After unsuccessfully resolving her own health issues through conventional medicine, Crystal turned to alternative approaches, transforming her health and her life. Seeing the power of this method of healing and inspired to help others follow a similar path, she became a Naturopathic doctor, nutrition coach and personal trainer. Crystal’s interview inspires us to get clear on what we want and to follow it passionately.
What inspired you to become a holistic entrepreneur?
My own personal challenges with weight gain, nutrition, body- and self-esteem issues, and digestive complaints led me to seek out help initially from the conventional medical system. I discovered quickly that this system only offered symptom management in the form of pills and didn’t provide me with long-term, sustainable solutions for my health concerns. That’s when I began researching lifestyle and alternative medicine approaches and found answers in fitness, the power of food, and in Naturopathic medicine. By slowly incorporating changes to my lifestyle, such as exercising regularly, eating a more nourishing diet, and taking natural supplements, I transformed my body, health and relationship with myself and discovered the power in this type of medicine.
I wanted to share this with the world and knew that I could help people in this more holistic way. This is why I decided to become a personal trainer, nutrition coach and Naturopathic doctor, and it’s been through this holistic approach that I not only saw the profound changes that it had in my client’s lives, but it also brought me so much joy to be a part of their journey.
Seeing the transformation that occurs in my clients, both in their appearance, health and relationship with themselves, has been the greatest gift that I could ever receive, and I am thrilled that this is my job and what I get paid to do!
Tell us about your business.
My business focuses primarily on empowering, coaching and guiding women to create the body and health that they have always wanted. I help them achieve this by offering customized nutrition plans, a holistic, medically-supervised weight loss program, personal training and group fitness programs, and Naturopathic medical care. What I aim to do with every client is to meet them where they currently are, work collaboratively with them and their specific goals and needs, and develop a long-term healthy lifestyle plan to help them transform their body and health. No quick fixes, no crash diets, and no deprivation. If you can’t enjoy your nutrition, exercise and lifestyle plan, why do it at all?
What is your current business model?
Currently I offer 1:1 services in person and virtually, as well as group fitness programs. As I move forward in the business I will also be offering products, such as professional brand supplements, e-books and online programs, and I am also considering the membership structure for the future of my business.
What has been one of your favorite moments as a business owner thus far?
Launching my business here in Maastricht in September 2014. Having a limited budget, I decided to completely re-design my website and brand myself, and after months of hard work, a huge learning curve and tons of dedication, I finally revealed it to the world. It was scary and exciting at the same time, and it represented the beginning of a new chapter in my career. My next favorite moment has been making the decision to do Marie Forleo’s B-School. Investing in my business, and more importantly in myself, has propelled me to implement changes in my business and inspired me to really shoot for the stars.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in running your business or practice?
Probably the biggest challenge has been managing the many roles I have to play, as I am the sole person in my business. At the same time I have had to hold down a day job to help pay the bills during the infancy stage of my business, and managing my time between these different roles has been quite the juggling act!
How have you overcome those challenges?
Early on I established the hours and salary I needed with the day job to help pay the bills, and worked my business around those responsibilities. Having the flexibility of being my own boss and setting my own hours in my own business has been essential, as has owning an agenda and writing everything down. I try to take some time on Sundays to look at the week I have ahead, and plan my schedule accordingly to make sure all the most important items get completed.
How do you find new clients?
Like Marie, I have “hustled” my business by talking to everyone about what I do. In the past I have rehearsed the classic “elevator speech”, but I have found that just talking about what I am passionate about (nutrition, fitness and health) usually leads to a much more organic conversation about my business and how I can help them. Through the network of people I have met in my day job, as well as through social media, networking with local like-minded business, and word-of-mouth from existing clients, I am slowly building my client base.
What have you found to be most effective in securing new clients to sign up for your services?
Offering a 15-minute free Skype consultation has been absolutely key. People can read reviews and hear information from their friends, but when I sit down with people face-to-face and talk to them about their concerns and how I can work with them to help them, we both immediately know through gut-feel if the working relationship is going to work or not. It’s a chance for me to gain their trust, and a chance for me to decide if I am the right person to help them. I think this is critical, because a) I am aware that I can’t help everybody and my services may not meet everyone’s needs/desires, and b) if I begin work with someone not really feeling enthusiastic about working with them, it will show in the service I provide them. This could then lead to lack of results, and bad reviews, which costs me money and my reputation. Even though I would love to help everyone, and especially since I am early on in my business of course I want more income from clients, it is much more cost effective to say “No” to the wrong person, in order to be able to say “Yes” to the right ones.
