My RD Journey

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


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Top 10 Skills for Dietitian Entrepreneurs

Have you debated going the entrepreneurial route? Thinking about starting a private practice as a Dietitian? You may be wondering if you have what it takes to succeed. After being in business for 3 years now, I have learned a lot about my skills and what I need to hone in on to have my practice thrive.

Below, I outline 10 different skills/traits that are crucial to your success, whether it be in private practice or in another business venture. While you may not feel that you are strong in all of these areas, the more you push yourself and your comfort level, the more enhanced these skills will become.

#1 – Passion 
Whether you will enter the realm of entrepreneur as a Dietitian or any other professional, you need to be passionate about what you do. This passion will drive your business and fuel your motivation through tough times.  Your passion will resonate with clients and show them that you truly care about what you do.

#2 – Perseverance
Throughout business, you will have many ups and downs with both income and overall success. Contracts may fall through, clients may drop out, your business may change, etc. Perseverance is key to keeping yourself from throwing your hands in the air and walking away. All of your hard work will pay off!

#3 – Self-Confidence 
While you may not feel confident in every aspect of running a business, be confident in your niche, your talent, what you bring to the table. As an entrepreneur, you are constantly selling yourself and your products/services. If you don’t believe in yourself and have confidence in your abilities, why should prospective clients or companies?

#4 – Self-Motivation
As an entrepreneur, you are the boss. You don’t have a manager telling you what to do at all hours of the day. You are not walking into an office where there is a list of duties or set of expectations for your role. YOU create that role. YOU create those expectations. Can you motivate yourself when no one is standing over your shoulder? If you are struggling with how to motivate yourself, take some time to figure out what drives you to succeed. Is it making more money? Having more freedom? As an entrepreneur, I can say from experience that you won’t necessarily feel motivated, or confident for that matter, every single day. You should be able to motivate yourself and be a self-starter at least 90-95% of the time.

#5 – Strong Work Ethic 
Having a strong work ethic can be described in a number of different ways. I like to think of quality, integrity, and responsibility as attributes that someone can exhibit within their “strong work ethic.” Your quality of work and service will speak for itself and drive clients to your door (I have seen this first hand without the use of paid marketing).

#6 – Ability to Multitask 
Being the boss means that you may wear many hats (especially if you work alone), but, it can also mean you oversee many departments and thus need to be aware of the inner-workings of each. I feel that there is a fine line between what is effective and what is overwhelming and hinders production. When I think of multitasking, I think of the various things I need to accomplish on a daily basis: posting to social media, seeing clients, fielding calls, answering emails, writing content or lessons, etc. Some of these things may happen simultaneously. The key is not stretching yourself too thin, but managing these tasks efficiently.

#7 – Effective Time Management
Number 6-8 all go hand-in-hand. With having multiple items on your plate each day, you need to learn how to effectively manage the time you have. Know when your best hours are to work on administrative tasks. Know when you tend to see and schedule clients. Remember to leave some time for yourself daily (if not weekly) to recharge your batteries. Running on empty will hinder your productivity and ultimately ruin plans for time management. Before you know it, you are sucked into 3-hours of Netflix and haven’t accomplished a thing for your business.

#8 – Organization
I would say the number one skill to have as an entrepreneur is a high level of organization. This is especially important in the beginning stages of your business planning. If you are a Dietitian and plan to become an insurance provider, you will need to keep track of applications, billing codes, claims, etc. Being organized means that you manage your time well, finish tasks by their deadline, and are on top of scheduling. One of the key things I have learned with keeping myself organized is to prioritize my day-to-day tasks and anticipate when I will accomplish the non-priorities. I also found having systems in place for my administrative tasks is helpful. I have a system for how I schedule clients, how I store files, how I chart, etc.

#9 – Flexibility 
You may have your day or even week planned to a perfect T and then, disaster hits. Two clients need to reschedule, you get 2 new calls of potential clients, your seminar outline is taking longer to write than you thought, etc. Within any role, as an entrepreneur or an employee, you need to be flexible. Things will happen that will throw your day off. Take a minute to regroup and then prioritize what is ahead of you. Being flexible means using many of the other skills mentioned before: time management, organization, strong work ethic, etc. Every day will not go as planned and that is okay!

