Episode 79: Is Starting An Online Business Right For You?

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I help nutrition entrepreneurs grow their income and their impact by packaging their brilliance into transformative coaching and consulting programs, and get crystal clear on their marketing strategy.

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Thanks for joining us for episode 79 of The Ancestral RD podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show.

Have you been dreaming of running your own online business? We know firsthand the simultaneous feelings of excitement and apprehension that come with making this major career and lifestyle decision. The idea of starting your own online business can be an exciting venture, especially when everything you have planned falls into place. This will happen for everyone, eventually. It just takes time.

Today we share our personal stories of creating and maintaining a successful online business. Join us as we discuss what made us decide to begin our online businesses, the pros and cons of running an online business, and the importance of knowing your values when making this decision.

Today’s discussion is sure to spark insight into important considerations to help you decide if starting an online business is right for you!

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • What made Laura and Kelsey decide to start their online businesses
  • Differing kinds of stress involved in working for yourself with an online business vs working for someone else
  • The importance of knowing your values and what stressors you are willing to deal with to have the job you want
  • How to dip your toe into starting an online business
  • The significant role social media and creation of online content play in an online business
  • Pros and cons of running your own online business

Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi everyone. Welcome to episode 79 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hey everybody.

Kelsey: How’s it going, Laura?

Laura: Good. I was just on vacation in South Carolina. We happened to have this amazing beautiful week of weather two weeks after a major hurricane that wiped out half the island.

Kelsey: Wow.

Laura: Yeah, it was crazy. It was really fortunate the weather turned out the way it was. It was low 80s the whole week and sunny. I definitely got a nice tan and I got to lay out at the pool. It was really good timing because as some people may know, well I guess this podcast is coming out a couple weeks after this is happening, but we just launched this fall class of our “Paleo Rehab” program last week.

I don’t know if anyone listening does program launches, and if you’re listening to this particular episode you may be interested in this kind of thing, but program launches tend to be fairly stressful. Although I will say that this one was way less stressful than the last couple were. Do you feel like that as well?

Kelsey: I agree. Maybe we’re finally getting it down.

Laura: Right, well we didn’t make any major changes this time around to the program itself, which last time we were changing a lot of things about it.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: Then the time before I feel like that was our first major launch. So I think this one, it was more just advertising the program as opposed to doing anything really outrageous in terms of change in the program.

Last time we involved Chris Kresser in the launch, so that was its own level of craziness that made it sort of stressful. Not that he did anything to make it stressful, but when you work with someone at that level it just kind of ups the ante a lot.

Kelsey: It’s our own mental stress in that.

Laura: I know. Oh yeah, definitely. Just the pressure we put on ourselves. But this time around seemed a little, I actually would say a lot less stressful than last time.

Kelsey: Yeah, I would too.

Laura: Maybe it was because I was technically on vacation and didn’t have any clients last week and was able to kind of just jump on the computer when I needed to, to do the stuff we needed to do. Then the rest of the time I was either taking a walk on the beach, or laying at the pool, having a pina colada at like 3:00 in the afternoon.

Kelsey: Maybe we need to be on vacation every time we launch.

Laura: I know, that might be a good idea. Maybe we should go traveling together somewhere and just get an Airbnb for a week and do the launch from there. That might actually not be such a bad idea.

Kelsey: Coming up with genius ideas on this podcast.

Laura: I know. It was a family vacation so I didn’t really have to pay for much other than some of my food. I drove there so I didn’t have to pay for a flight or anything. It was nice. My sister is 8 months pregnant so I got to see her and feel her belly which was super freaky. Generally I had a pretty good time and I feel like being on vacation during the launch definitely took a lot of stress out of it.

It seemed like the launch went really well and a lot more smoothly than the ones we had in the past, which I think part of that was just that we did it no affiliates and we just kind of advertised the program to people who were already interested. It seemed to go pretty well, and we have a lot of people that have signed up, and we’re excited to get that started. By the time this comes out we’ll be I think a couple weeks into the program.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: We’ll definitely give you guys some updates on how that’s going eventually, but right now we literally just finished the launch yesterday.

Kelsey: I know. But yeah, you’re right. I was a lot less stressful this time around I think. For people who are listening to this episode, we’ll talk a little bit about launching this kind of stuff because you’re probably interested in it.

I really love doing online programs like “Paleo Rehab.” That’s our only one so far, but I’m working on another one for gut health for my own business that’s coming out soon-ish, very “ish.” I’m not quite sure when that’s going to be available. But I really love that mode of working with people because I like that social support group that happens. Everybody kind of helps each other out and it’s really nice to be able to see that comradery that develops over time with people in the program.

I think you have to basically write all these emails that are kind of selling your program. At first I feel like that is a little bit intimidating because it’s like I don’t want to toot my own horn here. I really am proud of this program, but it feels a little weird to just say how great it is all the time and how people should buy it. I felt like for me this time around having run this program I guess three times prior to this launch, it’s become easier for me to be like, yeah, this program is really awesome. You guys are going to love it. I think for me that made a big difference mentally to kind of just feel like yeah, you know what? This is a great program. I’m really proud of it and I think you’re going to love it. Writing from that place I think makes a big difference in how things come across to people.