What do you do to keep your existing clients engaged in the long term?
When I begin working with a client, I make it very clear that we will be working closely with one another in the initial stages, so follow-up visits on a bi-weekly basis usually. As they progress in the right direction, we spread those visits out to be less frequent. So this has helped with accountability and engagement. I also encourage all my clients to sign up for my monthly newsletter so I can send them relevant information about nutrition, fitness and health. Finally, I make every client an active part of their process by tracking their bi-weekly progress as it relates to their body composition changes, symptoms and overall health and we discuss these items in each and every visit. I believe it empowers them to be a proactive participant in their journey, as opposed to just doing what someone tells them to do. Client retention is something that I feel is my strength – now I just need to work on getting more clients!
As your own boss, what is your best strategy for staying focused and productive during your workday?
A few things: checking my email only twice a day – first thing in the morning, and before the end of the work day; keeping my phone on silent while I work; not surfing the internet (aka Facebook, Twitter). These are all huge distractions that kill time management and I try to stick to this daily. Finally, spending a bit of time organizing my week ahead and trying not to schedule too many things, only the most important and time-sensitive items. It’s so easy to fill our schedules with stuff to do, and it can be overwhelming and disappointing to make it so jam-packed that you can’t check those things off your to-do list. I have learned that less is often more.
If you could start your business over again from the beginning, what would you do differently?
When I first started out practicing Naturopathic medicine in 2012 I took on the first clinic opportunity that presented itself because I was fresh out of school and wanted to start seeing clients immediately. I didn’t really have a good idea of who I wanted to work with, i.e. my Ideal Customer, and so I took on anybody. I also hadn’t really established my own brand, which meant I was fitting the mold of the clinic I worked in, and eventually was just seeing clients that came in because of the clinic reputation. I also realized that although I admired the practitioner I worked with, I just didn’t jive with the business side of things in their clinic, which lead to a lot of frustrations. Soon I wasn’t happy working there, it showed in my attitude and lack of desire to go to work, and I noticed that my client-base just wasn’t growing. I wish that I had spent more time in the beginning being much more selective of the clinic I decided to work for, and to have had clarity on what type of customer I truly wished to work with.
What were some of the first mistakes you made that you would tell a new holistic entrepreneur to avoid?
Take your time getting very clear on what you want, who you want to work with/for, and create your brand from the beginning. Try not to be everything for everyone, because you don’t want to be a Jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
What are the top three business tools or resources you couldn’t live without?
1) A non-techy-friendly website platform like Weebly made things completely doable for me, given that I didn’t have the money to pay someone at the start to create my website for me.
2) Entrepreneur.com – I get a weekly digest of relevant topics that have helped me implement better strategies for my online presence.
3) B-School – Marie Forleo’s program has provided a wealth of information that has been probably the best investment in my business. It has helped me gain clarity on who my ideal customer is, what I really want out of my business, and has helped me implement changes to my business that has already resulted in increased revenue. I would recommend this program to anyone who is an entrepreneur looking to improve their business!
What has been your most effective method for growing your business?
I think that I have been able to over-deliver when it comes to the service that I provide my clients, which shows them I truly care about them, their goals and helping them in any way that I possibly can. These clients have become my word-of-mouth marketing for me, which has helped me to grow my business.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever for done for your business?
I can’t say that I have done anything really crazy for my business. I have taken risks, such as investing in B-School during a time where I simply didn’t have the money, with the hope that it would give me a solid return on investment. So far it’s proving its worth!
What is your favorite indulgence?
Dark chocolate by Green & Black’s or Seed & Been Co. They are companies with a cause, and their product is absolutely divine! A close second is Panda Licorice – soft, delicious, and the perfect blend of licorice and sweet flavours.
Most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?
A 7-course tasting menu with wine pairing at Susur’s in Toronto with my husband.
Most memorable place you’ve ever visited?
A hard choice…but I would have to say Cinque Terre, Italy.
Last book you read?
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, it would be…
Since I simply can’t narrow it down to 1 food, I will say all vegetables.
What is your go-to breakfast?
Any kind of protein-packed, nutrient-dense smoothie. Yumm!
What do you find most fascinating about the human body?
It’s adaptability and the power that food, exercise and mindfulness have to profoundly change you with every bite, step and thought taken.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
Being my own boss, the ability to take my vision and gifts and to create a business out of it, and the freedom that comes with this.
Crystal Ceh is a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor, Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach based out of Maastricht, Netherlands. You can find out more about her and her business, Core Essentials Health, at www.coreessentialshealth.com.