My RD Journey

From Undergrad -> Internship -> RD -> Private Practice!


Leave a comment

7 Ways to Take Your Business to the Next Level

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! Have you been feeling lately that you need to take your business to the next level? Maybe, do something that will get you out of the business slump I talked about in my last blog?

The time will come in your business when you need to step it up. You will know when that time comes. I started my practice in 2014 and every year, I felt like I took it up a notch. I started accepting insurance in 2015. I re-launched my website in 2016. I built new partnerships and ended poor ones in 2017.

I describe it as an “itch” you need to scratch. A time when things feel too repetitive and you crave more. A time when clients might be even asking for more. This time came for me a few months ago when I decided to launch a free, beta, weight management support group. I knew my clients were looking for more support between appointments; however, they couldn’t all physically make it to a location every week. Cue the virtual class!

If you are scratching your head at where to start in stepping things up, read on for my “7 Ways to Take Your Business to the Next Level.”

1 – Assess + Set Goals
Think about your business now and ask yourself these questions: What is working well? What is not working well? What do my clients want? What do I know my clients need? What part of my business really excites me?

In assessing my business, I realized I was inefficient in how I was scheduling and charting clients (cue the EMR platform). I also knew I wanted to have more of a “virtual” income, yet I wasn’t doing much about it (cue the virtual weight management support group).

2 – Find Your Niche (If You Haven’t Already)
If you don’t know what your niche is or who your ideal client is, ask yourself these questions: What are your passionate about? What do others say is a skill of yours? What is your vision? What are you good at? Finding your niche will help you create more (and better) content and will fuel your drive to do more in your business.

Identifying my niche was really hard for me since I felt like I had a lot of ways I wanted to go with my practice. I ended up narrowing down my ideal client to working adults who are struggling to eat healthy with a busy work-personal life. My ideal client is someone who has been on multiple diets in the past and is ready to make a lifestyle change and end the cycle of dieting. I am still fine-tuning my niche; however, this was a great starting point for me.

3 – Brand Yourself/Business
Something that is often skipped/overlooked when setting up a practice is the branding aspect. Do you have a website? Does all of your copy and content speak to YOUR business brand? What do you want your client to feel when they read your content or visit your website?

I knew I was at the point in my business where I needed a logo. I needed that branding, especially if I was going to create a stronger online presence. I also knew I needed to re-do my website since it was bleak and hard to navigate. If you are feeling stuck, reach out to you current clients or someone you work with professionally to get their input. From there, you can determine your next steps in branding.

4 – Enrich Your Offerings
What can you do to enrich what you offer your clients? What more are they looking for? What do they need to reach their goals?

In enriching my business/services, I added monthly coaching, meal plan templates (for use by RDs and clients) and more lessons to my TPT store. All of these add-ons were in line with my business goals of going more virtual. I also added in new client folders with recipes and handouts, which helped to enrich my clients’ face-to-face experience with me.

5 – Ramp Up Your Online Presence
I already mentioned refreshing your website if needed; however, think now about your overall online presence. What social media platforms do you use? What social media platforms do your clients use? How consistent are you with posting content? Can you team up with another health professional to do a guest blog/video?

I had been blogging and posting on social media consistently; however, I really wanted to expand into video content. I dabbled in YouTube in the past; however, video editing is not my cup of tea. A few months ago, I started doing Facebook Live videos and they became a hit with my clients. I love doing them and my clients refer to them quite frequently now!

6 – Invest in Yourself
I tell my clients all of the time to invest in themselves and their health. This could mean a financial investment (i.e. gym membership or more healthful foods) or even just time (i.e. going to the gym or cooking more). This point translates really well into business.

I invested in myself this year by attending the Today’s Dietitian conference (i.e. knowledge + business connections) and by purchasing sports nutrition materials to expand my knowledge in this area. I’m looking to study and get my PT certification by the end of the year. This is something I am passionate about for myself and know will help me better help my clients. What aspect of your business-self can you invest in?

7 – Take Care of Yourself
In taking your business to the next level, don’t forget to take care of yourself. The last thing you want is to get started only to burn out in a month.  Don’t let your personal life go or things that you enjoy doing. For me, I schedule in my gym time during the day to take a mental break and I knit at night to relax. How will you take care of yourself?

