This month, I am honoured to feature Sara Bradford of Nourish Real Food. She’s an expert nutritionist with a particular flair for lunchbox food for kids.
Tell us a little bit about you and your business, Sara.
My name is Sara. I live in Stratford, Ontario, Canada and I am a mom of four (ages 8 – 20) and a dog and cat, wife, and a nutritionist, food photographer, blogger, recipe developer, lunchbox warrior, real food ninja, supermom cape burner, nutritionist business coach. And recently an obsessive essential oils user.
What inspired you to start your business?
I always knew I’d be an entrepreneur. Both of my parents had their own businesses my whole life, and my husband does also. It’s in my blood. I am a pain-in-the-butt employee and a huge visionary, so it only made sense. It isn’t easy but I wouldn’t trade it in — that’s for sure.
The other reason I love it? I am a mom. And as a mom, my kids are pretty darn important. And having the freedom to volunteer at their school, pick them up and drop them off every day at school, take them to lessons, stay with them when they are sick, holiday when they holiday — this is also pretty important to me. Especially while they’re still young.
How would you describe your journey and how has having your own business changed things for you?
I’ve always been interested in food and natural health — even as a child. I began to study nutrition after the frustration of nursing my mom through cancer (a number of times) and being appalled at the food advice being given by dieticians. It drove me bananas. She was also a foodie and her philosophies just made sense and I wanted to learn more so I could help her AND my own family.
I began my life as a registered holistic nutritionist, doing just about everything I was interested in, and some things I wasn’t: Personal chef, meal delivery, food coaching and consulting, family food programs, weight loss group programs, baby food workshops — haha loads of stuff.
But the think what I enjoyed MOST was challenging myself to create beautiful food photography, develop kick-ass recipes and write.
I was also running a successful program — three seasonal community cleanses a year, and was looking for a way to expand that somehow. And I slowly discovered I disliked exclusively food coaching. It wasn’t for me.
I knew I needed to make a major shift — especially living in a very small, isolated city. That’s when I made the decision to take my current business and go 100% online — and this decision was a very good one. Overwhelming at times, but I am happy.
I am an extravert. I am super social and love connecting with people. Often working online and alone from home can be very lonely. But on the contrary it’s connected me to the world — and I feel like I’m back travelling again. I’ve also had MORE opportunity to travel, now that I have friends all over the world.
So now I make my own hours, spend more time with my kids, have time to actually make dinner, connect with the world via online, work from wherever I want or need to, and I’m doing what I love: developing online nutrition programs, blogging, recipe developing and now coaching other nutritionist in their businesses.
What has been your biggest success so far?
In my business, my greatest success has been the online Community Dump programs I run. I know they work because everyone comes back. I OVER-deliver on these programs, which actually makes me happy. I’ve begun to expand and offer a six-week extension to this 10-day program and people are LOVING it.
Would you share with us the biggest lesson you learned?
Find you niche. Become the expert. And stop being scared of the competition. I think this is a problem in any industry. You graduate and think you need to do everything and want to connect with anybody and everybody. But people want an expert. Not a jack-of-all-trades. So figure out WHO you want to work with (so you don’t resent your client), what are you want to be an expert in (and really become that expert and advertise THAT), and see your competitors and fellow-workmates as allies — not a threat. Believe me, you are stronger as a team — regardless of whether you are both going for the client. People are going to hire you because they want to work with YOU — no one can take that away.
What keeps you motivated and engaged with your business?
My mastermind groups. I am in two, currently. Which is almost too many, to be honest. But they are absolutely necessary for me. Otherwise, I’m just alone here in little ol’ Stratford. It’s a great way to stay connected to others, receive an honest opinion from sisters your trust, and develop a way of helping give back, as well. If you’re not ready for a mastermind group, you can still find your tribe online or wherever you live. But I advise you to find a tribe — especially if you’re running an online business.
What one piece of advice would you give other small business owners and start-ups?
Invest in business coaching!! And like I said above…find your tribe. Even if you think you know everything — there is someone out there who knows something you don’t. And getting support is imperative.
Also, try and try again before investing BIG. I’ve seen it a number of times. Business owners take the leap before doing the research, and invest thousands of dollars in the wrong place. It’s important to outsource, but before you do, either research or try some things on your own first — to see if they’re worth the time and effort (and money). I’ve made this mistake myself, and have learned my lesson.
What’s next for you and your business?
I have a few things up my sleeve. Though I’m slowing down on the “lunchbox” part of my business, there is a full year of delicious lunchbox meal plans coming soon. AND…I’m beginning to amp up my business coaching for OTHER food coaches and nutritionists. It’s going well so far but THIS is where my true calling is. And it’s only just starting. (So exciting!)
Sara Bradford can be found blogging on her site www.nourishrealfood.com, where you can sign up for a FREE e-book of family recipes. Her upcoming Winter Community Dump launches soon — go here for more info: Winter Dump Register for her FREE Kicking Sugar Webinar on January 15th here: http://nourishrealfood.