Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alia Virjee, founder of Tangible Wellness, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Tangible Wellness is a health-focused practice that puts clients first. I help busy people find real, tangible solutions for optimal wellness by guiding them toward customized, sustainable habits. It's my sincere hope that after working with me, my clients are not afraid to eat! I want to help them build their knowledge and skills to feel confident in making choices that support their health without limiting them. My clients are of all ages, seeking advice ranging from help with their picky eating toddlers to elderly folks looking to lower their cholesterol or promote an anti-inflammatory diet to deal with their arthritis.
Tell us about yourself
Hi! I'm Alia, a Registered Dietitian and an equal lover of brussels sprouts and chocolate chip cookies. After graduating, I worked in the community health sector for several years before becoming a mom. The transition to motherhood was the impetus behind founding Tangible Wellness and so many other changes in my life. I wanted more autonomy in my work and more flexibility, and I was ready for a new challenge.
I'm a South Asian woman who grew up understanding food as love. Every good and bad time I experienced as a child is steeped in the memory of delicious food prepared by my mother and aunties as an expression of their love. A language on its own. Because I love food and can't imagine life without fries, it pains me to hear about the negative and often harmful relationship, so many of my clients have had with food in their past. The thing that motivates me each day is my genuine desire to help people understand that they can pursue their health goals without sacrificing the joy from their diet. I celebrate every accomplished goal with my clients as if it were my own. The feeling of having impacted someone in this way never gets old for me!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I never had a desire to start my own practice. This felt like an alien world that I never wanted to be part of. I wouldn't consider myself a natural entrepreneur, but that is what makes my practice feel like such an accomplishment. It's the dozens of unknowns I've navigated, learned about, and overcome. I'm most proud of the simple decision just to do it and see what happens. So far, I'm happy!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
In the beginning, it was hard to allocate my time. As a business owner, you set your hours, and if you're not careful, you could be working all day and night. Or you could be playing with your kids and feeling guilty for not working day and night. Once I caught my groove a little, I've been better able to set boundaries around work time and me time to find a balance that is productive for me, my business, and my family. Setting those boundaries required sacrifice from every facet of my life. A slower pace of growth for the business missed time at the playground with my kids. There really is no magic formula, just the one that meets your needs.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I don't know how qualified I am to be giving out advice! I consider myself very "fresh" still with lots of learning ahead of me. But for those just a step behind me, this is what I have to offer:
- Just do it. If you've been thinking about it for a while, you are ready to do it!
- Talk to someone in your field who is running a similar business. Introduce yourself and ask for their insight. There is great value in having a mentor or peer in the same line of work.
- Make use of your connections! Friends, family, and acquaintances are happy to help spread the word to their networks, so don't be shy to ask for support.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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