Nutrition coach uses new business model for the win
Originally published by the Virginia Small Business Development Center
On a whim, Caroline Thomason called the Shenandoah Valley SBDC last year. Today, she’s operating a nutrition coaching practice in the five-figure range. “On paper, all the odds were against starting a business during the pandemic,” Caroline admits.
She decided to do it anyway. “Somehow I just knew the time was right,” she adds. “I’d always wanted my own business. My plan was to go full-fledged into private practice with nutrition coaching.”
Caroline called the Shenandoah SBDC, and Business Analyst Don Crawford returned her call the same day. “We’ve been talking every other week since then,” Caroline says.
Early on, Caroline learned not to follow her inclination to jump the gun. “From the start, Don hit home by emphasizing the importance of having an organized financial plan,” Caroline says. “He helped me lay the foundation for the systems I use in my business today.”
Starting a business during the pandemic, Caroline notes, did have one advantage: telehealth. “Virtual visits were very accepted at that time, which was amazing for me,” she marvels.
Caroline began by developing a plan she believes helped her business grow so quickly. “I started doing memberships — like monthly gym memberships,” Caroline explains. “That gave my clients a more personalized service, and it was more flexible for all of us.”
It was, in Caroline’s words, “a huge hit.”
“Don and I crafted the membership plan together,” Caroline relates. “The SBDC helped me understand the membership model and how it was used in other industries. With the SBDC’s help, I was able to grow my business from a low six-figure to a high seven-figure range in five months.”
“I really think the SBDC’s help with my membership plan allowed the business to take off so fast,” Caroline says. “I was able to leave my full-time job after five months.”
Caroline is happy to recommend the SBDC to others considering a business venture, and plans to continue her relationship with them for the foreseeable future. “I feel like Don Crawford at the SBDC is my best friend,” Caroline concludes. “The SBDC has been with me from the beginning; just knowing they are there is extremely comforting.”
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