20180626_115916              20180702_100824.jpg

Leave a comment below and let me know how you plan to take your business to the next level!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Pros and Cons of In-Home Counseling Services

When I first started my practice, I thought I NEEDED to get office space. After a few months of searching, I realized I was either going to be paying the same amount I do for renting a duplex or have to travel a distance for something more feasible. Instead, I decided to try my hand at in-home counseling sessions. It would cut down on costs (as in overhead) and allow me to build a client basis without the added stress of paying monthly rent.

I found a lot of my clients were more comfortable being in their own home versus a formal office. It also allowed them to show me products in their cabinets and give me a visual for their environment. I could also set up sessions for cooking and meal prep, since so many tell me that making healthy food is difficult for them. I find my home-session clients are less likely to reschedule and rarely cancel since weather, running behind, etc is less of an issue.

Most of the insurance plans I take in my practice cover in-home counseling, which was make or break for me when my only option was in-home counseling. Some insurance companies in your area may have different regulations for nutritional counseling, as in only an office setting. I would suggest checking the provider resource center for each individual insurance company or calling your network coordinator to find out what applies to your service.

While home-counseling sessions are definitely a great option, there are also some heavy downsides. One of the biggest downsides to home counseling is the travel. Home-visits really cut down the amount of clients I can see in one day. I really try to chunk my client areas so I am not going all over the place; however, some days this works better than others. Ultimately, you are still paying for gas and wear-and-tear on your car, but, you won’t have the looming monthly rent payment due. This could be great for someone just starting out. I make sure to track all of my mileage and tolls to use for tax purposes.  

To be honest, you never REALLY know what you might walk into with a client appointment, let alone one in the home. I always do a phone consult first to get an idea of the client. A lot of my clients are from referrals from companies or business relations, so I feel comfortable entering the home. I also make it a point to recommend a quiet space in the home (usually the kitchen or living room). Some things you might want to ask before entering a client’s home is if they have a private space available in the home to speak and whether or not they have pets (especially if you are allergic or fear them).

While most of my clients are in-home and on-site (as in worksite wellness), I do have a few clients who would prefer an office-based setting. In that case, I utilize office space at my local Chamber of Commerce since I am a member there. I have met clients at coffee shops; however, this is not a very private setting and is not covered by insurance.

One last thing to keep in mind with home-visits or traveling appointments overall is what you will take with you. I always have with me a notepad, handouts, new client folder, business cards, paper portion models, and a plate picture or model for reference. I almost never bring a scale with me (unless specifically requested) since most clients have one at home. I also don’t like to focus on weight and instead healthy habits.

All-in-all, I wouldn’t change how I started my business; however, for the future, I am starting to move away from a lot of the face-to-face and building more of the virtual end. A lot of my clients want online support, books, programs, etc. The face-to-face component will always be apart of my business, but the amount of time will definitely be changing. I hope my pros and cons will help you in deciding where to take your business!

office-1078869_1280


Leave a comment

Private Practice – 1 Year in Review

I can’t believe I am saying this, but, I have officially been in full-time private practice for 1-year! I have had my practice since 2014; however, December 5th of 2016 was when I left my safe, full-time 9 to 5 job to grow my business.

So much has changed in just one year. I now have a full client load, in which I am scheduling about 6-weeks out for appointments. I am comfortable and competent with billing and calling insurance companies for claims. I eliminated aspects of my business that were just a poor avenue of income or a drain on my emotional well-being. I built and maintained partnerships with companies to bring wellness to them. I started teaching at the college level for the first time and am able to continue doing so with my practice in 2018. There are just so many wins I have had with my business and I am grateful to all of my friends/family who have given me guidance and encouragement along the way.

For today’s post, I wanted to share with you just some of my tips/insights from being PorrazzaNutrition for a full year.

Diversify 
I have had many partnerships change over just a few months. Some, I ended due to lack of professionalism. Some, were a steady source of referrals until they hit a business slump, which caused my client intake to decline too. All-in-all, make sure you reach out and connect with a variety of businesses to get your name out there. Don’t just rely on one company/partnership to make or break your business. Having a diverse number of partnerships will also put you in a better bargaining position, should that time come.

