After receiving the shocking news that her husband was diagnosed with cancer, Alina dedicated herself to understanding the disease and its sources. Already equipped with a medical degree as well as a MSc. in Biochemistry, she dove into her research and ultimately changed her family’s diet and lifestyle habits. She followed this newfound passion and became a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and now she counsels parents of picky eaters and children with constipation issues.
Her interview inspires us to hire out for those tasks that we aren’t expert in (such as building a website) in so that we can focus on what we do best and ultimately, grow our businesses more rapidly and efficiently.
What inspired you to become a holistic entrepreneur?
My family started to focus on eating wholesome foods when my husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. At that time, our son was four months old, we had just moved to a new city (Calgary, Alberta) and a new home, and we were trying to make new friends, basically start over.
With the knowledge from my medical degree from Romania and my MSc. in Biochemistry from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada), I spent many hours reading numerous books, articles, and webpages trying to understand why the cancer occurred and how to prevent it from reoccurring. We decided that changing our diet and some of our lifestyle habits were some of the things we could control to lower the chance that the cancer would return.
Fast forward a few years, our son has a little sister and we are still making changes in what we eat. In addition to making healthy choices, we are trying to accommodate our son’s dietary restrictions. He was diagnosed with sensitivities to gluten and dairy when he was three and a half years old.
Starting with healthy eating to prevent cancer and later on feeding my children (now 6 years old and 3 years old) a healthy diet (focusing on gluten- and dairy-free alternatives), I discovered that I had a passion for healthy nutrition and lifestyle and I became a C.H.N. Holistic Nutritionist.
Tell us about your business or practice.
I counsel parents whose children suffer from constipation and are going through picky eating stages. I also want to empower parents who want to offer their families healthier food choices. On my site, at www.orgali.ca, I share nutritious, yummy, and fast dairy-free and gluten-free recipes, as well as nutrition tips that help parents who have a child who is constipated and is going through a picky eating stage.
What is your current business model?
One-on-one counselling by phone and email plus group programs.
What has been one of your favorite moments as a business owner thus far?
Every time a parent tells me that I helped their child eat foods that they never ate before and poop without pain is a great moment for me.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in running your business or practice?
Many ideas and lack of time.
How have you overcome those challenges?
I schedule my day the day before. I ask my husband and my parents for help when I need it. I am lucky to have my parents live nearby.
I also try to be patient and tackle one important thing at a time.
How do you find new clients?
Word of mouth and giveaways on my site. I blog regularly and I offer many free nutritional tips to my readers. I also post on forums and on various sites.
What have you found to be most effective in securing new clients to sign up for your services?
Providing a useful service to the people that need it. I counsel parents whose children suffer from constipation and are going through a picky eating phase.
There are, unfortunately, many children who eat very few foods and can’t poop regularly. Their parents hear about me from other (happy) parents I have worked with.
What do you do to keep your existing clients engaged in the long term?
I follow up with them regularly. Also, most of my clients signed up to receive my newsletter and they receive weekly emails from me with the articles I write for my blog.
As your own boss, what is your best strategy for staying focused and productive during your workday?
I schedule the important things that need to be done and that help my business grow. I also make sure to spend time with my children. My husband and I schedule weekly dates (we actually write them down in the calendar) outside the house, just the two of us.
If you could start your business over again from the beginning, what would you do differently?
I started my business just over a year ago. There was and still is a lot of learning involved as I am the only entrepreneur in my family and my husband’s family. I would not make any changes. I think where I am right now in my journey is where I am supposed to be.
I still have a lot to learn, but I enjoy the process.
I had to figure out things about blogging, communicating with my readers, building programs, marketing, etc.
One thing that I am glad I did was to hire somebody to build my site as he did an awesome job. I don’t know anything about building and maintaining a great site.
If I would have done it on my own, I would have had to spend a lot of time learning, instead of focusing on building my business and doing the things that I am good at (such as creating useful programs for parents).
What were some of the first mistakes you made that you would tell a new holistic entrepreneur to avoid?
I don’t think I made many mistakes. At least not big ones that I can remember and point out. Everything I built so far I build slowly, after a lot of thinking and reading.
I continue to improve everything I created so far in my business (my site, my programs, the way I communicate with my readers and clients, etc.). Nothing I create is static.
What are the top three business tools or resources you couldn’t live without?
Books, the internet, paper and pen.
What has been your most effective method for growing your business?
Put myself out there every day, day after day. It helped a lot that I enjoyed and still enjoy the process. I love what I do!
If there is something you are forcing yourself to do because someone else does it and you think you should too, don’t! It won’t work for you and you will be miserable trying.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever for done for your business?
I don’t think I ever did a crazy thing. But I stay up late and wake up early in the morning regularly to work on my business and my site. These are the times when my children sleep and everything is quiet.
I enjoy my work and I could do it all day long, but I also make sure I spend time with my family.
One of the reasons I chose to build my own business was to be able to have my own schedule so that I can be there when my family needs me.
What is your favorite indulgence?
Eat chocolate and watch a movie in bed with my husband in the evening after the kids go to bed.
Most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?
Sea urchin in France. I lived in Marseille for 3 months when I was 11 years old and I got the chance to visit many beautiful places in France.
Most memorable place you’ve ever visited?
I was born in Romania and I currently live in Canada with my husband and two young children. I visited many countries (Germany, England, Scotland, France, Italy, USA, and Mexico) and cities. I really can’t pinpoint a memorable place as I love travelling and I loved seeing all those places.
Last book you read?
Setting limits with your strong willed child by Robert J Mackenzie.
Reading is one of the things I can’t live without. Besides books on health and nutrition (and biographies), I read as many books on parenting as possible to stay ahead in the parenting game. I have a smart 6 year old that keeps my husband and me on our toes.
If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, it would be…
Hmm, that is a hard question. I love food. I love eating it and making it for my family and friends. It is hard to choose only one. But since I have to choose one that I will get to eat for the rest of my life, I will choose Greek-style yogurt with mixed berries, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon as it is both yummy and nutritious.
What is your go-to breakfast?
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It would be cruel to decide on only one. Loaded delicious porridge (http://orgali.ca/2014/11/tasty-tuesday-delicious-porridge/), eggs (scrambled or fried), or loaded chia pudding (http://orgali.ca/2014/09/tasty-tuesday-loaded-chia-chocolate-breakfast-pudding/) are all part of my morning rotation.
What do you find most fascinating about the human body?
That it can heal itself if given the right nutrients it needs.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
I love that I get to set my own schedule, I plan my day however I want it, and above all, I spend time with my children and husband the rest of the time.
Alina, Muresan is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist based out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. You can find out more about Alina and her business, Orgali – Nourish and Love, by visiting www.orgali.ca.