Starting a Private Practice: A Dietitian's Perspective with Evelyn Best, RD, Partnerships Manager at Cherry Health

About the Episode

In the world of healthcare, many professionals find themselves at a crossroads, wondering whether to branch out on their own or continue working as an employee. This decision can be particularly daunting for registered dietitians, who face unique challenges in building a thriving private practice. In this episode, we will explore the journey and insights of Evelyn Best, RD, partnerships manager here at Cherry Health, a seasoned registered dietitian and co-owner of Eatuitive Nutrition. We will delve into the considerations, strategies, and tools that Evelyn used to build her practice and provide valuable guidance for other healthcare professionals looking to embark on a similar path.

Objectives and Discussions
  • Starting your own practice requires careful consideration of whether you want to be in business and the legal and financial obligations that come with it.
  • Liability insurance is necessary for dietitians and other healthcare professionals to protect against potential claims.
  • Payment processing options include e-transfers, credit card payments through providers like Stripe or Square, or traditional methods like cash or checks.
  • Electronic health record systems and scheduling tools like Jane or Acuity can streamline operations and improve efficiency.
  • Choosing between a virtual or brick-and-mortar practice depends on personal preferences, client needs, and the nature of the services provided.
  • When partnering with another clinic or practitioner, consider the value adds they provide and negotiate a fair split of overhead costs.
  • Client acquisition strategies can include online marketing, professional networking, or search engine optimization to attract the right audience.
  • Niche down your target audience and develop a unique value proposition to differentiate yourself from competitors.
  • Building a website and seeking professional help for web development and design can enhance your online presence and attract clients.

More Resources:

LinkedIn: https://cherryhealth.co/linkedin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cherryhealthinc/

Instagram: @cherry.health

Twitter: @cherryhealthinc

Have questions? We want to hear them!

Speaker Identification:

[Host]: Dr. Jordan Vollrath

[Speaker]: Evelyn Best, RD

Jordan Vollrath (00:03.05)
Evelyn Best is joining us today. She's a newly minted partnerships manager here at Cherry Health. Evelyn has been a registered dietician since 2015 and is a seasoned private practice co-owner of Eatuitive Nutrition, a sports nutrition clinic that focuses on a data-driven approach to lifestyle intervention for optimal health via biometric testing in micro and macro nutrient analysis.

She's here today to share her journey and her insights in building a thriving private practice with multiple dieticians working at it. And we're gonna chat a little bit about branching out on your own, that scary world of, should I do my own thing? Should I go work as a contractor? Or should I stay an employee at my current job? So Evelyn, thank you for joining us today.

Evelyn Best, RD (00:30.018)
Thank you.

Evelyn Best, RD (00:34.531)
I'm out.

Evelyn Best, RD (00:48.394)
Thank you so much for having me.

Jordan Vollrath (00:51.39)
Um, okay, so first off, why is dietitian so hard to spell? It seems like there should be a C there, but it's a T.

Evelyn Best, RD (00:57.886)
I'm sorry.

Yeah, there's actually a very interesting history to that. I believe the term dietician was initially spelled with a C and it was, um, intended to be a physician specialist that, that specializes in nutrition and dietetics. But I suppose, um, things have changed and the field of dietetics with the tea was somehow sprouted. And that has just.

So I'm not entirely sure but it is an interesting one for sure

Jordan Vollrath (01:35.258)
Fascinating. I was not expecting a real answer to that question. Very cool. Why don't you start by telling us a bit about your background? What's the clinic like: Eatuitive? Tell us more there.

Evelyn Best, RD (01:39.343)
Thank you.

Evelyn Best, RD (01:48.486)
Yeah, so I got my degree from the University of Alberta and I went through the integrated dietetics program at the U of A. And so when I first graduated, of course, there was a hiring freeze. So that was sort of the initial thing that prompted me to look outside the box and

um create some opportunities, uh some means of making an income, um as there were not a lot of job postings that were available. And so um I began my career as I did a short stint as a long-term care clinical dietitian and then I accepted a position um with medical nutrition in the um

My first job was actually selling to dietician in account and territory sales management. And this wasn't necessarily the road that I thought I was going to go down, but it was something that provided like a lot of value in my growth as a professional learning the basics in terms of sales and business developing business acumen.

