You wrote the exam, you got a passing grade, and you are ready to hit the ground running. Time to build a website, business cards, social media accounts, programs, ebooks, events… Your ‘To-Do’ list is about the same length as your childhood letter to Santa.
I’m here to tell you to take a deep breath and slow down because faster isn’t always better. I’m going to be open and honest with you and share what worked for me when starting my business and what I wish I had known.
Branding Isn’t #1.
You may feel like you can’t start a business until you have all your branding down. I know I did. The thing is, your business will evolve and change every day when first starting out. Instead of filing a rush order to print your business cards, get out there. Attend events, research and pay attention to details within other businesses in your field. Ask people at events who they used to design their business cards, websites, and logos. What colours and fonts stand out to you? What websites do you like and why do you like them? Do those sites match what you want for your business?
Don’t feel rushed to come out of the gate looking like you’ve been in business for 15 years. Take your time discovering your business’ voice. Just because you don’t yet have a website and everything on lockdown, doesn’t mean you can’t start taking clients. Heck, word of mouth is one of the BEST ways to get clients. Once you start working with them, ask them for a testimonial so when it comes time to build your site, you already have a handful ready to post!
What is Your Business’ Voice? Let’s Get Specific.
When I interviewed and asked professionals in the industry tips on starting a business, the one answer that was always consistent was ‘get specific’.
What does this mean and why is it so important?
When you strive to help everyone, your not able to specialize in any specific area. Think about it, say you want to help people lose weight and that’s what you’re advertising. First of all, you now have triple the competition of businesses in this industry. Then, you may start to attract clients from many different backgrounds. Overweight individuals who are borderline diabetic, people coming off an injury, young men and women wanting to lean out and get into the competitive industry. Now, in order to help these clients, you have to make sure you know the in’s and out’s of diabetes, eating for rehabilitation ensuring they aren’t diving into their old diet habits, and the science of macros, macro timing and pairing it all with their workout schedule.
If you’re just starting out, that’s a lot, and chances are you may not be able to become an expert in all of those categories. Versus, if you narrow in on wanting to work with women from the ages of 48-55 who are going through menopause and need help losing weight they’ve gained due to hormonal change, you can specialize within this category. Now you can hone in and advertise your specialization, attracting any women and their friends that are experiencing hot flashes. Plus, you can use your experience and feedback from client to client versus trying to use the same formula or tactic as someone fighting diabetes or looking to get stage ready.
I made this mistake when first starting out. I wanted to help everyone and anyone. Which was unfair to me and my clients. I couldn’t connect with them to the level that I wanted to which led to spreading myself too thin, unable to provide the results I had advertised.
You may not know whom your ideal client is when first starting your business, which is totally OK! But you gotta start somewhere. In your case studies, which clients were you most drawn to? Start there and you can build, change, and add specialties as you grow.
What Makes You Stand Out?
Once you discover your niche and get specific on who you want to help, your personality will be the drive of what makes your business stand out.
I have hosted many events with other nutritionists and health coaches and they always ask me ‘won’t it be a conflict of interest?’
To me, the answer is simply, no. I believe there is enough business to go around and people will be drawn to me or drawn to them based on our specialties and our personalities. Its nothing to take offense of, in fact, it’s a tool. The clients you attract based on your personality will more likely share commonalities with you, which will help you connect deeper, providing more support and guidance in reaching their goals.
Have ideas or striving to do something outside the industry norm? Act on it! Dare to do what others aren’t. Allow the faith in your business to overcome your fear. Put yourself in your client’s shoes, what would you want from a nutritionist? What is missing that you think could really make a difference?
Finding your business’ voice and really being honest and brave when it comes to putting yourself out there can take time. After 2 years in the business, I am still finding my voice and ways my persona can shine through my work.
OK, Now It’s Time For Branding.
You’ve decided on your niche, made a list of things that stand out to you, and how you can stand out in return. Now it’s time to start your branding.
Mistake #1: Don’t try to do it all yourself.
I spent my first year designing my own website, logo, business cards, ebooks…all of it, only to spend the next year completely rebranding it all with a professional. This took a quarter of the time, which is a very small price to pay. Time is money after all.
There are tons of cheap, easy sites out there that will generate a logo or a website for you but keep in mind, hundreds of people are doing the exact same thing. Speaking of standing out….here’s how not to!
If you want to be considered a professional, hire a one to help you out. Interview graphic designers and work with one that understands you and your business and will create a branding package showcasing it. Yes, it may cost more, but I can tell you from first-hand experience, the time you save and the finished product is worth every penny.
Before hiring a designer or website builder, make sure they are willing to make alterations until you are 100% satisfied. This is your business, your baby! Don’t settle for the sake of being a polite Canadian, only to regret it later.
Lead With Passion.
Allow your purpose and passion to fuel your business.
This alone will boost you to the top because when you’re passionate it about your work, your clients can feel it, making it nearly impossible for them not to spread the word.
Starting a business is a roller coaster, to say the least. There will be good, great, and defeating days that will have you thinking waiting tables isn’t so bad. But you must allow your drive to keep the momentum going even when times are tough. Every business move you make, although it sometimes may not seem like it, is a step forward.
Imagine that every day you are planting seeds for your business. You’ve got to water them, ensure they’re getting enough light, and nurture them every day. You may not see any form of life or movement for a while, then all of a sudden out of nowhere, things start to happen. New clients, new opportunities, new appreciation for your work.
One piece of advice that has really helped me along the way is to always show up. If you’ve planned an event, workshop or gathering to promote your business and only 1 person shows up, follow through and act the exact same as if 100 people were there. It really only takes that 1 person to tell a few friends, who tell their friends, and all of a sudden, you’ve got a handful of new clients and free promotion. This line of work is just as challenging as it is rewarding but never allow your passion to influence and help others in living their healthiest, happiest lives fade away. Keep your eye on the prize of making a difference and allow that to be your drive to succeed.
Chara Marie, R.H.N.