Laura: Right. For me I feel like having one of our former participants do a live call with us and listening to her talk about how much benefit she got from the program was really helpful for that same kind of mindset. Because I’m the same way as you, I have like a really hard time with self-promotion, and advertising, and marketing my services, and that kind of thing. It’s gotten a lot better over the years and I feel more comfortable selling my services to people than I used to.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: I used to be really freaked out by it. But there’s still that level of, I don’t know, it’s really hard to ask people for money and it’s really hard to talk about yourself, or your skills, or this program that we created in a way that doesn’t make me feel like, they call it “tall poppy syndrome” in New Zealand and Australia where it’s like you think you’re so awesome and you just want to talk about yourself. That’s I think the hardest part about being a business owner is being okay with asking for people to pay you for your services.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: Which is so silly and when I think about, as an example, which we’ve both been in this situation over the last couple months with planning a wedding, and working with vendors, and getting quotes, and figuring out who’s worth spending money on, who do you want to save money on. It’s really interesting because when I’m getting quotes from people for what their services cost and all that, there’s definitely quotes that I’ve gotten that I’m just like, well there’s literally no way I could afford that and I’m just going to not do it.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And then there’s people that I’m like, well maybe I can find out if they can reduce the level of their service to save a little money.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: Certainly I wouldn’t ask them to just give me discount for nothing. I wouldn’t be like, can you just not charge me that much?

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It would be more something like, oh I noticed that this is part of your package to include x, y, z. Can I leave that out and save some money, is that an option? It’s just interesting being on the buying end and thinking what’s my experience with this? Do I feel put upon when somebody tells me what their services cost?

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: Or do I feel like they’re unreasonable in asking for the amount that they’re asking? It’s just kind of an interesting experience because I am kind of price shopping with certain aspects of the wedding. But then I’m also not worrying so much about price for certain things.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Like for example, my fiancé and I are very…we value the photography aspect of the wedding a lot and we’re willing to pay more for that. Whereas as something like the food, we’re just looking for someone who’s going to do a good enough job and make sure everyone gets fed and not worry too much about having this extravagant food service.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I’m doing a little bit more price shopping, and requesting adjustments to make the packages less expensive, and that kind of thing. It’s just really interesting to be a consumer, even though it’s a very different type of consumption where I technically don’t need any of this stuff, but I want it for the wedding.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: I guess one might say that nutrition services are not a need necessarily. I wouldn’t call them a required service.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: One on one private counseling or even going through a group program online is not something that is not a necessity for people. But it does start to feel a little bit more like a necessity because of the nature of healthcare and that kind of thing.

It’s interesting because on one hand going through the wedding planning and vendor sourcing process makes me feel like me asking for money is not rude, or greedy, or anything like that, it’s just the way that a person runs a business. If somebody finds that that’s not a price that they can afford or not what they want to spend, then it’s okay for them to say no.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Or if they want to try to budget and reduce the costs and reduce the service as well the way I’m doing with some of my vendors, then that’s okay too. It’s been a really interesting experience.

Like we said, we can talk about this a little bit about this in this episode since it’s related to business. But I think it’s taken me some time, and I feel like you’re probably on the same page, where it’s taken time to be okay with asking for money and also being okay with things not working for certain people, like when we get emails that are saying is there something else you can do or can you make this cheaper? It’s like no, we’re sorry, we can’t. Being okay with doing that has taken a long time. I think there’s still a little anxiety for me that comes from asking for money from people, but definitely this time I felt way less stressed about it then the first time we launched.

Kelsey: Oh, for sure. I think you bring up a good point about price shopping for wedding stuff. It’s like you suddenly realize because you’re talking to so many different businesses that this is just how it works. It’s not a big deal to just say what your services cost. You’re right, if somebody can’t afford that or they don’t value it enough to pay that amount, then that’s completely fine, they’re not a good fit for your business.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: I think going through that same experience myself, I completely agree that has kind of changed the way that I feel about stating my prices and asking people to pay me for my services. It actually has made it a lot easier for me mentally.

Laura: Right. For me, it’s like there was this one photographer I emailed and they were very nice in saying we’re so excited to potentially work with you, here’s our price list. And their cheapest photography package was $6,000.

Kelsey: Wow.

Laura: And they went all the way up to $12,000. To be fair, it was like they used film, and they had two lead photographers, blah, blah, blah, and they whatever. They can charge whatever they want. It was funny because I wasn’t mad.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I was like oh that stinks that they’re so expensive. Oh well, I guess I’m not working with them.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: There’s always the occasional response that I don’t know if you get these, but occasionally I’ll get either in the private business or in our group business we’ll get responses from people who are not happy with the price that we’re asking for. And like I said, we can definitely talk about this a little more detail in the meat of the episode. But once in a while you’ll get a really angry person that is mad you’re asking for what you’re asking. It can be a little upsetting when you get an angry email talking about how you’re a rip off or there’s no reason you should charge that much, blah, blah, blah. That can be somewhat hurtful to get those emails, but I try to remember that if that’s how somebody’s responding to you pricing your package the way you are pricing it, then they wouldn’t have been a good fit anyway for the service.

Kelsey: Exactly.

Laura: I just think to myself, I’m like it would be like me responding to that photographer that sent me their pricing and saying something like, $6,000! Are you crazy? That’s ridiculous, it’s photography. What makes you think you deserve that much money?

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That’s the kind of emails we’ll get once in a blue moon. It’s not frequent that we get that kind of stuff, but we’ve definitely had it before. I’m just thinking to myself, I’m like would I ever say that to one of the wedding vendors?

Kelsey: I know. I cannot imagine saying that.