And it was a great opportunity that I spent at Nestle Health Science over the course of one year where I covered a maternity leave and I was given the opportunity to continue. But as a new grad, as a new professional, I had other aspirations and ideas that I really wanted to pursue. And so I decided, you know what, let me give this a go. And so I joined forces

with a primary care clinic and started contracting out some services as a registered dietitian. So that was my first road into private practice as a dietitian. And that was also the time in 2016 that was intuitive nutrition was boring. And so over the course of a number of years, that's when I...

Evelyn Best, RD (04:13.43)
built the practice, starting to niche down and figure out the target clientele that we wanted to serve. And then, you know, here we are in 2023 and it's still going strong.

Jordan Vollrath (04:32.33)
Awesome. So you were doing contracting then through another clinic before for a couple years it sounds like until you decided to fully branch out and run your own practice at that point. Is that right? What tipped you over the edge? What made you want to say, okay, I can do this better myself.

Evelyn Best, RD (04:38.446)

Evelyn Best, RD (04:42.762)
That's correct. Yeah.

Evelyn Best, RD (04:49.086)
Yeah, well, it's hard to say if there was a specific point in time. But ultimately, I would say it's more so just going for it. Since the, I guess, the road into entrepreneurship in 2016, more so in partnership with other clinics, individuals, companies. It's.

until about 2018. 2018 was when I really took the plunge and decided to do it more independently. And I think it was a good approach to private practice, given the fact that I wanted to gain more experience as well. I like people, you know, this is also why I am now the partnerships manager at Cherry is because I

really during this journey realized how much I just love technology and innovation and wanted to find an avenue, a channel where I could have more impact in that way. And so that was also part of the reason to partner with others. And there's a lot to learn from other organizations, other practitioners that are not dieticians, more of an interdisciplinary approach.

Um, so ultimately the big shift is, is just, you know, mentally deciding, all right, I am ready and I'm going to go for it. And it's, it's almost like a switch that, um, was flipped, uh, in my mind. And, and there it was.

Jordan Vollrath (06:32.954)
Take, taking the plunge. Yeah, so it sounds like being a, you know, more techie person, kind of an early adopter in that realm, probably kind of pushed you towards.

Evelyn Best, RD (06:34.695)

Jordan Vollrath (06:41.898)
doing your own thing, right? Then you're not stifled or held back by, whoever might be managing things. It isn't this tech inclined or ready to adopt those next things. So that's super cool. So we'll chat a little bit about that, making that branch out, doing your own thing then. Who would this information be applicable to then? Obviously dieticians, are there any other like facets of allied health or physicians even? Are we allowed to say allied health? Somebody told me that's like a pejorative term recently. Is this like a common thing?

Evelyn Best, RD (06:52.454)

Evelyn Best, RD (07:09.711)
Really? Yeah. Really? Yeah.

Jordan Vollrath (07:12.613)
in the healthcare world or is it just the word for other healthcare practitioners?

Evelyn Best, RD (07:13.806)
What? Huh.

Evelyn Best, RD (07:18.33)
Interesting. Well, I personally do like the term allied health and it is a term that I use. I guess maybe I didn't get the memo. So, oh, you know, I'll

Jordan Vollrath (07:31.902)
I just don't have a better word for it, so I continue using it.

Evelyn Best, RD (07:35.966)
I like it. I like it. So yeah, that's a great question. This will certainly be applicable for dietitians. And I would also say it's, it would be applicable for physicians. There are definitely areas that I would not consider are probably not applicable to the profession of dietetics.

I think there's a lot of transferable considerations that can be adapted to various professions. And this may also apply for other types of small businesses. I would say this would likely be more applicable for those that are doing consulting, a service-based business.

Evelyn Best, RD (08:29.254)
a physiotherapist, a massage therapist, that would be applicable to that. Psychology, any behavioral health interventionists, this would be applicable to you.

