Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Laura Ali, Owner of Laura M. Ali, LLC., located in Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a registered dietitian and certified culinary nutritionist. My business is primarily nutrition communications, nutrition marketing, and recipe development, where I combine my passion for food, health, and education. I work with food and health-focused companies providing science-based food, nutrition, and health information through writing and speaking engagements. I also work with food companies to help them showcase their products by providing easy and trendy recipes and simple ways to add them to their everyday lives.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in a large family and am the oldest of six children. My mom was a nurse, and nutrition was always a focus. Our meals were healthy and balanced, and there was always a vegetable or two for every dinner. Dessert was often fruit with an occasional sweet treat, and soda and chips were considered party foods. She made sure we all understood how important healthy food was. As I grew up, I helped her with grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking, and I found that I loved spending time in the kitchen. I knew doing something with food was in my future.
I worked for many years as a clinical dietitian in hospitals, teaching my clients how to eat to support their health but more often to help them manage a disease or health issue. I realized that I wanted to do more to educate consumers about how to incorporate healthy food into their lives to help prevent getting to that point.
After many years working with food companies and retailers, I started my nutrition consulting and freelance writing business to help more people learn about nutrition and food and the impact both can have on our health. Even small changes can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health. My goals are to help people learn to love good, healthy food and find easy ways to incorporate them into their meals so they can lead healthier, more vibrant lives.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment was just taking the leap to get started. It was a difficult decision to leave a good-paying job that I loved, but I knew the time was right, and I needed to do it. I've only been in business for a little over two years, but my business is growing. I'm proud that I've gained new clients and am having continued conversations with potential clients. I'm learning new things every day and finding ways to add new revenue streams.
I accomplished one huge goal in my first year, publishing my first cookbook, MIND Diet for Two, 65 Perfectly Portioned Recipes for Two People. It is a cookbook focused on an eating plan that has been shown to support brain health and delay or prevent the onset of dementia. Both my husband and I have family members who have struggled with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, so this was an important book to research and write.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
When you own your own business, you are responsible for everything. It is hard work and requires excellent organizational skills, planning, and focus. You will find that you need to be good at juggling tasks, not just client work but invoicing, managing your website, answering emails, sending pitches, developing social media content, staying on top of trends, and more.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Have a good support network. Having a group of colleagues, friends, and family that you can lean on for support, questions, and mentorship will help you through the tough times and help your business grow. Being a solopreneur can be lonely, so set up a regular coffee and lunch dates with friends and colleagues, meet at conferences, and spend time learning from each other. Check in periodically to see how they are doing and how you can help them.
- Hire a lawyer and an accountant. This should probably be the first thing you do. Make sure your business is set up correctly, and your finances are organized.
- Learn to say no. There are some projects and clients that maybe aren't a good fit. That's okay. Be true to who you are and what you want to do. It's a lesson I'm still learning!
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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