Laura: Right. I’ll email them back and be like oh that’s so much, unfortunately this isn’t in our budget, but we really appreciate the information. And then it’s over.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It’s been a process to get to the point where we feel confident asking for the prices that we’re asking for and being okay if it’s not a good fit for everybody. Definitely going through this wedding planning process you get a little bit more appreciation for what it feels like to be on the other side of it.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: That can either make me feel more motivated to make adjustments as necessary to people that I feel like are good fits. Like with my private practice I try to stick to a general strategy of pricing, but if somebody that I really want to work with just can’t afford it, then I’ll make adjustments.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: So it’s kind of like helping me learn how to price and market myself a little better being able to be in the shoes of a customer.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: But I feel like now we’re getting into the actual information we wanted to share with people today. Why don’t we hear a word from our sponsor and then we’ll talk about business development.

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Laura: Alright. This episode is a little bit of an open ended one. We don’t have a specific question necessarily that we’re covering today, but we did have somebody email us asking us some questions about just running a business and how we can use different marketing strategies or just different techniques to run a private practice online. And they also wanted to know a little bit about what we like about our business and what we don’t like about running a business. Definitely happy to talk about this stuff.

The person asking was asking more from an RD private practice perspective, but we’re going to open it up a little bit more to just an online business perspective because I think first of all, that can help more people. And second of all, we’ve talked a lot about private practice setup in the past so we want to make this a little bit more applicable to a broader audience. Let’s start with what made us decide to start our online business.

Kelsey: Alright. Well, okay, this takes me back a few years at this point. I mean for me I just really knew, well I guess I should say I kind of knew about myself that I didn’t really love working for other people. Kind of like no matter what I was doing, I always really craved just making my own decisions for myself, and having flexibility in my job, and when I can take time off. I don’t know why that was such a big thing for me. Even like going through internships and stuff, I was just like man, I really wish that I could just decide when I wanted to take time off and be flexible in my working hours. That was just really important to me.

I also knew that I didn’t want to work in a hospital. That just wasn’t super appealing. There are certainly opportunities out there for RDs working in maybe functional medicine or smaller private practices with other RDs. But for me since I knew that the flexibility was such a big thing that I desired in whatever career I chose, I just decided to kind of go for it and see what would happen if I just opened private practice as soon as I was done with school. That’s what I did and obviously it’s worked out pretty well.

I think both Laura and I had a somewhat unique situation that we’ve talked about in past episodes where we were both working for Chris Kresser which gave us a little bit of a bump in sort of the people we were exposed to which definitely helped. I’m not sure I can quite recommend jumping into private practice right out of school for most people. But I think that it’s always worth trying something and if it doesn’t work, you can always go get a regular job or a hospital job if you’re an RD just to kind of pay your bills and work on your private practice to maybe boost it up a little bit before you go full time. But I think if you really want something and you can give it shot at least for a few months and see how things turn out and then worst case scenario you go get a different job, I think that’s worth trying.

That was my mindset jumping into private practice right out of school. Of course I got tons of feedback from my professors who were looking at me like I had four heads, like are you kidding me? You’re going into private practice? You just graduated, what are you thinking?

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: There’s a lot of doubt that you’re surrounded by, but I just had a feeling about it and so I just went for it. I’m definitely happy that I did that at this point because I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I absolutely love the way that I run my business. I love the flexibility it gives me in my life, my personal life, I can just take time off when I need it. I feel like my stress levels are nowhere near where they would be working for somebody else because I think for me personally, just that dynamic of working for somebody else puts pressure and stress on my body. Being able to run things on my own I feel like is just way better for my own personal health too.

Laura: Except during launches.

Kelsey: Right, except during launches. But then I give myself time to recover too. It’s like I try not to push all the time. I’m the kind of person who I would rather there be a short period of time where I kind of do go a little crazy with the work hours or maybe I am a little stressed out, but then I give myself this not time off completely, but time that is way less packed with work so I can really help myself recover from that. The way that I’ve set how I work up works best for me mentally from not only an emotional and psychological standpoint, but also just the way that my brain works.

Laura: Mm hmm. Yeah, I feel like online business, and private practice, and just being a business owner in general, there’s so many things that make it more stressful than working for somebody else. But then there’s so many things that make it less stressful.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I think it really just depends on what stresses you out. If you’re like Kelsey, and I think I’m the same way, if you’re working for someone else, them being in charge of what you’re doing and you having to perform in a way that satisfies somebody else, and also having to get permission to take time off, or needing to have this structure to the workday that is imposed by the business, that might be what stresses you out more than something like asking people to pay you, or doing your own taxes, or just different things that come from an online business that are stressful.

I don’t want to paint this picture of online business as being you’re doing the Tim Ferriss thing working four hours a week and then you’re on a beach somewhere for the other twenty hours. I mean definitely we work hard, and there’s stress involved, and there’s still aspects of the business that cause us stress, and anxiety, and that kind of stuff, whereas maybe working 9 to 5 at a clinic somewhere would be a little less stressful in those areas. But you really just have to figure out what is important to you, what do you value, and what stress is worth dealing with to have the kind of job you want?