Jordan Vollrath (08:43.63)
a lot of these outpatient community practitioners, I guess, sort of across the board. Cool.

Evelyn Best, RD (08:48.906)
Definitely more so in the outpatient space for sure.

Jordan Vollrath (08:52.69)
Okay, so what are the considerations ahead of time? You're thinking about it, you're like, should I go do my own thing? What do you gotta consider? What are those first things you have to ask yourself to figure out, okay, should I seriously pursue this and start putting together that business plan?

Evelyn Best, RD (09:08.666)
Yeah, so I would say the number one question to ask yourself is, do you want to do business? Now it does not have to necessarily be a business.

very involved business in 2023. There are many people that have multiple interests and side ventures and hustles. So I'm biased because I do enjoy this lifestyle, but I think that is the number one question to ask yourself is, do I want to get into business? Because let's face it, even

Evelyn Best, RD (09:51.898)
only takes five hours a week, let's say. It is still considered self-employment activity in the eyes of the CRA or in any jurisdiction that you may be in. And so in order to be compliant with the law, you would, there are some processes that one has to follow. Now it does not mean that it's very involved in Alberta and I believe likely also in Canada.

one can operate as a sole proprietor, which means you don't need to be incorporating a company that you may or may not know of you will be continuing on with in the future and you can operate as a sole proprietor. But that does mean you need to have a way to track your income and associated expenses. There may be

a need to obtain a business license depending on the field that you're in. You may have to remit taxes in the form of GST and HST for certain health providers. I know this does apply for massage therapists. Some regulated health providers are, I don't know the exact term, is either zero rated or exempt. So these are the kinds of questions that

would be important to consider and likely consult a professional. Look for a certified accountant. And that's yet another piece as well is we tend to succeed by working with others. So there will be a need to also consult with other professionals to make your own venture a success. So that would be the number one question. Am I ready to do business?

Jordan Vollrath (11:42.586)
So a lot of like pain in the butt, behind the scenes things that you gotta deal with, right? Like all these housekeeping items, your taxes, your corp documents, your minute book, all this stuff that, you know, I really do, now that I'm on the other side of running a business, see a lot of the benefits of just being a salaried T4 employee and you just show up for your hours and then go home again afterwards. You don't have to think about anything else.

Evelyn Best, RD (11:47.506)

Evelyn Best, RD (12:02.163)

Evelyn Best, RD (12:08.926)
Yeah, definitely. And I have to say I am definitely enjoying this piece of being a cherry now. The taxes are slightly less confusing as they were before. So yeah.

Jordan Vollrath (12:23.006)
No doubt. Okay, so you're taking the plunge, you've thought about it, you're ready for the extra workload, you think the benefits of it are gonna outweigh the amount of extra work necessary. What do you gotta actually get in place now that you're gonna be setting up your own dietary or other type of healthcare provider?

outpatient business, you know, like in terms of seeing patients in terms of your day to day workflow, you know, now you're responsible for setting up all your own operations, getting all your software, your tech stack, your patient acquisition marketing funnel. Like where do you start?

Evelyn Best, RD (12:52.802)
Thank you.

Evelyn Best, RD (13:00.359)
Yeah, that's a lot. And you're definitely right that these are all important considerations. Yet we also need to stay focused in what it is that we're looking to achieve. So to get started, the first thing is to have your business registered. So if

one plans to operate under their own name. So let's say for myself, I want to simply operate as Evelyn Best. My understanding, and this is definitely something you want to check with your accountant and your local registry. No financial or legal advice here, but through my experience that you don't actually need to register a name per se.

Jordan Vollrath (13:39.215)
This does not represent legal advice.

Evelyn Best, RD (13:50.242)
However, let's say you want to operate as Cherry Health. Regardless of whether or not it is incorporated or not, this is now considered a trade name. Therefore, you do need to go into your local registry or other channels that's required to let them know, hey, I am going to be operating as Cherry Health. And...

But that's not too expensive. And maybe this is a little out of date because I did in 2016. But I think it was like 70 bucks or 85 bucks here in Alberta. And then that's it. Now the government knows, OK, Evelyn is working on this. And now you need to start tracking your income and expenses. So it can be as simple as you have a spreadsheet and you just.

