It’s time for reflection. It’s been a year since I officially launched my business and I’d like to share my experiences with you. Besides, how much do we really know about what goes into a business? From experience, I can say that I thought I knew, but there’s so much more to it than I thought!
2018 was full of ups and downs, lots of learning, new ventures, self-discovery, and decisions made, and it’s all leading me and my business to a new place. That also means I get to connect with you in new ways, which I’m stoked about!
Before I unveil where I’m heading next in detail, which I’ll get to in next week’s post, I’d like to work my way back to how JMC got started. First, let’s go back to 2017…
December 2017: Before JMC
In the closing months of this year, I was managing the kitchen site for a juice cafe. It was a new part of the industry for me, having worked mainly front-of-house in years prior, and we were constantly short-staffed. The conditions didn’t help, being that as the months grew colder, so did the kitchen space, which made it tougher for me to stick it out. I was burning out fast and knew in my heart I wasn’t meant to be in that position. I was meant to be an entrepreneur practicing what I went to school for, something that I loved. So, with much deliberation, I made the decision to leave my position just prior to the holiday season and start my business as JMC, Holistic Nutritionist, full-on in 2018.
January 2018: Where it all began
This month was all about setting up my practice and indulging in some self-discovery practices to help guide my decision-making surrounding my business. I wrote, developed recipes, got more into food photography, and gave myself space to develop something true to myself. I also completed my training hours for my level 1 Essentrics certification and started writing the exams.
This month was fun, but somewhat directionless when it came to income. I started scampering for work and found myself linking up with a practitioner at a local integrative health clinic. Without giving it much thought, other than the fact that I thought I should be practicing one-on-one with clients, I said yes to taking up clinic space. Step one was done.
February 2018: Starting it up
I was so excited to start practicing! I had my website up and running, had a physical location to meet clients, and was starting to connect virtually with members of the community via my weekly newsletter. The ball started to roll and initially I saw a couple of clients, but wasn’t really sure how to connect with more people. I hadn’t yet chosen a niche market to focus on, which I do think is important, so I was basically grasping at straws. I started doing the things I thought I should be doing, still not really feeling totally like myself in the process. Something was missing, but I pressed on.
March 2018: Fully certified
On March 1st, I officially became a certified Essentrics instructor. Wahoo! I could teach exercise classes to others based on a practice that I loved. This was great and an accomplishment that was in the works since mid-2015, so it made me feel great.
For some reason, however, I kept putting teaching on the back burner in favour of other things, as you’ll see. Other projects or commitments took time and energy away from this, which was my way of filling up my plate so I wouldn’t have to teach because I was essentially scared to. And as you’ll see, my business kept getting more and more complex so I had even less time to teach. Lesson learned: face fears head on and they won’t be fears anymore!
April 2018: Making more connections
Not having done much in the way of farming since I left the B.C. interior in the summer of 2017 and still missing it, I reached out to a local urban farming company about volunteer opportunities to get my hands dirty and continue learning during the 2018 growing season. This, I quickly realized, was what made my heart full as it helped round out my long-term personal and professional interests.
Nutritional consultations were great, but being in the garden communicating with nature is just what I needed to keep my head on straight. I started volunteering once a week, sometimes twice, to keep myself busy and stay balanced. I met and worked with a great group of people and exercised my brain and my body in the process. I truly felt alive, which was great, but as it was a volunteer position it didn’t further me financially, which wasn’t all bad, but was a constant reminder that I still needed to beef up my client list.
May 2018: Time to regroup
I had been in practice for a few months and headed home for a holiday to see my friends and family. While I was there, it hit me that I didn’t have much to show for my efforts. I wasn’t feeling confident in selling myself to others, asking for money for my services, connecting with what I was offering, or that I had the answers to people’s questions. Something wasn’t right, but I kept on and when I got back to town I took on a new contract position with a great company as a culinary nutritionist to meal prep for others in their homes. This meant steady (or at least steadier) income, which the clinic was proving not to be.
PURE HONESTY MOMENT: I believe this to be in large part my fault. I realize now that in trying to build up my practice, I wasn’t being honest enough about what I wanted to do to help others or in how my business was developing. Instead of portraying myself as someone who had a steady business, I wish I had spoken to the world differently, more openly and truly. As a side note, there’s a reason I don’t connect well with platforms like Instagram or Facebook - they’re dishonest. They have a tendency to naturally allow people to put on a facade, even if they don’t know they’re doing it, much like I did. I look back at what I posted and see someone who was afraid to ask for clients, but instead just showed the world what she was up to, not really connecting to people in a way that would bring us together. I was hiding, because I really was scared I didn’t have what it takes. Self-discovery was at play here, for sure!
June 2018: Becoming a bit of a workhorse
Cooking for others was feeling really good! It helped offset the lack of clients I was seeing at the clinic due to the approach of summertime. (For those of you who don’t know, Vancouverites leave town all summer). It was a relatively new thing for me to try, even though I had kitchen cooking experience from my previous kitchen manager position. It was fun and allowed me to incorporate more creativity into my work, as well as growing new relationships with my new teammates and clientele.