Have you read the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? It’s not specifically for business owners, it’s for creatives in general, but I feel like it kind of applies to business owners. Marie Forleo, who we can talk a little bit about her program because that was something that influenced our business strategy, she’s had her on for some of the interviews and that kind of thing. But she has this part of her book that I’ll censor the word she uses, but basically she says every job you do comes with its own flavor of “poop” sandwich. Basically you have to decide what poop sandwich are you willing to eat because you can’t have a job that doesn’t have negatives or stress, or no job is perfect and everyone has kind of decide what parts of the job they would not mind putting up with to have the benefits of the job.

That’s kind of where I’m going with this is like there’s definitely stressful things about doing your own business and running an online practice as a nutritionist. But that’s the flavor of poop sandwich that Kelsey and I are willing to eat basically. That’s kind of a weird way to describe it, but I think it’s good for people to remember that running your own business has its own problems, but it also has a lot of rewards. For example, I’ve been able to travel a ton over the last couple months having a long distance relationship and also being able to travel on vacation, and that kind of thing has been awesome. I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been working full time for another person. Honestly I have no idea if this relationship I’m in would even have worked, so I’m very grateful for that.

That’s one benefit of doing an online business is having flexibility of time, and being able to take off when you need to, or being able to work from anywhere in world. I can be at my fiancé’s farmhouse in Ohio using his phone for internet and I still see a client that lives in London while I’m there, so it’s really cool to have that flexibility. Then the poop sandwich that comes with that is that I’m often working on the weekends or I’m often working at 9:00 at night. It’s like there’s just a lot of different factors of online business that people need be aware of.

I think one of the best ways to kind of dip your toes into doing an online business is having either a part or full time job already kind of set up and being employed so you’re not relying on this business to feed yourself, and then looking for ways to start doing the business on the side. Maybe that’s writing blogs, or maybe that’s starting a podcast, or maybe that’s taking some coaching clients in the evenings or on the weekends or something, but not making it be your only source of income.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Because that can sometimes be a lot of pressure. I think you and I had the incredible benefit of working with Chris Kresser where we had already had a lot of people wanting to work with us even though we didn’t necessarily have a ton of marketing or blogs, or we hadn’t necessarily put a ton of information out there which is normally where people need to start. They have to have a pretty substantial website, and blog, and all this stuff to make people trust them, whereas I think we had a lot of trust built in to the fact that we had worked for Chris or that we were working for Chris. That was sort of like a short cut that we were able to enjoy and I think it’s definitely been helpful. But normally you would definitely want to be doing blogging and that kind of stuff to get an audience before you launch an online business.

That can kind of lead us into another part of the question that was asked. This person wanted to know, “How do you use social media and blogging to enhance your business?”

Kelsey: For me this is a funny question because this is like the stuff that I’m so bad at and I almost wish that I had kind of been forced to do more of this in the beginning. Because like Laura, you were blogging a lot kind of before you worked for Chris and everything, which I think benefitted you a lot. Whereas as for me, I was not really doing that stuff and I really wish I had been.

That’s one of my biggest regrets about the business that I’ve built thus far is that I feel like I didn’t start early enough with that kind of stuff. Then once you start running your private practice and things are going on in your own personal life, it’s like blogging becomes that much harder. Because I didn’t get that habit to begin with, it’s been really hard for me to kind of keep up with that.

It’s something I’m hopefully working on now. I’ve hired somebody to help me with my social media. I have people that help me post content to my website. I have somebody who posts our podcast to my website so that I don’t have to do it. I guess that kind of sounds silly because it’s a very simple thing to do, but honestly it’s one of the last things that I think about now because I’m running so many other aspects of the business.

I think that stuff is incredibly important for building an audience. Honestly, your audience is your business, so if you don’t have an audience, you don’t have a business. I think that can kind of get lost sometimes because you’re just like, oh these people are coming to me, they’re always there. But you have to nurture that relationship a lot, so you need to be posting on social media, you need to be posting blog posts, or posting podcasts, or having some sort of content that’s coming out regularly so that people can interact with you in their own way before they sign up to work with you in a one on one capacity or if they sign up to work with you through a group program. No matter what your service is that you’re offering, you need to kind of nurture the relationship before they get to that point where you’re offering a service for money.

This has been one of hardest for me personally just because I like writing, but it’s certainly not my favorite thing to do. At a certain point in your business and with the topic that you kind of focus on, you kind of can feel like what else can I possibly say about this topic? I feel like I get a little stuck sometimes, like what can I even talk about? I feel like I talked about everything or everybody else has talked about it already. But you need to remind yourself that even though maybe other people have talked about this stuff, they haven’t talked about it in the way that you would talk about it.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: It’s still worth posting that content in your own voice and with your opinions on the topic because there are people out there that want to read your opinion on it.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: Like I said, this is one of the hardest things for me in my own practice and it’s something I think I will always be improving on hopefully. And I will be posting more, but especially in the last year when I’ve been engaged, and getting married, and setting up a wedding, it’s like oh my God, how can I possibly think about this stuff?

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: My brain is in a completely different place and I wasn’t in the mindset to kind of focus on writing articles and doing all this kind of stuff. I would say it is your business, blogging and social media is your business if you are in this world of online business and it’s something that you absolutely have to do. You can’t have a business without it. But I think at least for me and I think for a lot of people in this world, it can be one of the hardest things to do.

