Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sharon Vanin, Founder of Wellcome Home, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a nutritionist and a lawyer for health and wellness businesses. In my nutrition practice, I focus on supporting women to heal their relationship with food, their body, and their authentic self. I work through an intuitive eating and anti-diet lens to help women with a history of dieting and eating disorders learn to trust their innate wisdom for being healthy.
My legal practice is for health and wellness business owners, including practitioners (which, of course, includes many nutritionists!), yoga studio owners, start-up food and natural product companies, and other innovative companies in the health and wellness space. I also run an online legal template shop where health and wellness businesses can find all the legal documents they need in an efficient and cost-effective way.
Tell us about yourself
I've always been really into nutrition and healthy living, but I never thought that I could pursue this as a career. I guess it's because I didn't see people in my immediate circle of influence who did this kind of work, and I didn't have a clear idea of how varied the practice of nutrition really is. Instead of pursuing that path, I became a lawyer. I worked exclusively in the healthcare sector, so there was definitely a thread of wanting to help promote health and wellness, and that's always been a strong motivator for me in my work.
After almost 15 years into my legal career, I was unexpectedly laid off from my job. This gave me an entirely new perspective on my life and what the next chapter would look like. I took that opportunity to go back to school to become a nutritionist. Having experienced many years in the corporate world, I knew I wanted my nutrition career to look very different. In my previous work in the legal side of healthcare, I worked at a system level and never felt like I could truly affect people at an individual level. System-level stuff is important, but I was deeply yearning to connect with people on a more intimate level.
And that's exactly what I get to do as a nutritionist. It's an amazing privilege to get to know people at a deep level and help them improve their life. This is the most gratifying aspect of what I do professionally. As for my legal businesses, they came about as a happy accident! When I went back to school to study nutrition, I thought I was leaving law behind. But when my nutrition colleagues found out about my legal background, they started asking me for legal advice about starting a business. I realized that I could help a lot of people with my legal expertise, and one thing led to another, and my legal businesses were born. I love serving my legal clients because I can relate to their challenges so well since I face them myself in my own businesses. I think that makes me really relatable as a lawyer. And obviously, being a nutritionist puts me in the ideal position to help other health and wellness professionals navigate the legal side of the business.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm really proud that I turned a lousy situation (losing my job) into something beautiful and abundant. Starting one business — let alone three! — is a huge endeavor, and it's really hard. I guess I was a bit naive when I decided to start three businesses pretty much at the same time, as I had no idea how much work was involved. But I'm grateful that I was able to jump in with optimism and inspiration. This carried me through the initial challenges and doubts that came up.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I'm still in the early phase of my businesses, and the biggest challenge is being the CEO — Chief Everything Officer. I don't have any staff helping me right now, so I'm totally responsible for making everything happen in my three businesses. It's an incredible amount of work to keep so many balls in the air. Because I love what I do and I'm so deeply invested in it, I have a tendency to allow work to seep into all areas of my life. Having boundaries is another challenge right now. I have to be very intentional in carving out time where I do non-business things.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Above all, be crystal clear on your why. Once you are grounded in this, it becomes your guiding light, and everything you do will flow from it.
- Start with a strong foundation. There's a lot of planning and preparation that must happen before you launch. Things like legal issues, structuring your business model and having a strategy and a plan for continued growth. Don't get ahead of yourself without having these critical pieces in place. Spend time in the beginning to build a strong foundation that will serve you well for the life of your business.
- Talk to as many business owners outside of your field as you can. We tend to silo ourselves in our comfort zone by focusing on businesses that are similar to our own. Zoom out so you can learn from a diversity of businesses.
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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