I worked a lot, not only because I needed the money but because I wanted the experience. It was a good time of year to be busy - the weather was perfect and traveling to clients’ homes came easy. My immediate response to this type of work was ‘This is easy. I’m good at this. It’s comfortable. This feels right.’ Ding ding ding! (More on this later).
July 2018: Starting to find my rhythm
Cooking was going well, my volunteer schedule was on track, and I was finally starting to see how I could make a life out of what I’d brought into my business. The past few months had been a bit piecemeal - a lot of covering others’ shifts - and I wanted to formulate a regular schedule with regular income and regular clients that made me fulfilled.
Until this point I was still losing money renting space at the integrative clinic, but at least I was able to bring in a good amount with cooking. I could see what a comfortable schedule would look like and aimed to achieve it while hoping to bring Essentrics back into the fold, so I put more energy into filling my meal prep schedule and finding places to teach Essentrics.
August 2018: Roadblocks
Certain things started to derail my plans…
First off, my regular meal prep clients all started changing their schedules and dropping off due to travel plans or schedule changes. That wasn’t good, as it meant my regular income was fluctuating too much.
Secondly, business at the clinic hadn’t picked up and I really wasn’t feeling like it was for me. After months of trying to figure out when to set my clinic hours and which types of services to offer to best serve people, I was wearing thin. I didn’t have enough investment because I didn’t have a strong enough focus. I knew that it would take more time to get there than I was willing to commit to at the time.
Lastly, I was starting to get homesick. I freaking love Vancouver and would live there or anywhere in beautiful British Columbia for the rest of my life if it weren’t for the fact that the most important people to me mostly live in Ontario. I’d been battling an internal struggle of whether to continue pushing through my roadblocks or move home, when a visit from my dad and brother made me see the light. I wasn’t happy only seeing them once every few months and I still wasn’t confident in who I was trying to become as an entrepreneur, so I decided to move back to where my strongest support systems are to gain stronger footing and see myself and my business more clearly.
I would miss my urban farming family, my meal prep family, and the family of friends I’d built since I’d most recently moved to Vancouver in October of 2016. I loved the life I’d created, but I couldn’t sustain it. Feeling really lost, I started putting the pieces together to make my move back home a reality.
September 2018: Starting the transition
I closed out my meal prep clients and began the moving process. I knew I’d need some time once I was in Ontario to take a step back and regroup once again, so my efforts to connect with new clients went by the wayside. I figured it wasn’t fair to potential clients if I wasn’t sure which direction I was heading with my business or in which way I could confidently help them. With that mindset, I started accepting the change I was putting into place and saying goodbye to lovely Vancouver - my second home.
October-December 2018: The thick of it all
I picked up and moved back to Ontario in the middle of October. At this time JMC was basically just a newsletter. Until I knew where I was going next I was only going to attach myself to things that resonated with me and made me feel alive. It was the only way I knew how to continue on while staying connected to what I love. I slept a lot, spent more time with family and friends, read books, and started to prepare to get back into the workforce. This meant figuring out my path - one that felt right to me. I still felt stuck, though, and I didn’t want to force it, so by the end of mid-December I was in a darker place.
They say that starting your own business as an entrepreneur, especially one where you’re the selling feature, can bring about a lot of personal growth, introspection, and turmoil as you discover who you are and where you fit into the world. Well, they (whoever they are) are RIGHT! After months of trying to discover where I fit into this industry and to little avail, I started to feel really useless and disconnected from what made me ‘Me’ and it was HARD. I retreated and had a couple of depressive days where I could barely get out of bed or stop crying. The weight of the past two years hit me all at once like a ton of bricks. I had been through a big transition in my life. I shifted my lifestyle completely, my values were upgraded, I started a business, and I went through two self-inflicted breakups and two cross-country moves. I’d had enough.
January 2019: JMC Revisited
The good news was that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Toronto was in my future and that’s where I’ve spent the past month taking care of myself and learning to follow my heart. My life’s become about reading signs and listening to my body to help guide me where to go next. I’m focusing on me, wholeheartedly, in order to help direct me down a path that will allow me to serve people who both really need my help and that I wish to serve in a way that serves me using my best skills.
The thing is, I’m confident that I’m a smart person capable of helping others achieve their goals. I know that I have what it takes to do the things most others expect me to do, but I want to do the things that I believe I’m meant to do and that take time to discover. My personal conflict arises when I can’t comprehend that the decisions I make today aren’t my final ones. Accepting that as my hurdle, I can now see that the big picture dreams I have take time and that’s okay. The steps I take now will help get me there, but they don’t need to lead to the end right away. And besides, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, right? Right.
After all of this and especially after surrendering to the Universe, I know where I’m headed in my business at least for the foreseeable future, and that’s way better than having no direction at all. For so long I thought I was doing everything right, but my energy was invested in the wrong aspects of what makes a business thrive. What I was missing was a true connection to myself and to you and it took time to realize that.
What does that mean?
For now, let me say that I’m choosing my health in 2019. I’m also choosing to focus more on sustainability, community, movement, education, and intention.
Keep your eyes open for next week’s blog post all about the steps I’m taking in 2019 to better serve you.