Inspired by her own transformation into embracing a vegetarian lifestyle at a young age, Aimee now practices as a Holistic Health and Fat Loss Coach. She runs her practice exclusively virtually, which enables her to travel and spend time with her family. Her interview inspires us to get our systems established early on in our businesses to avoid future headaches and to engage in taking action regardless of whether or not we fully feel ready for it.
What inspired you to become a holistic entrepreneur?
When I was 13 I decided to become an ethical vegetarian. Some of my family members were convinced I would be malnourished and so I did a lot of research on vegetarian nutrition. While I intuitively knew it wouldn’t kill me, I had no idea to the degree our fork impacts our health and wellbeing. It was like taking the red pill in the Matrix. I’m still falling down the rabbit hole!
Tell us about your business or practice.
The main focus of my practice is weight loss – usually women who have other coexisting conditions such as hormonal imbalances or digestive issues. She will see that I have a fitness base as well and think that I have the magic diet/exercise combo to get the weight off, but we always end up going down her personal pathway in life that created the situation where weight became so stubborn to lose. So she ends up looking at everything beyond her plate so she can set herself up for success. While some step in with digestion or a specific athletic goal in mind, inevitably 90% want some extra weight to come off as well.
I also do some business coaching on the side for fitness and wellness practitioners who are just starting out. Those first two years are so overwhelming and having a mentor makes all the difference! As a bonus, I meet really amazing peers and know that my impact is even bigger by virtue of helping someone else succeed in having their own successful practice.
What is your current business model?
I run my practice exclusively virtually. I take calls over the phone and have email support between sessions. This has allowed me keep overhead low and made it easier to stay in practice after the birth of my son, and when we decided to travel Latin America for much of 2015.
I am currently one on one based right now. I’ve done online group programs in the past and would like to return to them when my son is a little older and I can guarantee reliable and speedy wifi. (not always easy to find in Latin America!)
What has been one of your favorite moments as a business owner thus far?
Honestly, every time I am near quitting (and there have been a couple of those) one or two particularly amazing women will call me in the span of a couple of weeks and reignite me. Something happens in that conversation and I realize beyond doubt that we were will do great things together and that I am destined to continue this work. These women are like angels calling me back home.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in running your business or practice?
There’s a rough patch I haven’t mastered where my practice is full and I need to bring on additional help. Finding that help, providing them with enough work, and continuing to support and expand a larger practice is my biggest challenge.
How have you overcome those challenges?
I haven’t! It’s the biggest for me, you see. I know ultimately it is because I do not yet have the faith in myself to be a strong leader in a multiperson practice. I have a bit of growth work in that area to do. Aside from the lack of confidence some of it is simply lack of knowledge; I haven’t found the right mentor at the right time for my own evolution in this area.
How do you find new clients?
Yelp is great, and word of mouth has been huge for me.
What have you found to be most effective in securing new clients to sign up for your services?
Having that initial conversation without fear. Fear prevents you from asking the hard questions and drilling deeper, and also from asking for what you are worth as a practitioner. When you step in with faith that the money you need will come from somewhere and that there are millions of people who need your services, you lose the fear of ‘No’. That’s when it gets really good!
What do you do to keep your existing clients engaged in the long term?
I let them know up front this is no quick fix. They may get some immediate relief but if they have some weight to lose it’s going to be a journey. So in that very first call I inform them that many of my weight loss clients stick around for 12-18 months, and I tell them why that is. This creates the expectation. At the end of the call I’ve only asked them to hang out with me for 90 days, but they know that if they like what they see that we will be together for the long haul.
As your own boss, what is your best strategy for staying focused and productive during your workday?
Being physically away from my son, in a quiet intentional space. Timers and scheduled interruptions can help me as well to both take breaks and refocus so I don’t get too distracted. While I have been known to rely on coffee, I’d prefer a good night’s sleep and an intense workout as essential tools for consistent focus throughout the day.
If you could start your business over again from the beginning, what would you do differently?
Taking some classes in small business ownership through the Department of Commerce or SCORE (in Seattle) would have been smart. Having a system to manage filing, bookkeeping and all those other bits when starting out saves days of headaches later on.
However, every pitfall, obstacle and failing has been such a valuable lesson to me.
What were some of the first mistakes you made that you would tell a new holistic entrepreneur to avoid?
Avoid acting because you don’t know what to do. Even if you fail the first few times you don’t ever actually fail so long as you learn from those actions, pick yourself up and keep going. Failure truly only happens when you opt out of the game before giving it a fighting chance.
What are the top three business tools or resources you couldn’t live without?
1) A business mentor during challenging stages of personal or professional life.
2) Facebook – it’s a double edged sword, but it keeps me current on important issues and people I want to be in touch with or reach out to.
3) A strong referral partnership and connection to other business owners. Joining a good network group was pivotal in growing my practice.
What has been your most effective method for growing your business?
BNI and Yelp reviews.
In building your business, was there any specific mistake you made, “oops!” moment, or “I can’t believe I did that!” time that you look back and laugh at now?
There was a period in my business right after my son was born where I felt very ungrounded and lacking focus to move in the direction I thought I wanted to go. In desperation, I jumped from guru to guru to help ‘whip me into shape’ and keep my business growing. Because I was acting from desperation and a place of disconnection from myself, I hired all the wrong people and ended up wasting a lot of money and having nothing to show for it.
Truthfully, I’m still not laughing about it, but when I spoke with a former mentor who really knew me and listened to me I was able to reconnect to myself, accept that I actually did not want to grow in that moment (I was still recovering from birthing!) and take action to downsize instead of expand and do so with compassion and caring. I learned that unless we are deeply connected to ourselves as well as our ultimate vision for our business we can make some easily avoided mistakes. No guru knows as well as you do!
What is your favorite indulgence?
Coffee delivered in bed. I’m trying to quit again, so it has an even more covetous allure right now!
Most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?
Termites, live off the mound in a Costa Rican rainforest.
Most memorable place you’ve ever visited?
Some of the forests in the Pacific Northwest hold a deep piece of my soul.
Last book you read?
‘Cascadia’s Curse’ which is essentially educational fiction about what will happen if the really big earthquake hits the area soon.
If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, it would be…
Sushi from an oceanside city!
What is your go-to breakfast?
Oat Bran with collagen, vanilla and stevia or farm fresh eggs with black beans and salsa.
What do you find most fascinating about the human body?
It’s infinite intelligence and ability to endure.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
I own my life and I don’t have to wait until retirement to fully live it!
Aimee Gallo is a Holistic Health & Fat Loss Coach as well as a Personal Trainer based out of Seattle, Washington. You can find out more about Aimee and her business, VIBRANCE Nutrition and Fitness, by visiting www.vibrancenutrition.com.