From corporate advertising executive to a successful dietitian entrepreneur, we are excited to introduce the Healthie community to Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT. Mandy is a Healthie member and owner of Team with ME: Nutrition & Fitness Consulting LLC. She is the founder of Nutrition Nuptials and The BAR Method. Mandy is sharing her expertise and valuable lessons on building your brand.
Tell us about yourself and what influenced your decision to become a dietitian.
Mandy: I definitely took a different route than most of my colleagues! My career started in advertising for 10 years in New York City before going back to school to become a dietitian. I was getting very tired, run down, and I lost the passion for what I was doing.
It was around this time that I joined a kickboxing gym. I was very active and was invited to start teacher training. I was hesitant at first because it was so different from advertising, but I figured if I was getting a free membership and some extra cash on the side, how could I lose? After feeling stuck in the corporate world for so long, I finally felt excited about the world of health and wellness.
I started teaching at the gym, and learned more about nutrition through the nutrition challenges they ran. I always had an interest in nutrition, but I never thought about it as a career until I worked with an RD on a project for a pharmaceutical client at my ad agency.
When I actually starting doing more research about changing careers, I thought I was going to enter the fitness industry. But I quickly learned that there aren’t good hours, good benefits, or good pay! Then I looked into nutrition, and it seemed like there were a lot of opportunities and avenues I could take.
You left a successful career in advertising to go back to school to become a dietitian, how did you make this decision?
Mandy: Leaving advertising behind was very scary because it was all I knew how to do and part of me really felt like a failure leaving a career where I was so successful. However, I had no passion behind it anymore.
After talking myself out of it for nearly a year, I pulled the trigger and went back to school full-time at almost 30 years old. I completed a combined program (at Montlclair State University). If I were to give myself a pep talk now, I would say never be scared and never let yourself talk yourself out of something you really want to do!
From the start, I knew I didn’t want to take the clinical path. I thought all I wanted to do was private practice, but during my internship I learned about all of these other things I could be doing, like media work that my internship director encouraged me to explore because of my background in communications. Connecting with more established dietitians throughout my internship led to many opportunities upon graduation.
When I finally graduated, I did spend another 10 months doing long-term care part-time because I wanted more clinical experience while I got a private practice up and running.
How did you get your first client as a dietitian?
Mandy: My first couple of clients were out of pocket clients through word of mouth, but I decided to accept insurance pretty quickly as an avenue to gain new clients without much advertising. Insurance has been a huge asset for my business because I don’t spend a lot of time actively marketing my private practice.
Over the years, private practice has actually become a smaller component of my business. I now only see clients 1 day per week, and do much more corporate wellness work.
Taking insurance helped me in this capacity because companies who saw me listed on their insurance provider website reached out to come onsite and counsel their employees. This helped get my foot in the door for bigger opportunities.
Coming from such an intense corporate background, I feel it’s important for me to go back and help professionals in high stress jobs learn how to take better care of themselves. The fact I worked in a similar industry makes me relatable to so many employees and I feel they’re more open with me because I “get it.” And Healthie makes it great to have quick conversations and check-ins with busy professionals!
What did your career in advertising teach you as you started your nutrition business?
Mandy: I always took my background for granted, and I didn’t realize the deficit in a dietitian’s education. We’re not taught the aspects of building a brand and business skills in grad school.
A key aspect that I learned in my advertising career is the importance of building relationships with people. I’ve always loved networking, so I’ve been lucky it comes easily to me, but you really have to start networking with other businesses. Building good, solid relationships is what it’s all about! It’s not running into a physician’s office and throwing down some prescription pads. It’s sharing who you are, what you do, how you work, and the why these physicians should send people to you.
"Building good, solid relationships is what it’s all about!"
How is branding and advertising for a private practice different than the work you did in advertising at larger businesses?
Mandy: Well, to start, the budgets are very different, so that’s something!
I find that we (ad execs) spend months behind the scenes building brands before they ever get to market. A lot of RDs are SO excited to get everything out there, that they don’t take the time to think about their brand as a whole. I find some don’t know what they want to do and others just want to get clients, so they’ll work with everyone.
Over time, you’ll start to learn, and I help people hone in on a specialty, which helps in figuring out your brand. I especially love working with RDs because developing their brand is much more personal than it was creating a large corporate brand. There’s a different sense of enthusiasm and personalization that makes this work much more exciting and rewarding than working with some big pharma company.
Now that we’ve been hinting at it, tell us about The BAR Method and how it came to be.
Mandy: The BAR Method is a signature eCourse I designed to help dietitians learn skills in Branding, Advertising, and Relationship Building to build the business that attracts their ideal clientele.
It came to be because I had a lot of colleagues asking me questions because they knew I had a background in advertising and communications. Eventually, I figured I should create something more streamlined to help people.
