Since I know a lot of you are either RDs or curious about the field (it’s my most common FAQ and email topic!), Kayli is back with another insightful post on nutrition entrepreneurship.
I’m Kayli, a dietitian entrepreneur, freelance writer, and food blogger at Plant Eaters’ Manifesto. Since we last met here eight months ago, a lot has changed for me! After my first post on Kath Eats Real Food, I received so many great questions from nutrition entrepreneurs-to-be that I decided to write a The Dietitian’s Entrepreneur Starter Guide and start another blog where I share honest stories, insights, and resources about nutrition entrepreneurship.
I can’t wait to fill you in on some of the latest entrepreneurship lessons I’ve learned.
Lesson #1: Get Good At Something
Last time I told you to “start now” (have you done that yet?!), and part of getting started is getting good at something. Your success depends on it. In my experience, it’s not just about who you know or who you meet or how hard you work. It’s mostly about what you are good at. Do you want to start a business centered around public speaking? Get good at that. Do you want to start a business centered around mindful eating, plant-based nutrition, or local food? Whatever it is, start getting good at it. Doing good work is how you will become known as “the (fill-in-the-blank) dietitian”.
Right now I am working on getting good at the two areas I want to be central to my business: writing and plant-based nutrition. So, I found work doing both to polish my skills and build my reputation. No one is going to offer me a book deal just yet because no one knows I am an “expert” in anything. I have to hone my craft and prove myself by doing good work.
Identify what you want to get good at (and accept that this “thing” will probably change as you go through life!). Now, look for opportunities to master this craft. If it’s speaking, offer to speak to dietetics students at a nearby university. If it’s writing about pediatric nutrition, start a “mommy blog” or pitch nutrition stories to parenting websites. The hardest part about building a successful business is being known and being trusted. Both of these things take sweat equity, so start building your expertise now!
Lesson #2: Forget passion, follow your curiosity
What if you don’t know what you want to get good at? Most people will tell you to “follow your passion”! Not me. I used to live by this phrase, but I’m starting to think it might be bad advice. “Passion” suggests something groundbreaking and core-shaking. In other words, it puts a lot of pressure on your next move. Maybe you don’t feel all that passionate about anything, or maybe you just aren’t sure if you are passionate about something. What if you followed your curiosity instead? This is an idea I borrowed from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic. You might not be able to fill a page with your passions, but I bet you have a long list of curiosities.
I was curious about working as a personal chef, so I read some books and recruited some personal chef clients. I was curious about teaching cooking classes, so I applied to teach at a cooking school. I was curious about writing an e-book, so I wrote The Dietitian’s Entrepreneur Starter Guide. Some of these things turned in to passions, others faded away (but led me to my next curiosity!).
What are you curious about? Pick a few things and start pursuing them. You don’t need to have it all figured out from the start (that would be boring!), and it is perfectly okay if your curiosities (and, therefore, your business) change as you go!
Lesson #3: Find Your Mission (it will make “marketing” easy)
Your soul searching to identify what you want to get good at and what you are curious about will eventually lead you to a mission that, dare I say, you feel passionate about. Having a mission will make marketing your business and getting customers much easier.
For example, my mission is helping people transition to a whole food, plant-based diet. This is the “why” behind everything I do. The number one question I get asked is “how do you market your business?” This is how I do it: I don’t market, I serve. I serve the people behind my mission. I talk to those people, I ask questions, and I figure out what they want and what they need. Then, I give it to them in the form of blog posts I write on Plant Eaters’ Manifesto, services I offer, and products I create. Marketing is not about magic tricks, it’s about making something people want. If you can solve a problem for your customer, they will keep coming back… and bring their friends with them!
What mission do you want to push forward? How can you serve the people behind that mission? Have coffee with someone in your target market and ask them a million questions about their life, their barriers, their successes, their failures, and their needs. Or send a short survey to the people you want to serve. If you focus on serving these people, marketing happens naturally!
Lesson #4: There’s no shame in funding your curiosities
Last time I told you that you don’t HAVE TO work in a traditional dietetics job. Here’s a caveat: that traditional job might help fund your curiosities. Asking your entrepreneurial dreams to pay your bills right out of the gate can be a difficult and dangerous path (trust me, I tried it). You probably won’t make much money in the beginning and that added financial pressure might make you resent your work.
My truest joy comes from writing and plant-based nutrition, but people are not banging down my door offering piles of money for my writing and expertise. So, I have to fund my interests (and the time I’m spending getting good at them) in other ways. Traditional dietetics jobs are not my jam, so I make money by managing social media accounts for a few businesses and organizations, by ghost writing for other dietitians, and with other nutrition-related work. In the past, I’ve funded my curiosities by teaching at a university, personal training, and even nannying. Slowly, my curiosities are starting to support me. Slowly, I am trading my odd jobs for paid writing and plant-based nutrition gigs.
It is okay (and even smart!) to let entrepreneurship be a side project for awhile until you get clear on what you want your business to look like. It is okay not to jump in head first from the beginning. Just remember that the timing will never be perfect and you will never feel 100% prepared, so start doing something, however small, right now. I know you have great ideas, and the world needs you to put your great ideas out there!
As a LARABAR ambassador, I have another prize pack to giveaway! One lucky (USA) winner will receive a mix of classic, Uber and mini Larabars!
Kayli Dice is a plant-based dietitian and freelance writer. She co-writes the recipe blog Plant Eaters’ Manifesto with her husband and offers honest advice for nutrition entrepreneurs in her e-book The Dietitian’s Entrepreneur Starter Guide. Learn more about her at kaylidice.com