My RD Journey

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


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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?

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

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Working Through Business Slumps

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! If you read my last blog on EMR platforms, you will know that I just switched from paper/doc charting to an EMR! Let me tell you, this alleviated a lot of stress, time, and back-and-forth between clients for appointments and initial paperwork. No matter what platform you end up with, I would highly suggest looking into this for your business.

With the holiday just last week, there has been a major slump in business, which I kind of expected after 4 years of tracking the ebb and flow. I do have a lot of great clients who stay the course throughout the Summer; however, most of my new clients come in September once vacation time is over. This ebb and flow can happen in any business and you will feel it even more as an entrepreneur versus working for a company since the income changes too.

Normally, I schedule days where I don’t see clients so that I can work on my business (i.e. product development, content creation, etc) or so I can have some R&R. I try to have a list of on going to-dos to refer to quickly versus trying to figure out what to do in the moment.

During the Summer, there could be more days of administrative work than client seeing depending on holidays and such. I hit a Monday 2 weeks ago where I had 2 cancellations, 1 reschedule, and 2 client no-shows. What was supposed to be a productive day of seeing clients followed by working on product development turned into a slump of all slumps. While I should have been happy with the extra 3 hours I had to “be productive,” I really ended up unmotivated and downright frustrated.

After wallowing in self-pity for a bit, I did the following mini-exercise which I felt like got me motivated to move forward with the day. I hope this exercise helps you when your feeling an unexpected business slump.

1 – Wallow if you must for no more than 5-minutes
You can do this internally or even vent to a friend about it. Journaling can help in this situation too. Just get all of that negativity out!

2 – Do something non-business related
This can help you to clear your head of negativity and a lack of “productiveness.” I like to either cook a meal for myself, knit, go to the gym, or even go for a walk.

3 – Create an action plan for a 15-minute task
Now, it is time to get the creative juices and productivity flowing. Fifteen minutes is short enough to be “doable” but long enough for you to make progress and have sense of accomplishment. Think about something you have been putting off for the day, week or even month. In my 15-minutes, I ended up making a lesson plan template. I want my lessons to look more professional and consistent when I upload them to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers.

4 – Think about your “why”
Why is it important you do x, y, or z? What will your current or potential clients gain from your efforts? My “why” was not just for income purposes. I wanted to create more credible nutrition lesson plans from RDs in the marketplace.

5. Do it
Plain and simple. I did what I said I would, felt good about it, and even worked for another hour on products because I was motivated and redirected to a positive portion of my business! If after 15-minutes, you aren’t ready to move forward, that is completely fine too. Know your limits for the day and revert back to #2 if needed!

I feel like this simple exercise really helped me when I had an unexpected “slump” in my day and felt particularly unmotivated. I also find it to be really helpful to schedule in co-working dates and meetings with other professionals (dietitians or business owners) at least 2-3 times per month. I always feel encouraged and excited about my business after a coffee date!

One last thing I want to leave you with is more so on a more personal note. If your feeling like nothing is working to get you motivated in your business or in general, NEVER be afraid to ask for help. This could be asking for help from a friend, family member, or even a professional. Sometimes you need a more in-depth emotional work-through and that is 100% okay. I’m always here if any of you reading this need a call, video conference or even want to meet up to chat through some business slumps!


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Tips for Handling Client Cancellations

Welcome to MyRDJourney! I want to talk about handling those dreaded client cancellations. As much as we hate for a client to reschedule or cancel, things happen. There can be many reasons a client cancels on us: weather is bad, kids are sick, or they simply lost their motivation for eating healthy. How you handle your client cancellations can really set the tone for your practice and ultimately the relationship you have with your client. 

1st things 1st, make sure you have a cancellation policy in place that includes details on rescheduling appointments. Do clients need to call/email within 24 or 48 hours of the appointment? Do they need to go on your website to cancel?  Have your policy in writing and make sure the client is aware. You want to be transparent. Usually, I discuss my policy with my clients on their first call with me and include it in their appointment reminder email. I also have it posted to my website for ease of reference for the client. 

Since a lot of my clients use their insurance for the appointments, many do not realize the insurance plan will not cover cancellation fees. I make sure all of my clients are aware of this and ultimately what the charge would be if they reschedule, cancel or no-show last minute. 

Prior to the first appointment with a new client, they are required to review, complete, and sign all of my paperwork. This includes my practice policies (including late and cancellation fees), HIPAA information, privacy notices, client releases and a new client form. The hope is that the client will review everything in detail and sign that they acknowledge all of the information. Despite what you do to make the client aware of your policies prior to the appointment, you may still have clients who do not read the paperwork before signing or forget about it by the time of the session. Again, this is why I like to include the policy (in short) within my appointment reminder email (sent a week prior to the session).

One thing to think about with your policy is consistency. I am all about being flexible; however, you don’t want to be perceived as playing favorites with your clients if you waive the fee for one and not the other. So, create the policy, make the client fully aware, and be consistent in how you handle it. If you are flexible when a client cancels late for the first time, then do that for all of your clients.

You will get thicker skin with this, so don’t be afraid to put your foot down. Every client cancellation, late reschedule, or no show is money that you are not making and time that could have been spent helping others. Also, think about when you schedule a doctor’s appointment, they have similar policies in place too! 

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If you have any questions about cancellations and reschedules, feel free to leave me a comment below!


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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!

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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!

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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!


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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.