Laura: Yeah. I think you and I are lucky in the sense that the podcast is definitely something we do regularly and we haven’t slacked on that. I almost think part of the reason for that is because we’ve hired help to get the podcast put online and get it published and stuff.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: It’s almost like having that accountability has forced us to be consistent with getting a weekly podcast out. And it’s also helped us get a weekly podcast out because before we had people helping, it was like another couple hours a week to get all that stuff edited, and posted, and all that. That can be kind of hard to do if you have other stuff going on, and certainly doing a free service like this, you don’t want to be spending a ton of time doing it.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: But you and I are kind of lucky in the sense that we didn’t really get our audience from blogging so much. I think I might have gotten more of my audience from blogging that you did.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But ultimately that wasn’t how we attracted our clients. I think the last time I posted a blog was July or something. That’s something that I definitely want to pick back up at some point. But I’m in the same situation as you where I’m very busy with personal stuff in my own life. And at some point you just have to decide okay, what’s important to me and what should I be spending my time doing?

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: From a business perspective right now, I haven’t needed to be blogging to keep my business running, and to keep my income steady, and that kind of stuff. When you’re in that situation it’s not very motivating, unless you love writing and it’s something you want to do for the fun of it, which I don’t really feel like that’s where I’m at right now.

You and I haven’t really needed to do that, but if our business was fairly fresh or we needed the blog content to get clients and to continue getting clients, then that would be something we would have to focus on. We wouldn’t have a choice and it wouldn’t be about like, do I really want to do this? It would be like, no, this has to get done because if I don’t do it, I’m not going to get clients.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: For me lately it’s been I haven’t had any need to attract new clients because I’ve been getting a pretty steady stream of them over the last I guess year or two, so I haven’t necessarily needed the extra blogging or anything. I am planning on eventually hopefully soon rebranding and so I have a couple of blogs that I want to start posting once I’ve done my rebranding, but I don’t want to start that yet just because I don’t necessarily want to be driving traffic to the old site.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: But it’s just one of those things that life definitely gets in the way and depending on what’s happening in your personal life, you may not have as much time to do certain things. Or even if it’s not personal life, if it’s a career situation, you may find that, like let’s say you have a full time job and you’re trying to start you’re business on the side, you may not have time to write once a week. Maybe you only have time to write every two weeks, or every three weeks, or something. That’s okay, you don’t have to have content coming out every week to get your business started. But that is something that social media and blogging, and podcasting, and just having some kind of online presence I would say is pretty much a necessity for having an online business.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: I’m not really sure how you can have an online business without it. You can outsource some of this stuff. Like Kelsey was saying, she’s outsourced her social media posting, and I’ve had some research assistant working on some of my blogs in the past, so it’s okay to get help. But when you’re starting out a business, you generally don’t have the finances to get help with that kind of stuff. It’s really important to have some kind of content that you’re putting out regularly.

For us, I find that talking is a lot easier than writing and obviously having a conversation together is easier that just talking into a mic on our own, so it’s been easy for us to maintain this. And yeah, maybe the blogging thing could be picked back up and I’m hoping that once I’m married and haven’t been spending ten hours a week doing wedding planning that I’ll have some time to do blogging, and work on my business, and that kind of stuff. But I don’t know. It’s one of those things that I think for the majority of business owners, you do have to be doing that kind of stuff regularly and somehow I know I’ve managed to not be doing it recently and have that not impact my business.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: I think it’s a bit of an unusual circumstance that I would attribute it to the work I did in the past just blogging in general and then also obviously working for Chris has been very helpful in keeping us kind of in the minds of the potential customers.

Kelsey: Yeah, and I think it’s important to figure out what type of medium that’s like the easiest for you. For Laura and I, talking is the easiest and because we’re talking to each other, we have this built in motivational system where like, okay, we’ve scheduled a time that we want to talk to each other and do this podcast, it’s just going to happen not matter what. That tends to be the easiest for us, and so it’s the thing that stays constant even when our lives get really busy, whereas the blogging is not as easy. It takes more effort on both of our parts because not only is it individual, you don’t have someone that’s saying you have to put this out, it’s really important that this gets done by this date. And also like I said, it just takes more effort. So that’s the kind of stuff that for us falls to the wayside when life gets really busy.

I think it’s important to just determine what is your baseline medium that you can put out on a regular basis no matter how busy life really gets? As long as you’re dong that, I think you can still, like Laura was saying, kind of maintain that incoming business at least to some degree so that you’re business doesn’t just completely fall apart when life gets busy. If you can brainstorm about what way is the best for you to put out content and do that, I think your life will be a lot easier moving forward with your business because that’s a fairly easy thing for you to put out into the world on a regular basis.

Laura: This could maybe be a good transition to the pros and cons of having an online business because I think we’ve already talked a little bit about some of the stuff that’s causing stress and some of the things that we need to do on a regular basis to keep our business running. One of the questions was what do we like about having our own business? What are some things that we don’t like about it? Let’s start with, I’m trying to think. Should we start with the pros or the cons? Which one would be better to start with?

Kelsey: That’s a good question. Let’s start with the pros. Let’s start with the good stuff. I think we’ve kind of talked a little bit about the pros here, and I think the pros are going to be different for every person because like Laura was saying, you kind of have to decide what negatives you can deal with and which ones are less stressful for you. You kind of get to choose which positives are the best for you and that will help you determine whether you want to start a business in the first place.

For me like I said, I knew I really wanted flexibility in my life in terms of when I can take time off and in terms of what hours of the day I want to work. For me, I wanted to just be able to work whenever my brain felt like it wanted to work whenever that motivation was there. For the most part, I really can do that. So of course, there are going to be days where having a really bad day and I have to talk to clients anyway. But for me, I can push through that and it’s fine and talking to my clients really for the most part is very enjoyable to me and can help put me in a better mood if my day didn’t start off great because my clients are so great.