Jordan Vollrath (14:26.746)
Not bad.

Evelyn Best, RD (14:43.242)
log your income and expenses. And it may not be a bad idea to open a separate account just for business activities. So it can be as low cost as $5 a month to open such an account. And when you're operating as a sole proprietor, the CRA or IRS or whomever your jurisdiction's

Evelyn Best, RD (15:12.322)
and the trade name as one, as one entity. And so you just need to mark that you may still have employment income. And so there is just one additional form. It's a T something form that you have to fill out at the time that you file your taxes. And of course, because you're receiving income from other sources, there's no taxes being deducted. So you need to keep that.

into consideration as well and just have, you know, the side money so when your tax bill comes There's no surprises and you're able to fulfill your tax obligations

Jordan Vollrath (15:54.23)
So in terms of getting those T's crossed and I's dotted, do you need to set up any kind of extra insurance while you're at it? Like, do dieticians have malpractice insurance like we do in the medical world as well? How does that actually work? Is there any, and if so, is there any difference there once you're now a contractor or doing it yourself versus when you're working for somebody?

Evelyn Best, RD (16:02.181)
Thank you.

Evelyn Best, RD (16:15.122)
Yeah, that's a great question. So for the dietetic profession, yes, we do have liability insurance. I believe the typical requirement is one to two million dollar liability, per incident, or something along those lines. And my understanding is with employers, they may or may not have their own insurance. So

regardless of whether or not you are going to branch off on your own, maybe for curiosity, that's something to investigate a little bit further. And I do know that certain employers require even of employees to purchase their own liability insurance, and sometimes they reimburse it, sometimes they do not. So that's a discussion to have.

Jordan Vollrath (17:00.858)
That makes sense.

Evelyn Best, RD (17:10.486)
profession. I'm aware of two ways of obtaining this liability insurance. One is through the dietitians of Canada. And the other way, I just know of a couple of, I suppose, insurance brokers. So hub, I believe it's called is a popular one as well. I've always just gone through dietitians of Canada and I cannot remember who they go through, but

Um, it's easy every year when I renew my membership. I just pay the extra few hundred dollars and I'm good to go. So

Jordan Vollrath (17:45.814)
Makes sense. Okay. And then where, how do you process payments? I guess, what is the next step then? Do you need to get a terminal like they have at a restaurant or how does that actually work?

Evelyn Best, RD (18:20.234)
You can. So when it comes to payment processing, if you're just getting started and you anticipate just a small number of clients or patients or whomever you'll be providing services to, you don't necessarily have to. You do have the option of receiving e-transfers, for example, in Canada is quite common.

As a way of receiving payments and again just um making sure that you're tracking that the good news too though is if you want to accept credit card payments it is not difficult to set up uh there are industry leading providers such as stripe square and then I suppose through your financial institution um you can get those as well

As you get started, probably the best bet is to go with some of those e-commerce providers like Stripe or Square. There is a processing fee that's involved, so that's something to keep in mind. It's usually approximately 3% gross, so if you're charging $100, you're probably only getting about $97. And, you know, that can add up, but if you're in a service-based industry,

Jordan Vollrath (19:38.478)

Evelyn Best, RD (19:44.69)
I it's really just the cost of doing business and we are margins, I suppose, you know, some very competitive industries, their margins might only be like five to 10%. Right. So if you're in such an industry, then you might want to rethink the way that you accept payments and to like, how are you going to price things are going to work that into the cost itself

as they're an added cost for your consumer. So those are some things to think about. But as you get started, keep it simple. It could be e-transfer. It could be hard cash. It could be a check. But definitely, credit card is something that a lot of people do expect. But there is just that fee involved. But it shouldn't take you more than, say, a half hour to set that up if you were to go with one of those.

providers, e-commerce providers that I mentioned.

Jordan Vollrath (20:46.942)
Okay, so you've got your accounting plan, you've got your payments figured out. What do you use for your patient charting software for your health records? What do you actually do there? What do most dieticians or other providers use?

