Today is the two year anniversary of my private practice! On July 5th, 2017 I announced to my friends and family on social media that I had started a business – enabling them to hold myself accountable to pursuing my dream of being a business owner.
To be honest with you, I really wanted to write this blog post last year sharing what I learned in the first year, but I didn’t feel like I had enough experience to write it. While that sounds silly, I wasn’t in the place I am now with the confidence of where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going.
Two years ago I was working as a food service/corporate wellness RD for a large company in Greer, SC. The position was OK and the schedule made it easy for planning my wedding, but after the wedding I found myself very bored and not challenged enough. I started my private practice as a “side hustle” while working a full time position, seeing my clients at night after work and on the weekends. I did that for seven months before leaving the full time position to accept a virtual part time position in nutrition counseling, which created a perfect amount of breathing room to allow me to grow my business. I worked both that part time job and saw my private practice clients for another eight months. Though it has been two years that I have had my private practice, I didn’t actually gain the confidence in myself and finances to “take the plunge” into full time entrepreneur until October of 2018 – which was actually just 9 months ago! (I was so incredibly burnt out, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could do both)
I get a lot of questions about starting a business from other RDs and other local business owners in Greenville, SC – and I am excited to share with you some of the things I have learned in the past two years!
1. A coworking space is a great place to start
When I started my practice I was meeting with clients for nutrition counseling at their house, college, or at a coffee shop (and doing meal plans from my home office). This didn’t last very long, and once I brought on my 10th client I knew I needed a space. HIPPA was a concern for me, and I looked for a space that had a private meeting room that I could book when I needed to meet for a client session in private. A coworking space made for a perfect beginning! Not only did it involve less risk, but I also met a lot of other entrepreneurs in Greenville, SC and started to build my community. It also made the transition way less lonely knowing I always had someone to talk to! Last summer I got to the point where my client load had increased so much that I needed a private office space, and I started working with a realtor to find the perfect office to rent. My realtor was amazing and I was so lucky to have found our space on Halton Road. I moved out of the coworking office early, and started seeing clients in my private space in December of 2018 – and it has been amazing!
2. Network in your area
I know this is something you probably hear all the time, but honestly this is one of my favorite parts of being an entrepreneur. I love connecting with other business owners on social media and in our city. I have met with SO many amazing lady bosses and learned something from each and every one of them. Just like they always say – it’s all about who you know, and I have really enjoyed meeting so many new faces! (many of which have turned into clients of mine, partners, or leads) The networking, volunteer opportunities, and partnerships I have developed over the past two years have been crucial to building my brick and mortar practice. Don’t forget it’s all about collaboration not competition – so network with other people in your field too!
3. Be confident in your ideal client by doing self-discovery work
This is something that I wish I had done earlier. This past December I finally hired a business coach and one of the first things we did was self-discovery work where I answered: Who am I? What is my hero story? What kind of clientele do I want to help? Who is my ideal client, and why? I believe that I niched down too early (more to come on that below) and I think if I really dove into my story and the unique service I had to offer clients earlier in the process, I could have probably left my other jobs sooner.
4. Build your schedule for the life you want
Owning my schedule is one of the big reasons why I started a private practice. I recently took a personality test and found out that I am an “upholder.” I like to know what needs to get done and have clear expectations, but I also value time for my self care. I had a very hard time putting a job before myself/my family in the past. As a business owner, some weeks you work 40 hours, and some you work 100 hours (no joke!) BUT you don’t have to work 9-5 like you do in a corporate job. Start your day early/end later to attend that 11:30AM workout class, or go to the Post Office before it closes, or get your nails done at 9:30AM when they open. I knew that the life I wanted includes both killing it at work, taking care of myself, and being there for my family; being an entrepreneur was the best way to build the life I want.
5. Take the vacation
Take advantage of making your own schedule and take that vacation! The best part about being an entrepreneur is that you don’t have to take a set number of “vacation days” and can go on trips without asking for permission from your boss. Does it suck to come back? Yes, but I often will try to do a little bit while I’m gone to lessen the blow if it’s a long weekend. I have learned that after a long trip away (1+ weeks) to give myself 2-3 days to catch up on admin work and get myself ready for the week before seeing clients again. I get some of my best biz ideas when I’m out of the office – so this is a must!!
6. Build your team
If you’re just getting started, you don’t have to do this right away, but eventually you will want an accountant, a lawyer, and a business coach (here is an affiliate link to the coach Mandy that I used and love!). You are the expert in what you do, so let other people help you with the things you aren’t an expert in. And yes, you need someone else besides your spouse to talk to all about of these ideas!
7. Your clients will value you more than any employer ever will
This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned as a business owner in the past two years. I am someone who gives 110% in my job, and I never felt like my employer truly reciprocated for that effort. I have been so fortunate to have the most amazing clients who value my expertise and dedication to helping them reach their goals. I had to learn this when it came to valuing my packages, and my business coach helped me do that. Don’t base your rates off your salary at your last job – you’re worth more, and your clients will prove it.
8. Listen to advice, and then put your own spin on it
A lot of biz owners, books, and podcasts are going to tell you what worked for them, and advise you on what to do. So just listen, think about it for a week or two, and put your own spin on it (including this blog post). In the end you really need to just listen and go with your gut – no one knows your business like you do. If it doesn’t feel right – it’s probably not. For a long time I was listening to podcasts and thinking “so-and-so did this – so I need do that too!” But after working with my business coach, I was able to set up a game plan, and tune out all of that noise. Take it all in, but really focus on what is best for the business to get you to your 5-10 year goals.
9. Enjoy the down time!
Some months will be booming, and others will be slow. In the past, during those slow months I would try to run specials or try a little too hard to get that new client who might not have been the best fit for my packages. I have grown to realize that it all balances out, and I am trying to enjoy the slow periods a little more by spending time with my husband, my friends, and traveling.
10. It’s OK to make a change
In May of 2019, one year and 10 months after starting my business as Blush Nutrition, we rebanded to the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group. When I started in 2017, I niched down to focus on wedding wellness, only to find that the Greenville market just couldn’t support something like that. (and I wasn’t getting a whole lot of online traction either) In this time I also realized that while I liked working with brides, I also loved working with young professionals, and teaching others to meal plan for success. I kept practicing under this name and when people asked what Blush meant I would say “well, I started out in wedding wellness, hence “Blush,” but it’s really expanded since then.” It all really came to a head when I was asked what my business name meant by an anchor on a news segment, and I couldn’t answer her. It was time for a change. I hired a coach, started at the beginning, and pushed forward for 6 months. At first it felt like a failure, but then I realized that businesses are meant to grow and develop just like we do professionally and personally – and I am so excited that my business has continued to grow with me! Not only did the rebrand align with where my practice is now, but by adding “group” to the name, we have also positioned ourselves to grow and become an expert nutrition center in Greenville, SC. It was hard – but totally worth it!
I could go on and on about the different things I have learned, and this list of 10 things is just the beginning – but I want to hear from YOU! What questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at brittany@brittanyjonesRD.com
Lastly THANK YOU for being here, for your support, and your encouragement. I could have never built this business without our amazing community, and I am so grateful for you all. Here’s to even bigger things in year three!