I think that for me the positives are the flexibility, the ability to talk about what’s really important to me so nobody else is deciding the content that I need to put out or the stuff that I should be talking about to my clients. It’s really up to me and I’m able to pick out what I think is important to a client to focus on based on the things that they’re telling me. I pride myself on that kind of detective work that gets done in just talking to someone and maybe figuring out what’s going on with them. I’m able to do that in my job and I enjoy doing that because I’m good at it.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: I feel like just being able to do things that you’re really good at is awesome. And then I can decide what things I want to outsource. Just the act of posting to social media is a real pain for me, so now I’m trying out working with a social media company where they’re just kind of doing that part of posting it for me but I get to have input on the content. They just sort of know me and my business. We’ll see how that goes, but that to me already is something is that I’m like oh my gosh, this is great. I really love not necessarily having to worry about that on such a minute individual detail. I don’t have to remember to go on Facebook a couple times a day and actually post it. It’s already kind of taken care of for me, but I can just be in on the big picture level, like what kind of stuff do I want to be posting about?

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: To me it’s awesome to be able to decide, okay, this is the stuff that I want to be doing in this business and this the stuff that I want to hire out because I know it’s important and I know it needs to be done, but it’s not something that I want to spend tons and tons of time on.

Laura: Yeah, I think being able to hire people to help with the aspects of a business that either you’re not good at or you just don’t enjoy that much is really helpful.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: Also just picking the things that your expertise is best for. Just to give this podcast as an example, obviously you and I are doing the content for the podcast.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: We’re not hiring somebody to create any content for this podcast. We just talk about things. Maybe we’ll do a little prep beforehand, but usually it’s just coming straight from out knowledge and our expertise, that kind of thing. Then the editing of the podcast and the posting of it, that was something we were doing on our own before, and that’s not our skillset. That’s not something that is really making the best use of our abilities and our time, so we hired out. We are paying someone to do it now and it makes doing this part of it so much easier because we don’t have to worry about the nuts and bolts of actually getting this thing to the listeners.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Same goes with if you’re blogging but you want to have someone create the images, or you want to have someone do the social media post, or send the email out for the post, any of that stuff that takes extra time that you can outsource is always helpful if you have the budget for it. But even just talking about the actual parts of the business that you have to do yourself, like for example working with the clients, you have a lot of control over that too. That’s something that I know both of us have gotten a lot better at over the last couple years where we’ve been a lot more specific about the type of clients we want to work with.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: That’s not because we don’t want to work with other people, it’s just that there’s certain topics that we are passionate about and we want to focus more on that kind of client. That’s been nice because I think when you work in clinic or at a hospital, you kind of have to be working with different types of clients and different types of situations that maybe aren’t your skillset or maybe isn’t something you absolutely love or you’re super passionate about. Having the flexibility to do any topic you want, and then also being able to change that. Like if you’re doing something and you’re like I don’t know if this something I really enjoy doing, then you can just stop and nobody’s going to force you to do it.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That’s really nice. For me having my own business, I really feel like the flexibility, and I don’t know, just being able to kind of have a lifestyle that I like has been really nice.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: Maybe that sounds spoiled or something, but I think there’s a cultural expectation that people should work minimum 9 to 5, 40 hours a week, have a normal job, and not take random time off during the day. I really like that I’ve set my schedule up in a way that sometimes I’ll take a nap in the middle of the day.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Or sometimes I’ll not work on a day that I would normally take clients and I’ll go somewhere or I’ll just take off or whatever. I mean you definitely have to get to the point where you can have that flexibility. If you’re a new business, you may not be able to just like not work for a while. But I really like being able to make my schedule the way that I like. I like being able to set up a schedule that fits my optimal brain functioning. For me I generally try not to take clients before 10 in the morning because I like to have kind of a leisurely start to the day, have a slow breakfast, kind of warm up to the day before I start diving into clients. That helps me not only feel more energized during the call itself, but I feel like I can actually give better service if I’m not working at like 8:00 in the morning with somebody.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I’ll try to take at least an hour for lunch just to again have that break so that my brain isn’t just like going from one client to the next all day. Being able to flexible like that has really helped because it just takes advantage of what my preferred working style is and it doesn’t force me to have to conform to a different style of working that isn’t really optimal for my personal attention span and my ability to work a certain amount of time in a row. I really like that and like I said before, being able to work from anywhere is super helpful in my current personal life. Even if it wasn’t necessary, it’s just nice to be able to work remotely.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: This last week when I was on vacation being able to just jump on the computer in morning and do a couple hours of work and then get off and then go to the beach, that was really nice to be able to do that. If you don’t have a remote business, then when you take time off you either have to be pretty much off or like you just can’t take the time off because you can’t do the work you need to do while you’re away.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: I’d say that is probably the best part of owning a business for me.

Kelsey: Yeah, I agree.

Laura: Just being able to have a lifestyle that I feel like supports my physical and mental health. Maybe this sounds weird as well, but I also like that there’s a lot of, how do I describe this? I feel like with a lot of dietician positions there’s kind of like a maximum amount of income you can make, and then that’s it, and there’s not really a lot of room for growth and business advancement. I think both of us are very intelligent, capable women who could probably do any number of jobs that we wanted to do. Unfortunately with nutrition, the salaries for a lot of nutrition jobs are not great even though we work hard, and we have good educations, and the work that we do is very challenging in a lot of ways. I don’t always find that the compensation is matched to that level of expertise and training that nutritionists have.