Evelyn Best, RD (20:50.894)
Thank you.

Evelyn Best, RD (20:54.603)

Evelyn Best, RD (20:58.422)
Yeah, so that is definitely the next piece to consider. So most regulatory bodies have the requirement that you need to keep your records for, say, five years, 10 years. So as you get started, again, if you're not necessarily anticipating a large volume, you can use pen and paper, you can have a Dropbox account, a Google Drive.

You can have a good old-fashioned hard disk that perhaps you back up just for the fail safe. But it is definitely a good idea to be investing in some form of electronic health records system. So in, but I would say even prior to the electronic health records system, something to consider is scheduling.

Um, as you get started, it's probably not a big deal to be exchanging emails with your prospect to find a time that works. However, in this day and age, we, you know, we, we want things fast. We want to self serve. And so looking into a scheduling tool, um, I have no affiliation with these providers, but like Calendly, for example, acuity scheduling. Um, and there's.

a lot out there that's available is a good idea. And a lot of these scheduling tools do integrate quite well with the payment tools and also EMR or EHR systems that you may be using. So I think that's the first thing is figure out a way to get paid and to figure out a way to get your patients and your clients on to your calendar and making it easy.

to make changes.

Jordan Vollrath (22:49.534)
Makes sense. Yeah. So my wife for her cosmetics practice, she's using the Jane EMR. I don't know if you've actually seen that one before, but that one actually is pretty slick for, you know, there's no lab reports or diagnostic imaging. It doesn't really connect with any other systems. It's just sort of your in-house, but it's got that scheduling built into it. I think it processes payments too. It works for your charting and note-taking. That I actually found pretty slick. I don't know if you've seen that before.

Evelyn Best, RD (23:08.846)
Thank you. Yeah.

Evelyn Best, RD (23:14.302)
Yeah, yeah, Jane is definitely a common one that many people use it. It does look pretty slick. I do like it. It does connect with Stripe. I've used Acuity scheduling in the past. This does integrate with Squarespace. So Squarespace is a web website builder that's quite commonly used. It's.

quite user friendly. So that's also another consideration that we'll talk a little bit more about is how do you market your services? How do you go through that process of client acquisition? So yeah, Jane is a good one. Acuity is the one that I've used a lot and I quite like it. It can be quite sophisticated down the road of

how like you have different service types, some are in person, some are virtual. Perhaps you only want to do in person on Monday and Tuesdays, and then Wednesday to Friday is all virtual. You can set those things, you can set limits. There's SMS reminders at a certain tier of payments and rescheduling stuff, like basic intake forms even are available within Acuity and Jane, to my knowledge.

But these are more so your scheduling tools that can help you to get started. But as your practice becomes more mature and there's need for other features, then yes, looking into an EHR EMR is a very good idea and becomes more of a centralized place to keep your records and possibly also provide some value to your clients as well.

Jordan Vollrath (25:04.526)
Well, and so maybe the next thing that would make sense to dig into would be the, where are you working? You know, what kind of space are you setting up? Maybe you're going all virtual because that'll probably dictate what your digital presence is, you know, whether you have a website, whether what your marketing funnel looks like for finding those customers gonna be widely different if you're virtual versus in one spot versus another. So how do you decide on where you actually wanna set up shop? What goes into that assessment?

Evelyn Best, RD (25:05.419)

Evelyn Best, RD (25:20.238)

Evelyn Best, RD (25:30.914)
Yeah, that's a great question. I think this question, there's two ways of thinking about it. There's your personal circumstance and what works better for you as an individual and as a professional and your other obligations in life. So that's one consideration. And the other consideration is from a client's perspective. What is it that they are looking for?

Now, of course, there are many different customer, client, patient segments that a business can go after, but that's also a consideration. And so in 2023, virtual health services are much more widely accepted than in, let's say, 1983, right? So that's the good news. If you want to set up a virtual practice, the pro to that...

Would be there's reduced overhead. There's the flexibility of space um, but there's the there's the downside of well if um the way that Uh, you were personally choosing to operate this practice is from home There may also be that additional blurred lines between Your home life and your professional life and everyone's tolerance for that is different. So you have to decide that for yourself

Jordan Vollrath (26:56.494)
What was Eatuitive? Is that virtual or is it a brick and mortar facility?