Find Your Passion and Motivation 
What motivates you to be in private practice? Is it the flexibility? Is it the freedom of designing your own path? Is it being able to help a greater network of clientele? Find out what motivates you! If I get overwhelmed or stressed, I stop and think about WHY I am here in the first place. This can really help me to get over the negativity I am feeling and push me to do more.

Always Make Use of Your Time
Being an entrepreneur means that you ride the roller coaster of financial and emotional ups and downs. If you find your business in a bit of a slump, maybe around the holidays, do something productive. Can you work on social media posts, blog topics, website design, or new programs? During my free time, I like to divide my days into “business” and “personal.” I make a list of things I want to accomplish when I don’t have clients to be able to grow my business. On the other side of things, I brainstorm what personal items I want or need to get done. I try to stick to the hours or days I determined I would work on my business to keep a personal boundary for myself.

Create a Positive Support System
The support I have gotten from my boyfriend, family, and friends has really lessened some of my bad days. Find at least one person that can be a sounding board for you. Someone who can tell you that you can do it. Someone who can push you to do more than you think is possible. Someone who can tell you when something is a terrible idea (it has happened to me on a few occasions). If you don’t have anyone personally you can count on for the moment, look to online groups. I am in a few different ones on Facebook and also within email threads. It’s nice to see you are not alone in your efforts and that many have been in your same shoes. It’s also a really awesome feeling to be able to support someone else in their private practice journey.

Take Time to Assess 
I have been keeping a business journal since the first day I started my business full-time. This has been a really useful tool for me. I write about positive and negative things I encounter in my practice, brainstorm new ideas, or just vent when I need to. Over the months, I can go back and see how far I have come in business and also reflect on some of my successes. I feel like keeping a journal has been a very grounding experience and also a way for me to just write and move on from something I may be overthinking.

Take the Chances
You never know what you might become or what you might do in the next month or year. So, don’t limit yourself by saying, “I can’t.” Take the opportunities when they arise, and not just for financial reasons, but for experience and growth. Network with others, keep your business connections, and stay open to new possibilities.
1


1 Comment

Business Planning for 2018

The holidays are fast approaching and that means 2017 is coming to a close! I feel like this year flew by for me. This was my first year as a full-time business owner and I have loved every minute of it (even the stressful ones). Over the past few months, I found myself working IN my business versus ON it. I realized with overbooking myself, I was stunting my business growth. While the income was great, I was just going through the motions daily without creating anything new or challenging myself.

With that, I decided to start working on my business goals and strategy for 2018. I wanted to have a plan in place so I can start taking action steps for the many ideas that I have. Below are some of the questions I asked myself when thinking about my 2018 plan.

Questions to Ask Yourself
1. What is your ultimate vision for the end of 2018?
-Think of what you want your business to look like by Dec 2018. What does your day-to-day include? What is your schedule like? What types of clients are you seeing? This can help you to identify goals and action steps to take monthly and daily.

2. What are your large goals for the year?
-This could be launching a practice or starting a new program. Think about larger goals being more long-term (i.e. to accomplish in 6-8 months).

3. What are your smaller goals for this year?
-This could include working on marketing to local businesses or incorporating more social media posts. Think about smaller goals as being more short-term (i.e. weekly or monthly).

4. Why is all of this important?
-Think about the importance of each of your goals. This will help with driving your motivation and also developing a targeted strategy for building and marketing.

5. What pitfalls do you want to avoid?
-Think about the hangups you had this year in business. Did you tend to overbook yourself? Are you doing too much on your own? Are you lacking personal time? Are you saying yes too much? Be aware of the things you want to work on and build them into your goals and ultimately your schedule. Write out monthly reminders to yourself to help avoid these pitfalls throughout the year.

After I asked myself the questions above (doesn’t have to be in this order), I brainstormed all of the steps I needed to take for each of my ideas and goals. I actually did this over a few days while on the train and waiting for appointments. After I had a comprehensive list, I organized the steps into a logical order and began to map them out on my calendar as due dates.