That’s kind of a more selfish benefit is that as a business owner, you can charge the money that you want to charge and what you think is appropriate for your services. If you want to work harder and make more money, you can. If you want to take a break and maybe ride on your savings for a couple weeks, then that’s fine too. As someone who like I said, I feel like I probably could have done a lot of different jobs, I am glad our business allows us to have an income potential that I think matches our capabilities, if that makes sense.

Kelsey: Yeah. I think that makes perfect sense. That’s something I really love too. It’s like okay, if I want to really hustle, I can make more money. If I decide I want take more clients for the next month, I can do that.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: Earlier this year, I really wasn’t feeling well. I was dealing with mold issues and I kind of just took less clients. And yeah, I made less money, but that flexibility for me was so worth it because I felt like if I didn’t do that, I don’t know if I would have recovered to the degree I feel like I’ve recovered now.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: To me that was such an amazing benefit. And it sounds funny because it’s like well I was making less money, but that was really important to me at that point in time to be able to do that. And then if I decide I want to hustle, I can do that and I can make money.

It’s up to you when you’re a business owner how much you want to work, and how hard you want to work, and really how much money you want to make. I like that idea of being able to decide, okay, I feel like for the next year I need to just make a little bit more money because I’ve got the energy for it, I want to have more income, and I can do that. Or this next coming year I really want to take it easy. I feel like my body is maybe not doing so hot right now. I need to just take it easy a little bit and I’m okay with making a little bit less money because of that.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: That’s been really, really helpful for me and it think it’s been put into perspective because of recent health issues for me. But it’s something I never really would have thought about before stuff like that happened to me.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: And now I realize exactly how important that is.

Laura: Or even if it’s something like being a female business owner, I don’t know about you, but there may be a period of time where I need to do maternity leave at some point in the very distant future. That would be something that when you’re hired at a certain business, you only get a period of time to do paid maternity leave and then you’re expected to go back, orbasically if you wanted to be off for longer, you’d have to quit your job.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: That’s something as a business owner, obviously that’s not something I’m worried about right now, but my thought is that right now because I have the time to work a little harder, I do have a wedding that I’m trying save for, so that’s kind of motivating me to work a little harder. And then maybe once I’m married I might slow down a little bit, enjoy being married for a couple months, and then as soon as that kind of becomes my new way of living, I can start working harder again.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And then maybe if I feel like okay, right now I’m not a parent, I don’t’ really have to worry about taking time off, I can hustle and save and work a little harder now, and then eventually when I start having kids, I can slow down or take time off and maybe I’ll work part time for a while. There’s just a lot of flexibility with how hard you work. Again the financial thing definitely comes in there because you do have to decide okay, what amount of money do I need to live the life that I want that is working harder than what I need to earn that really worth it?

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: Maybe not. These are questions you have to decide what the answer is to, but I like that it’s a choice and not kind of like you’re just told this is what your salary is and this is what you’re expected to do.

Kelsey: Right.Yeah. I was just going to say that the other thing, like we were talking about our “Paleo Rehab” program at the beginning of this episode, is that with an online business depending on what you do, you can eventually start to not trade your hours for money. You can create something like a program and then be able to sell that for however much you want to charge for it. Yeah you’re putting in some live time maybe every time you launch it. Like Laura and I do live Q&A at least for now for “Paleo Rehab.” That takes some hours that we’re doing, but we’re not getting paid by the hour to do that program. We make however much money we make depending on how many people sign up for the program, and that’s it. You can increase your marketing efforts and sell to more people, but you’re still doing the same exact same amount of work.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: That to me is a really appealing thing too that you can start to do eventually. Creating an online program is difficult when you’re just starting to do that and it’s certainly takes a lot of upfront work, but then every time you launch it you’re making money for it and you’re doing the same amount of work every time.

Laura: Mm mmm.

Kelsey: That is something that if you don’t want to be working one on one with people, you can do it that way if that’s easier for you. Just the medium that you’re giving a service can make a big difference in what is stressful to you or not because some people find that working one on one is very stressful for them. If you’d rather do it in a group setting like that, you can certainly do it that way. And then you’re also, like I said, just making the amount of money that you’re making depending on how many people are signing up for a program like that, but you’re doing the same amount of work.

Laura: Right. Not to move on to anything negative….

Okay, so one of the cons of doing an online business that Kelsey and I, well really me just experienced is the loss of power when you are recording a podcast. If you’re wondering why my commentary stopped mid-sentence there, it’s because for whatever reason my power in my house flickered while we were recording and my computer shut off. I know I was talking about not having any skin in the game when you’re helping someone else launch their product and that’s one of things that can be a downside of running your own business is the stress of having a successful program launch. But here’s another little con is that you really do rely on technology to run your business, and if technology fails, then you’re in a little bit of trouble.

Kelsey: Yeah, and technology will fail, trust us more often than you would like. There’s this one client who lives in another country and every time we had tried to call each other on Skype, it never worked. We’d have to try Facebook chat and all these other things, and finally now Skype is working for us, but it’s like there’s’ no reason why it shouldn’t have worked multiple times in a row. But it didn’t, and it’s super stressful when you’re the one that’s like okay, this person is paying me for this. I have another client coming up in 45 minutes, I need to make this happen right now, and it doesn’t.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: It’s really, really stressful sometimes. Of course there’s nothing you can really do about it because technology just fails sometimes and that’s just the way of life.