Evelyn Best, RD (27:01.406)
It's a hybrid practice. When it started, it was, and still to this date, it has more of an in-person presence. And part of the reason is our unique value proposition being based on data as well as biometric testing.

And so because biometric testing is involved, this is not something that can be done virtually, and therefore a space was required. So but then once the testing is done and we have the required data, there's not always a need for an in-person consult to be done. And people also appreciate the flexibility.

So we do Zoom, we do Google, we do phone consults. So it's a bit of a hybrid practice just depending on the circumstance.

Jordan Vollrath (27:59.63)
Okay, so let's say somebody decides they're gonna go for the brick and mortar. They wanna have an actual space where they could see their clients or patients. How do you make the choice there? Do you set up shop somewhere, turnkey, where you're paying overhead and they've already got a lot of things set up? Do you rent your own space where your name's on the lease and now you're starting from scratch? What kind of considerations are there there?

Evelyn Best, RD (28:05.416)

Evelyn Best, RD (28:24.659)
Yeah, so all of the above are options. I believe nowadays, oftentimes we might just want to dabble in it and see if this is something we want to invest more time and energy on. And so in these instances to trial it, let's say, maybe a good idea to one partner with another individual, another practitioner.

as in a parallel or a same field as you with a clinic with another business and negotiate either a flat rate or possibly a percentage split if there is a greater overlap in the services that are being provided. And the decision to go either a flat rate or a percentage split depends on a number of things.

I personally am more for the flat rate because it's just cleaner. You get a bill every month, you pay it. There tends to be more autonomy and freedom, and you still have the ability, if you so choose, to collaborate with your landlord, so to speak, on other initiatives, if you'd like. If you choose to go the percentage split route, sometimes that can come with some unexpected

administration, like how do we know if we got paid the $200 consulting fee? You know, what about the credit card consulting fee? Do I now have to send an invoice that varies in amounts every month? And so this is then a discussion between yourself and whomever you're deciding to go down that pathway.

Jordan Vollrath (30:13.522)
What would be like a typical split for that overhead cost in the dietitian world or the psychologist world? You know, in the physician world, we usually do the, I don't know, 70-30, I'd say is pretty standard for overhead, right? And so it makes sense versus the flat rate.

Evelyn Best, RD (30:13.934)
Thank you.

Evelyn Best, RD (30:22.619)
This is green. Thank you. Mm-hmm.

Evelyn Best, RD (30:29.198)

Jordan Vollrath (30:31.342)
Right? Because every extra patient you see, you know, that's another tongue depressor. There's more office supplies. It's taken the nurses time to check them in and the MOA versus like what are the supports even, I guess, for a dietician working in a practice like that? Is it as closely linked to the patient volume or is it more? That's why the flat rate makes sense because it doesn't really cost the clinic or the facility more to see more patients.

Evelyn Best, RD (30:37.792)

And we'll see you later.

Evelyn Best, RD (30:51.822)

Evelyn Best, RD (30:56.35)
It really can be both and I've seen both ways being done very well and both ways being done not as well. And so starting with the percentage split discussion, of course, there is a cost to operations for whomever is providing you with the space to conduct business. And therefore, they should be compensated for giving you that resource.

And so I would say for just the use of the space, 20% to them, so 80-20 would be reasonable if the only support provided is the space itself. However, if you are considering to partner with another clinic, let's just use a clinic as an example here, they may have additional value adds. Perhaps this is a rather mature clinic.

already has the Jain, the acuity, the EMR that suits your needs already in place. So that would be truly a turnkey situation. Then I would say that you may want to consider providing a higher split to the clinic because they are providing additional support.

So with that, I would say that 70-30 or so is reasonable if there are some level of support provided. And even 60-40, like 60-40 is definitely a higher split to the clinic, but if they provide exceptional support, if they have the numbers and the track record to show that they are successful, maybe they have some form of

Um, guarantee your promise that they can show you that look, if you come to us, um, the likelihood of you getting this amount of client load is, um, is quite likely to happen. Then you may decide that suits you in that, um, situation. The most important thing when you're considering the value ads that, um, a certain clinic may provide you is.