I also planned out the dates I wanted to schedule clients and when I would be working ON my business. One of my main goals for this year is to not overbook myself and instead stick to the boundaries I set. Although this will include my having to say “no” sometimes, I know this will be really important for my business and my sanity!

I hope this post helps you to plan out a successful 2018! Happy holidays!

planner-2428868_1280


Leave a comment

Learning to Relax in Your Business

I am finally getting back into the swing of the week after being on vacation. My boyfriend and I scheduled a last minute (i.e. 3 weeks ago) trip to Nassau, Bahamas for my birthday, which was amazing! I would highly recommend Nassau for first time travelers or any travelers for that matter.

20171030_125855.jpg

Before going away, I was anxious about “leaving” my business and teaching positions for 6 days (I teach online and face-to-face at a local community college). Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to go away; however, this would be the first time that I was this busy AND going somewhere with no cell service and an unreliable WiFi connection.

The first couple of days, I was still able to get on my email and check-in with my classes. After about the 3rd day, the WiFi tapped out. It was honestly a blessing in disguise for me. It made me focus more on relaxing versus trying to stay on top of everything. Instead of checking email on the beach, I was reading a leisure book. Instead of grading papers in the morning, I was writing or doing a crossword on our balcony. I could really just relax and de-stress since there was nothing I could do about the cell service and WiFi. I actually felt like I had a break and was on vacation, which is how things should be!

After coming back from vacation, I had a few days of catching up on emails and calls; however, everything was perfectly fine. There were no major issues and the small issues that did come up were resolved quickly in an email or call. I did all of that worrying in the beginning for absolutely nothing. What was even better was that I felt super recharged coming back. I was excited to get back into my business and teaching. I had some new ideas for my business and also mental clarity about issues I was getting hung up on.

20171030_125848

My goal for the next couple of months, especially with the holidays coming up is to really just take that time to relax and step away from my business/teaching. This means turning my phone off at the gym (and not answering emails on the treadmill). This means putting my phone on silent while doing other things I enjoy like cooking or reading so I am not tempted to answer. This means not having my phone out at the dinner table so I don’t break conversations for insignificant emails. This also means setting and sticking to the boundaries I set between my business and personal life.

All in all, I had a wonderful vacation and I look forward to taking some more time for myself, without giving in to temptations to multitask with my business. I know that this will improve my motivation and also recharge my batteries when I am feeling burnt out. I challenge you to take the time to step away from your business (or any job) for a few moments, hours, or weeks for just yourself!

 


Leave a comment

Ask the Dietitian (Student Edition)

Welcome back to My RD Journey! I am finally getting into a groove of teaching and running my business. I am looking forward to the holiday break when I can work on planning some more online packages for my clients. My goal is to have a fully functional online business with products and downloadable content to lighten up my face-to-face service. All in good time.

Over the past week, I moderated two career panels with Dietitians for students at college-level. The students had a lot of great questions and it prompted me to expand more on some of the topics in today’s blog. I have been thinking about doing an, “Ask the Dietitian,” within my blog anyways and I figure that this would be a great topic to start with!

How do you get experience?
For both the dietetic internship (DI) and future jobs, experience is going to be key. For RDs-to-be, you can start with your local hospital. See if you can land a position as a food and nutrition aide in the kitchen. If no-one is hiring, look at volunteer positions. Can you volunteer at a hospital, long-term care facility, food bank, food pantry, soup kitchen, etc? Reach out to local RDs and see if you can shadow them or help on a project (like a class). One really awesome thing that a fellow RD said this past week was that it isn’t necessarily the type of position you get, but the experience YOU gain from it and how that can be related back to dietetics. Let’s say you are a server at a restaurant. You could be gaining customer service skills and food safety knowledge; all of which are critical in dietetics.

