we eat, and that is just as important as what we eat. It is helpful that I have been where many of my clients are because I can relate to what they are experiencing. My clients are what motivate me each day. When someone tells me the process has been life-changing, I experience a level of fulfillment I never expected I could achieve in my career.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been supporting over 100 clients since 2015. I am honored that each one of them chose me to go on the journey with them to transform their relationships with food. At the end of a program, when I hear clients say things like the ones listed below, it reminds me that I’m in the right place and doing the work that I love:
• “I feel 1,000% better than I did when I first started working with Laura. This process was lifesaving!”
• “I don’t eat impulsively anymore, my late-night snacking is totally under control, and I trust my body and my choices!”
• “I no longer feel guilty when I eat something that’s 'bad.'”
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Having worked in advertising, I was used to working with teams of experts in each discipline. One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is having to wear all the hats. I am the one responsible for all marketing, creative, copywriting, accounting, coaching, SEO, website updates, and the list goes on.
Not only can it be challenging to prioritize everything on your plate, so you don’t get overwhelmed, but it is also difficult to implement things you are not an expert at. Over time, I have learned to ask for help and outsource when I know someone else can do something better than I can.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- For anyone looking to start a business, the first tip I would give them is to be patient. We often think success happens overnight, but for many businesses, it takes a lot of work for the business to get to where they want it to be. Things will probably be more challenging than you expect, which is not unusual since we often don’t know what we don’t know when we’re first getting started.
- The second tip is similar to the first one but realize that growing and building a business takes time. You can set goals, but be sure they are realistic and not idealistic. Since you may not know what your business cycles are yet, you may not have an idea of what a realistic timeline is, so be prepared to pivot and adjust as you learn your business.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or support. Being a solopreneur can be lonely, especially if the people in your circle do not have a business. Surrounding yourself with a community of people you trust and who are going through something similar to you is extremely helpful so you can bounce ideas off them and vent when things are hard. Connecting with people who are experts in things you don’t enjoy doing is also helpful so you can outsource and focus on the areas of your business that are aligned with your strengths.
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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