Laura: Yeah. That can be a big stressor if your business is totally virtual and you lose connection, or you don’t have internet access, or technology fails, or your power goes out, or whatever is happening can cause a little bit of anxiety. And if it’s your business, obviously you’re on the line whereas if you’re at another job and the power goes out, there’s nothing you can do about it and you kind of don’t blame yourself.

I think there’s a lot of responsibility that comes from running your own business, but there’s also a lot of freedom involved and you really just have decide again if this is your flavor of poop sandwich that you want to eat when it comes to your work.

Kelsey: Yeah, that’s absolutely true. I’m trying to think of other negatives. I guess I would say another negative to consider is that especially when you’re starting out, your income is really all over the place probably like at least for the first year or so, or at least that was kind of the case for me. You can have a certain amount of income that’s basically guaranteed. You’re like okay, looking at the past few months, I can at least guarantee that I’m hopefully going to make this much, but anything other that is kind of a crap shoot.

That’s something you just have to consider as you start and it’s a reason why having either a full time or a part time job when you’re first starting out with your own business can make a lot of sense because you have that guaranteed income, you have health insurance most of the time, that kind of stuff, which that’s another negative I would bring up with self-employment. Especially if you’re not married to somebody who has health insurance that could be applicable to you, health insurance gets a whole lot more expensive and way worse. If you are dealing with any sort of health conditions, that could be kind of difficult.

There are certainly negatives financially when you’re first starting out, but overtime as you put more work into your business, that income should become a lot more steady. That guaranteed income basically just goes up overtime and like we were talking about before, you can hustle a little bit more or take it easy a little bit and you kind of know essentially how things are going to go in terms of like okay, if I hustle maybe I can make an extra $1,000 or $2,000 dollars this month. Or I might make that much less if I decide to not take a few clients that I normally do.

But when you’re first starting out, there’s just no telling a lot of times of how many clients you might get that month, so you need to be a bit more flexible with how much money you’re spending depending on how much you’re making and you might need to maybe live a poor college student for a little bit if you’re not doing anything else on the side.

Laura: I’m trying to think if I ever had to do that. I mean my income now is definitely a lot a higher when I first started, but I feel like it was always at least enough to live on.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: My cost of living has definitely gone up since I started my business, but there’s a lot of things that I pay for that I could easily cut out to budget if I needed to.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: It’s one of things that like, I don’t know, I do think having at least a part time job when you’re starting an online business is a really good idea. But if you have a significant other that you can rely on their income, or if your living at home or something with your parents you don’t have to worry about paying rent or anything like that, then you have a little bit more flexibility to start right away.

But I’d say on the whole, running an online business, Kelsey and I kind of already mentioned this, we’re so glad we do it and it’s definitely worth the stress of the financial aspect, the technology aspect. I guess one of the other potential cons that can come is having to be self-motivated all the time.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Which can be a little hard to maintain and sometimes it ebbs and flows definitely on my end. There’ll be times when I’m super pumped about it and there’ll be other times when I’m like, oh I don’t feel like doing this.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Like when the power went out a few minutes ago, actually it was a while ago at this point, but Kelsey and I were joking that we were a little worried that our recording had gotten lost and we found out that it hadn’t gotten lost. I was like if that recording had just disappeared, I would have quit. It was a joke, I mean I wouldn’t quit. But it’s just one of those things that sometimes you have experiences where you’re like why do I do this again?

Kelsey: Right, remind me.

Laura: It’s such a ridiculous thing. But I’d say overall, we’re both really glad that we do it. It’s just a matter of putting in the grunt work to get the business off the ground, and then now I think Kelsey and I are at the point where we just kind of maintain our business and then look for ways to expand.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: It’s taken a few years, so it’s not something you should expect to happen right away. You want to make sure you’re not just assuming that things are going to be all rainbows and butterflies and immediately successful when you start.

Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. But at least for me, and it sounds like for Laura too, it’s well worth the cons that come along with it. But like we said, you’ve got choose your own poop sandwich that you want to eat because there’s negatives to anything. It’s just the matter of what pros and cons really matter to you personally.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: Once you sit down and kind of go through the things that you value, the answer as to whether to start your own business will become a lot clearer to you.

Laura: Yeah, and we’re happy to talk about this topic again. I feel like we’ve talked a lot about how to become an integrative and functional practitioner, but we obviously have a lot of expertise on just business creation. And if people want to ask us further questions about that, feel free to submit those in the Contact tab at TheAncestralRDs.com.

I think next week we’re going to talk a little bit more about some health issues, but we did want to throw in a little bit of information about business stuff since there may be some of you out there that want to get started in an online business that could be health related, could be completely related to something not nutrition involving at all, but a lot of times the overall approach is going to be very similar.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Anyway, thanks for sticking with us through our little hiccup and hopefully you guys got a lot out of this episode. And we will look forward to seeing here next week.

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I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

I help nutrition entrepreneurs grow their income and their impact by packaging their brilliance into transformative coaching and consulting programs, and get crystal clear on their marketing strategy.

I'm on a mission to help nutrition business owners drop the hustle and come into alignment with their ideal business goals, so they can work from a sense of ease and abundance, and build the online business of their dreams. 

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