How do you deal with the monetary aspect of the DI?
Start saving now! Put away that Birthday money. Put your tips and checks right into the bank. Think twice about spending on frivolous items.  I didn’t realize until my Sophomore year of college that there was a DI AND it was unpaid AND we paid them AND it was after graduation. I worked since I was 14-years-old, and I was used to putting away the money I earned, since my parents were huge on saving (thank you Mom and Dad). Besides saving, look at internships that offer financial aide, scholarships, and/or stipends. Also, do some research into scholarships from the Academy of Nutrition and your state and local groups. From what I hear about these scholarships, they often have minimal students even apply, so your chances are good!

Can you work during the DI?
Going along with the previous question, yes you can work during the DI. A lot of internships will tell you not to do so; however, it really depends on your work ethic and level of time management. I worked weekends during my DI and the occasional weeknight. I know other interns at the time, who could barely keep up with the workload, let alone a side job. If you can handle a job on the side, without sacrificing your learning experience, great. Just remember to be clear with your boss on what the DI entails. Look for positions that are flexible with hours and can accommodate a changing intern schedule. Even if you don’t work during your DI, you still want to make sure you plan your time well to accomplish all of your competencies and assignments.

What are some of the top skills for the DI and career that you feel would lead to success? 
I wrote a blog on this topic a few months back; however, I want to hone in on one really key point, “Never burn a bridge in dietetics.” Really though, the world of dietetics is so small! The dietitian who took my position at my last job before starting my practice full-time had interned with a Dietitian I knew and went to school with. I learned about my current teaching role from an RD I connected with about a year ago and kept in contact with on social media/listservs. I would have never known about the teaching position or maybe even gotten the job had I not been friendly with her. So, even if you don’t think you will need a connection, always keep it open and professional. Save business cards. Follow-up with old preceptors. You never know when you might run into that person again!

glasses-272399_1280

Feel free to post a comment with your question for the Dietitian! I will answer and include in my next “Ask the Dietitian” post! 


Leave a comment

Business Lessons Learned – Letting Go

This past month, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do long-term with my business. One major thing I learned is that it is okay to just let go. Let go of aspects of your business that are not working. Let go of hangups you have on moving forward. Let go of bad business connections.

I used to think of letting things go as a sort of moral failure; that I just wasn’t working hard enough at whatever it was to make it succeed. The fact is that I have changed since I started my business and I can guarantee many of you reading this have done the same at some point in your career. Maybe the change was gradual and you didn’t even notice it right away or maybe it was sudden and out of necessity. I needed the change in my business to become a better and more well-rounded professional. Letting go does not mean you didn’t put in the time and effort for success. It is not to be seen as a “failure,” but a learning experience, opportunity for growth, or chance to try something new.

I challenge you to look at your business with an outside perspective. What is eating at your time and not producing results? What connections are more damaging to your business and/or productivity than they are beneficial? What can you you let go of for the opportunity to grow?

Earlier this week, I sat down at my business journal and just brain dumped what I was thinking. I wrote down things I wish I had known (and did now), tips for myself, frustrations, “aha” moments, just everything. I filled almost 4 pages with random thoughts and it was actually quite invigorating. Going back a few days after writing, I realized there were some gems in my string of random thoughts. If you have a rough day (or month) or even a great one, take a few moments to just write out your thoughts on paper. No judgement. No worries about grammar. Just write and see what realizations you come to have about yourself and your business. This could help you in taking the next step in your business or changing the way you run things.

Below are just a few of the many business tips and realizations I brain dumped that day.
-I think I would like (and need) a secretary to help with fielding calls and scheduling appointments. (This made me look into online scheduling software).
-I like guiding and teaching, which make me want to search out more opportunities to do presentations and also develop more programs to coach or work with other Dietitians.
-Some days, I am just completely unmotivated and that is okay. Every day won’t be super productive. Just as long as those unmotivated days don’t become an issue for business.
-Mid-day gym sessions really boost my productivity and momentum.
-A support system can really make or break you. Just having that 1 person makes a world of difference.
-Some days you just work late.
-I wonder how other people see me and my business. I wonder how I could gauge this.
-I need to DO more than THINK. I spend too much time planning and overthinking that this sometimes leads to inaction.
-Relating to your clients is key. Trust begins here and they feel safer opening up.

Have you ever just brain-dumped in a journal? What “aha” moments did you have? Leave a comment and let me know!