How I Built My Online Health Business To Be Stress-free and Streamlined
As part of Stress Awareness Month, this is my story and top tips for others who are considering making a change and building their own health business or side hustle.
Through my education, I felt the intuitive pull towards helping people manage their health and medical conditions through food, so, naturally this led to a career as a Dietitian. I specialised in Paediatrics and worked for the NHS in a busy London teaching hospital and later at a children’s hospital on the South Coast. After an eight-year stint in NHS management, I returned to clinical practice where the last 5 years of my 22-year NHS career, were working as a Consultant Dietitian.
At this stage, I was at the top of my game; I’d done everything, even a PhD at one point, but I longed for more… I felt truly stuck as an NHS Consultant, knowing that I’d reached a glass ceiling, but it still wasn’t enough for me. In truth, I didn’t know what to do next; but, I knew that the only thing I could expect ‘more’ of was; stress, burden and red tape. I was so frustrated and felt stuck, being told who I was and wasn’t allowed to help. It didn’t seem right that I had to decline referrals for children who I knew I could help.
I knew I had to hatch an escape plan! I was fired up and ready to go and so this was when I first dipped my toe into the online world and set up my side hustle, in order to reach more families - far more than I could via a private practice.
This went really well… but, every time I thought about going full-time freelance, I kept having this limiting belief say to me; ‘you’ve worked so hard to get to Consultant, you shouldn’t give it up so easily’ or ‘you’re too much of an introvert, Sarah!’ and ‘what if I fail’- the imposter syndrome felt very real and the limiting voice was very loud!
However, when I lost my lovely mum in 2018, I knew it was time to take my side hustle more seriously and listen to my intuition, because life is too short to let the imposter syndrome win – isn’t it!? So, I set about turning my sidelines into a full time profitable business…. and, guess what - it worked!
In July 2018, I went all in and almost 5 years later, I have now created my dream business. I am currently reaching around 130K families each month with my expertise and knowledge via my online platforms.
Over this period, I have also consulted for brands including; Heinz, Annabel Karmel, Hovis, Tommee Tippee, Burger King, Spar and Aptamil. I have also ghost-written three books for famous authors, as well as writing ‘Love At First Bite’ my baby-weaning book for Thermomix. I have also featured in various magazines and media, sharing advice to help other parents raise happy healthy eaters.
I now have full independence to make decisions without the rules, restrictions and red tape of working for the NHS or someone else. I’m able to help thousands of people in a way that feels stress-free, easy and aligned…. and I make more money than I ever imagined! But, the real joy for me is in having the freedom and time to spend with my husband and family.
All of the above, are why I am passionate about helping others achieve this lifestyle too. I’m proof that it’s possible for you! I’m not going to lie, there is hard work to be done and it takes dedication, focus and purpose, in order to create a successful freelance business or side hustle – but the dream can become a reality.
I now work with other health professionals to grow their online business, teaching them the strategies and tactics they need, to have a thriving freelance practice. As well as attracting 1:1 clients, I show them how to help even more people with online offerings, whilst remaining in full integrity.
These are my initial seven simple steps to consider to ensure building your health business or setting up your side hustle is stress-free and streamlined.
1. Stand by Your Mission Message – It’s time to be confident with what it is specifically that you want to be known for. Your mission message is what attracts perfect clients to you, (the kind you really want to work with, who bring joy to your day) so you don’t need to go looking for them.
2. Know Your Niche - Yes, I know many of us don’t want to be tied to just one speciality, but it’s very hard to run a business as ‘jack of all trades’. It starts by understanding your clientele and their problems and dreams and communicating this to them in a way they resonate, that’s how to get your business noticed amongst the sea of others.
3. Where will you Share Your Message? Once you know what exactly you want to share and who to share it with, you need to consider the best way to do this. If you love writing, maybe you’ll blog. If talking is more your thing, consider video’s or podcasts. Whichever format you choose you’ll need to produce content with regularity and consistency so that people get to know you, your business and how you can help.
4. Expanding Your Reach – This is an extension of point 3 and is your visibility strategy. Successful businesses are those that are everywhere. You can choose social media to tell people about your new blog, video or podcast or if your not a fan of social, find others who share similar audience demographics but aren’t competing for work and offer to be a guest on their podcast, video show, group programme or write a guest blog.
5. From Browsers to Buyers – Those people who know you (from discovering your blog/podcast/video), need to like and trust you before they decide to work with you and the best way to nurture the relationship is via email. People love getting valuable things for free, so think about what your perfect clients desires are and make your freebie a solution for them, just something small, a quick win. Maybe it’s a shopping list, a supplement comparison guide, a meal plan or a mini recipe book.
6. What Will You Sell? Consider different options with this one, not everyone wants a 1:1 consultation and yet that’s the only offer many freelance health professionals have. People are time poor and so an e-book, short mini course or Netflix style meal plan service may actually meet their needs better. Successful businesses are those who provide what their customers want, not what they want to provide their customers.
7. Hello, renewed sense of purpose! Finally, you can feel passionate about your work again. Hooray! Really connect with your mission, purpose and why – remind yourself of this daily so you can ensure each step you take is purposeful and towards your ultimate mission and goal. When you do this you embrace a new kind of energy – there is no more hitting ‘snooze’ and dreading your day. You’ll soon be bouncing out of bed, excited to make a start on work that you love.