Evelyn Best, RD (33:10.746)
whether or not it suits your needs as a professional for the field that you're in and whether or not that suits the needs and wants of your customer base and your client base, your patient base, because there may very well be a lot of overlap or there may not. And so sometimes what we perceive or expect to happen doesn't always happen that way. And so it's good to just

spend a little bit of time considering what that alternative might look like, and, you know, find a mutually beneficial agreement between the two parties.

Jordan Vollrath (33:49.774)
And then on the patient acquisition side, how did you choose to do it with Eatuitive? Where do patients come from? It was very foreign to me as a family doctor, there's infinite patients. There's never going to be shortage of patients. You don't have to put any effort into finding patients. They just show up. Even if you're not looking for patients, they appear. If you're in that private practice model, where do the patients come from? How did you set up your marketing funnel?

Evelyn Best, RD (33:57.939)

Evelyn Best, RD (34:04.048)

Evelyn Best, RD (34:08.691)
Thank you.

Evelyn Best, RD (34:15.69)
Yeah, so in terms of client acquisition, this is definitely the biggest challenge for a lot of allied health professionals. And when I say allied health professionals, I guess I'm also somewhat referring to those professionals where it may be much more likely to be private pay. So not covered by your provincial health authority.

And so it becomes a lot more business space in that realm. It's not like working at a clinic in an outpatient setting where, like you said, patients just show and we just do the work that we've been trained to do in school. So in terms of client acquisition, it is the biggest challenge. You have to think about how you're going to get them.

Some people like to do online marketing. So whether that's Facebook, Instagram, some people are more focused on a referral network through professional networking events. I would say the professional networking event kind of method to acquiring clients is more common in the past, whereas now in the digital age, it's a lot more DIY versus in the past.

Now, I have seen some practitioners that have been vastly successful utilizing more so of a referral network, but it tends to require a fairly involved relationship with other businesses. So it's a long sales cycle, I would say, if you were to go down that path, but that may also be rewarding.

So the way that for Eatuitive for the sports nutrition practice, that we were able to acquire clients, I went more of the DIY route. I've certainly done the Facebook, the networking, but not a focused effort on those. Because, you know, it's very easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of Facebook and Instagram. So I

Evelyn Best, RD (36:35.762)
I wouldn't even say I really tried it because it's more so I have an account and I might post something once in a blue moon. The way that we went about it was more so through search engine optimization. I was focusing on the low hanging fruit, focusing on those clientele that are already ready to buy, they are ready to see a dietitian within the next month, let's say.

and figuring out how to build a website, how to have the language within the website that aligns with your client base, the problems that they're trying to solve. So that's the route that I went down. And then, you know, now you've got all your website and all the nice things all set up from a business like, you know, your registration, all those things sorted. How do you in front of people? And then...

I went down the rabbit hole of search engine optimization, how you get closer to that front page of Google and then went from there.

Jordan Vollrath (37:42.894)
Who built your website? Was it you yourself, or did you wind up having to find a contractor outsourcing it?

Evelyn Best, RD (37:49.522)
Oh, man, a little bit of both. At first, it was definitely done by myself. We have hired a number of individuals or marketing companies over the years to help us with that, because let's face it, I'm not an expert in web development or design by any means.

But to the state is still more so DIY, but I would suggest getting some help there, because otherwise you're also down a rabbit hole. Doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to have the key pieces of information and connect with your target audience. And so really figuring out who this target audience is would be my next advice is to think about who you want to serve, to niche down.

to a level and it doesn't have to be a very, very specific, super specific niche. But oftentimes when we try to speak to everyone, then the message can get a little bit diluted and that may affect your conversion rate. So something to think about, you know, in tech and startup, we call it the ideal client profile, the ICP. So think about.

who they are and what it is that they're looking to solve and how does your solution and how does the existing interventions out there the competitive landscape look and what's your unique value proposition is there a gap and how do you bridge that gap how do you get them to say yes that is the biggest piece so that's the business aspect that really does come in.

