I have always wanted to work for myself. After qualifying at King’s I spent five years working as a dietician both in the NHS and in private practice. I enjoyed my work, but I was tired of seeing the latest evidence-based research lost under the noise of fad diets being promoted to the public.
So in 2018, I set up Nude Nutrition as part of my mission to end nutrition nonsense and free people from the chronic side effects of dieting. I help those who want to get off the diet train for good, but who are stuck in the cycle of swinging between diet land (being ‘good’), and doughnut land (“falling off the wagon”). I help them break down food rules and restrictions, find trust in their natural hunger, fullness and satisfaction, and eat again from the ground up (i.e. how to start intuitive eating). This way, they can learn how to how to stop binge eating, how to stop emotional eating, how to stop food obsession and learn to enjoy eating healthy foods that satisfy them.
The decision to start my own business wasn’t made out of the blue. I had completed a short business course the year before I founded it, alongside my full-time work. The course covered things I had never needed in my previous work, like building a website, online marketing and financial forecasting. It gave me an understanding of the range of activities required to run a business and gaining these skills gave me a huge amount of confidence that I could do it.
You place a lot of pressure on yourself when you start a new business. Initially, it helped to see the process as a ‘project’, rather than a ‘business’. I was lucky in that my parents were willing to let me move home for a short while. This meant I could afford to quit my job and concentrate on my business without the need to replace my normal wage immediately. It also helped that I knew I had the option of going back into full or part-time work if I needed to.
At first, I wanted to work all the time because it was exciting and fun. But I also realised that I needed to continue a life outside of it to not burn out. I now rarely work on the weekends and I schedule other activities during the week to ensure I properly switch off. I also schedule breaks into my day so my client load does not get too heavy.
Working for yourself can be lonely too. I found it tricky not having anybody to bounce ideas off. If I didn’t send the emails, make connections, and get myself out there, nobody else would do it for me. So I started connecting with people online (via several brilliant Facebook groups) and at professional events and get-togethers for new start-ups and have found my own little network of people I can turn to for business and professional support. I recently also got a permanent desk in a co-working space which means I’m surrounded by likeminded people.
My business has grown a lot in its first year, but I’m still thinking of the future as a series of small steps. I have recently hired my first paid intern and plan to continue expanding the business. I’d love to take on more people, but one thing I don’t want to lose is that personal connection with my clients.
My advice for other people thinking of starting a new business is to be sensible and calculated. Connect with other people in a similar position and get the help you need. Even if your business is a one-person outfit, you don’t have to do everything alone. Then you just have to get to work. Don’t be paralysed by a huge leap into the unknown. Be proactive and take things step-by-step.
You can hear more about Katherine's journey as an online dietitian, the nuts and bolts of what it means to go freelance as a nutrition professional, and the practical consideration to make if you're thinking of starting a private practice, on this podcast.
If you would like to share your story, why not get in touch? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a short bio and a summary of the story you would like to tell.