Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jenna Volpe, founder of Whole-istic Living, located in Austin, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
As a holistic-minded dietitian, functional nutritionist, and clinical herbalist, I help people crack their code and then address and resolve their chronic health issues at the root level with a "food as medicine" approach. I work primarily with clients who are navigating digestive health issues, but since the gut impacts pretty much every other aspect of our health in one way or another, lots of my clients also often come to me dealing with depression, anxiety, nutritional deficiencies, immune system imbalances, autoimmune disorders, hormonal havoc, and skin breakouts. I love working with highly committed, deeply motivated, and very open-minded clients, as these are the people who tend to get the best results!
Tell us about yourself
I was initially introduced to the world of nutrition and "food as medicine" at 16 while volunteering at a hospital coffee shop. A customer shared with me the multitude of benefits that antioxidants in green tea offer. From there, it didn't take long before I discovered that antioxidants are also potent in fruits and veggies. This led to a profound awakening that we can enjoy an exponentially better quality of life with lots of energy, vibrance, mental clarity, and empowerment by changing what we eat and how we live.
My understanding of "food as medicine" was up-leveled when I started developing chronic digestive issues and immune imbalances in my early 20s as a young clinician. I was forced to navigate mainstream medical systems until I found a holistic approach that allowed me to heal my body at the cellular level, so I can now live mostly symptom-free and help many others access this same level of freedom.
My mission is for my own first-hand experiences and lessons as a "wounded healer" to pave the way for others who are trying to overcome stubborn and mysterious chronic health issues linked to the gut.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think staying in business for eight years, despite relocating from Boston to Austin in 2018, is my biggest accomplishment! It's very expensive and very time-consuming to start and run a 1:1 practice. I didn't have any idea how expensive the overhead would be, nor did I realize it would require me to work seven days a week most weeks for the first few years in order to get things off the ground.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Finding a work-life balance is challenging, especially when your business runs on your time. I find that my time and energy are precious and finite - they are also my two biggest bottlenecks because I'm only one person! I can't take paid time off, and I need to be very mindful of burnout. Had I understood all of this from the very beginning, I think I would have designed my business model to be more leveraged and to rely less on my own time and energy.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Figure out ways to create multiple streams of income in your business so you're never putting all your eggs in one basket.
- Figure out ways you can serve people that don't require you to trade your time for money, especially if you hope to start a family or value spending time with the family you already have.
- Don't do something just to make money or just because you feel like you "should." Design a business that you love from the very beginning. Only choose a line of work that you are so passionate about. You could talk about it every day for many months and years without getting bored! Passion is what keeps you going.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I wish I had trusted my intuition more in the beginning. As a people-pleaser, I used to think I had to be and do everything for everyone. For example, I let many other people convince me to offer services like "weight loss" and "weight management" because they told me that's what most people would want from a nutritionist. And I tried to take all the health insurance so my services would be affordable for everyone. But those choices are also what almost drove my practice into the ground by burning me out. Don't try to please the masses; focus on serving a small, niched, specific group of people who align with how you can help them, and speak only to those in your marketing! The rest will take care of itself.
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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