Jordan Vollrath (39:33.706)
How long after you got going with Eatuitive You know, you started it up, you incorporated, found your clinic, started marketing, all that. How long after when you got going, were you like, okay, this was a good idea? Things are now stable and I'm less worried. You know, the existential threat of things falling apart is starting to fade out. Was it a month, a year, a couple of years? When did you actually start feeling comfortable in it?

Evelyn Best, RD (39:48.827)

Evelyn Best, RD (39:55.694)
Thank you.

Evelyn Best, RD (39:59.594)
Yeah, I'd say a couple years. It officially started in 2016. At the time, it was very much a side hustle. It was more so I came up with a name and I'm like, I want to keep that name and I went and registered it. But for the first six months, there wasn't a lot happening within the business itself, but it was officially registered. And then

Once we really got going, I would say about two years looking at the books of income and expenses, certain investments that may not have panned out in the way that you had hoped. And that's another thing too. You will have misses and that's okay. That is just the part. That's just the journey. I view it as tuition, you know, how many like multi-five figures that we spent on our degrees, right? So...

What's a few hundred dollars? What's even a few thousand dollars? If it helps to speed up your process. So do not be discouraged if there are certain investments or courses or time that you spend in certain initiatives that don't work out. It's going to happen. And that does develop our grits and our character. But I'd say about two years. And that was that timing of twenty eighteen where I felt, huh, you know what? This is looking pretty good. Like maybe.

I don't need to be contracting out my services with other individuals or clinics. And I still continue to even, until very recently, to have some consulting work on the side. There's some partners that have served me very, very well. But just to kind of just streamline it a little bit instead of, at one point, I probably have five or six jobs, right? Just to make various sources.

maybe I will focus on these two that align with my mission and vision as opposed to being in different directions.

Jordan Vollrath (42:01.042)
And then what was your worst day ever as an entrepreneur? Was there a time when the whole thing almost blew up or you're just not having fun with it?

Evelyn Best, RD (42:11.722)
Yeah, I guess I don't know if this is a specific day, but I think a lot of people can probably relate to that. And March 2020, when all of a sudden, you know, things are being shut down and, you know, we're supposed to stay home. We have no idea of the entire world is going to just be flipped on its head and what's going to happen. So that was definitely a shock given that.

the practice that we have is more of a hybrid practice that does have that in-person component. Now, the good news is there is that virtual component as well. And so just quickly pivoted and focused more on the virtual aspects, kept a waiting list for the in-person pieces, and went from there. So

Definitely took a little bit of a hit as most people did, but it was something that we definitely recovered from.

Jordan Vollrath (43:14.262)
That's good. That's good. Okay. Awesome. Well, is there any other final advice you'd have for the budding healthcare entrepreneurs out there?

Evelyn Best, RD (43:22.826)
Go for it. This is what you want to do. Um, uh, oftentimes, um, entrepreneurs, small business owners, uh, whether from a very small scale to very large scale, when you ask them for advice, they just say, Hey, just get started. Their regret is not having gotten started earlier. And, uh, it, it's sometimes it can feel, um, challenging and it's not as structured and

Jordan Vollrath (43:26.319)

Evelyn Best, RD (43:49.938)
doesn't necessarily have that blueprints and roadmap as other paths, but it can also be very rewarding and what's the worst that could happen? And go for it.

Jordan Vollrath (44:00.162)
Right on. So if anybody's looking to get in touch with Eatuitive, where can they find you?

Evelyn Best, RD (44:06.094)
If you Google dietician Calgary, you'll be able to hopefully find us fairly tough, hopefully. But you are able to email us at hello at eatuitivenutrition.com. And it's E-A-T-U-I-T-I-V-E nutrition.com.

Jordan Vollrath (44:09.935)
Number one on the SEO.

Jordan Vollrath (44:23.434)
Well, thank you, Evelyn, for joining us today. It was really insightful. Appreciate you taking the time.

Evelyn Best, RD (44:27.693)
No problem, thank you for having me.

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