There are some great resources out there, but I created The BAR Method to show dietitian entrepreneurs how to take more of a personal approach in developing their brand. I teach people that their brand is an extension of themselves and how they’re perceived.
A lot of the content I created came from my own awareness of seeing what colleagues were doing and what questions they were always asking in Facebook groups. I combined that along with my advertising professional experience to create a unique program.
I took a lot of these questions and put things together in a sequential order, starting from the inside out. The whole BAR Method starts from an internal search – why are you doing what you’re doing? Then we look out. Who are you doing this for? What can you offer? How do we let people know about it? How are you getting out into the world to let people know who you are? I cover a methodical approach to building a brand, but my overarching goal is to make a community, sharing ideas.
More technically speaking, the entire course is automated over 6 months, with a few different levels:
- Level 1 sets the foundation over the first 3 months. There are modules to review with assignments, and we meet weekly as a group and one-on-one once per month. I designed it like a college course because I wanted to provide my colleagues the education we didn’t receive in school. I also help my participants build a business plan, which I’ve found a lot of RDs don’t have, but it’s necessary!
- Level 2 is more the application phase. I’ve brought on expert speakers on a variety of topics. There are webinars for participants to review and we meet every other week to showcase how the lessons are being applied directly to each person’s business. It’s all about making these things tangible and applicable for your business. For those who want more time working directly with me, I also offer mentorship opportunities that range from weekly to three times a month.
- Level 3 is my mastermind group keeps the conversation going once your business is established. Once a month we get together to share successes and struggles. I bring on experts, who aren’t necessarily always RDs because it’s important to get out of the dietitian bubble to see what other people are doing.
The BAR Method isn’t only focused on private practice. Some are looking to do online-based programs, building blogs, brand influencer, or more communications-based, such as becoming the next YouTube star. It’s building your brand, whatever that means to you.
The biggest thing I offer is accountability and support. I’m notorious for signing up for online courses and never doing them. I took my own learnings and have made weekly meetings because it’s so important that if you are taking the time to do this, you get the results you want.
How do you think technology is changing the field of nutrition?
Mandy: Technology is changing so many areas of the field; it’s been really interesting to watch this grow over the years. When I was in advertising, Facebook was still for college kids and Twitter had just come out. Companies at the time didn’t know how to use social media. Now, it’s how small businesses function.
Technology lets us offer courses and market them, reaching more people, without even having to be behind your computer 24/7!
Even with online counseling…how great it is that we have all of these options, whereas before some people may not have even known these sorts of things existed!
But I will say, nothing will ever replace face-to-face communication with people. Get out there and meet people. Then use technology to enhance and cultivate that relationship.
In your experience, what is the biggest obstacle nutrition entrepreneurs in private practice face?
Mandy: A downside to all of this technology is that it’s easier to see what other people are doing. We get so excited and jump in with both feet, but we don’t take the time to step back, plan, and think about it. I find that we also like to compare ourselves to other people. After all, technology lets us compare nonstop.
Instead of focusing on “What am I doing wrong?,” focus on what you ARE doing. Is what you’re doing serving you, your community, and your clientele in the best possible way?
What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had told you before you started your business?
Mandy: Be okay with knowing that not everything will work out for you. It’s okay to fail. Failure is actually what is going to drive you forward.
"Be okay with knowing that not everything will work out for you."
Failure helps with innovation. When I started my private practice, I expected people to come knocking on my door, but no one came! Instead of getting discouraged, I sat down and asked “what can I do differently?”
I think it’s also important for people to know that it’s okay to explore different interests and find your passion. Don’t constantly feel like you have to stay where you are. It’s normal for your interests to grow over time! Your brand is an extension of you, and you have to be true to yourself, so if what you’re doing isn’t making you happy anymore, you can change your business to make you happy. After all, the whole point of being an entrepreneur is to create a business and life for yourself that makes you happy!
"Your brand is an extension of you, and you have to be true to yourself…"
What advice do you have for budding nutrition entrepreneurs?
Mandy: I can’t stress the importance of mentors and coaches enough. I’ve worked with many coaches over the years who have helped me professionally and personally when it comes to growing my skills and my business. Even though I come from an advertising and marketing background, I hire outside help to assist with projects because sometimes when you’re so close to something, it’s hard to be objective and do what’s best for your business goals versus what you personally want or like. Working with people both in and outside of the dietetics industry has been so essential in helping me grow as an entrepreneur.
Also, don’t be afraid to invest money in areas that you’re not an expert. As an entrepreneur, we tend to be very cautious of how we spend money, in that we try to do everything on own. I’ve learned that backtracking is a lot more expensive, and it’s okay to ask for help! You’ll likely see a better return on your investment if you hire someone to run your Facebook ads, instead of you throwing money to boost random Facebook posts, if you don’t know much about Facebook advertising.
Thank you Mandy for your generous advice and time! To learn more about Mandy’s BAR Method, visit her website.
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