#10 – Continuous Learner
One final skill I want to touch on is being the continuous learner, which can be related to the field of nutrition or business. Never stop challenging yourself or pushing your boundaries. Continue to learn, enhance your skills, and become a polished professional.

After reading through this post, what can you identify as your strengths and weaknesses? As I mentioned earlier, you may not feel strong in all of these areas of your business. If you do feel one or two areas need improvement, can you take an online course to enhance those skills? Or, could you take on a partner or an employee that would fulfill these tasks? As an entrepreneur, you may not be able to handle everything in your business, especially as it begins to grow. Identify what your are priorities and where you can delegate or outsource other tasks.

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

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For more information on preparing yourself for private practice, click the LINK.

For tips on starting a private practice, click the LINK.

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Tips for Running Nutrition Programs

Over the past few years, I have been creating and running nutrition programs. I have done multiple seminars for adults and classes for children. It is often intimidating to stand up in front of everyone and give that expert knowledge of yours. For those of you who run nutrition programs, or are looking to, here are some of the tips I have.

Tip #1: Prepare
This tip is very generally. It means to not only prepare your material ahead of time (definitely don’t wing it), but to also mentally prepare yourself. If you have your content created, reviewed, and ready for presentation, you will be a lot calmer than if you rushed through it last minute and haven’t looked it over.

Tip #2: Dress professionally
First impressions are very important! Your participants will be judging you before you even begin to speak. You want to look the part. I also found that with being younger, people often discredit what I say or don’t take me seriously. Dressing professionally has helped me to be seen as more of an authority figure.

Tip #3: Arrive early
If you have a lot of equipment, I suggest arriving at least 30 minutes before start time. I found it useful to set up all my handouts, extra pens, business cards, etc on a table off to the side of the front of the room. This was a lot better than fumbling around if someone needed another pen or extra paper. Having materials set out makes the class run smoothly. Also, some participants arrive early. This gives you time to chat with them and make them and yourself a bit more comfortable.

Tip #4: Prepare for set-backs
This tip goes hand-in-hand with tip #3. Besides setting up your room and materials, you want to be early in case of problems that arise. Let’s face it, as much as we prepare, something can always go wrong last minute. I recently began working with a projector, which was complicated to find, let alone set-up. I was in one room with all my materials set-up, half the projector, tables and chairs. I had to move all of my materials, tables, and chairs, to another room to use a different computer system. Since I arrived early, and with the help of some awesome employees, I was able to get set-up and start pretty much on time. Preparing for set-backs means you also have to go with the flow when problems arise. Instead of focusing on “why me,” focus on “what can I do to fix this.”

Tip #5: Have confidence in yourself
Believe in yourself and what you are doing! Stand talk, speak clearly, and speak loudly (not yelling though). Think positively about your program or presentation. Trust your knowledge and your abilities.  Greet your participants as they walk in, and if you can, shake their hands. This gesture helps to break that awkward barrier before you start.

Tip #6: It’s okay to not know an answer
One of the things I was worried about most was that I would get hard questions, not know the answers, and I would lose all of my credibility. When you run a nutrition class, yes you will get questions; however, if you know what you are teaching you will be fine. You know more than you think you do. Also, you don’t have to know everything. If you don’t know the answer to a question, give your best response and be honest about not knowing. I have had a lot of questions on new products or studies, some of which I have never heard of. Sometimes, with my science background, I am able to give an educated response. Other times, I have to say “I haven’t read much on the topic of _____, that will be something I will look into more.” If you are seeing the same class again, you could also tell your participant that you could research it and get back to them.

Tip #6: Enjoy what you are presenting
If you teach nutrition, more than likely you are in the field because it is a passion of yours. Bring that passion to your class. If you are excited and passionate about what you are teaching, it will show. This will also help to motivate the people in your class to be more excited about it too.

****These tips can also relate to speeches/presentations in class.