134: An Insurance-Based Digestive Health Practice with Sophie Dolan, RDN, MS, LDN

Dietitian Success Center Podcast Cover Photo 22
In this episode of The Dietitian Success Podcast, I’m joined by Registered Dietitian, Sophie Dolan. Through her practice, Sophie Dolan Nutrition, she works with children, adolescents and adults with GI issues – including Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS, Celiac Disease, food...

In this episode of The Dietitian Success Podcast, I’m joined by Registered Dietitian, Sophie Dolan. Through her practice, Sophie Dolan Nutrition, she works with children, adolescents and adults with GI issues – including Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS, Celiac Disease, food allergies, intolerances and other digestive concerns. She also has a second niche working with individuals with weight concerns. 

Sophie works with clients 1:1 both virtually and in-person. As a US-based dietitian, she is currently credentialed with Blue Cross Blue Shield, and most of her clientele are insurance based.  

Today, Sophie and I talk about her journey in building her practice, what made her decide to launch a practice after being an RD for 10 years in pediatric GI, what it looks like to accept insurance, and how she plans to grow and scale in the future.


Episode Transcript:

Today I’m joined by registered dietitian, Sophie Dolin, through her practice, Sophie Dolan, nutrition. She works with children, adolescents, and adults with GI issues, including Crohn’s ulcerative colitis, IBS, celiac disease, food allergies, and tolerances, and other digestive concerns. She also has a second niche working with individuals with weight concerns.

Sophie works with clients. One-on-one both virtually and in person. As a US-based dietitian, she is currently credentialed with blue cross blue shield, and most of her clientele are insurance-based. So today Sophia and I talk about her journey in building her practice. What made her decide to launch a practice after being an RD for 10 years in pediatric GI?

What it looks like to accept insurance and how she plans to grow and scale in the future.

 Sophie, welcome to the podcast. Feel free to say hey to the audience. Thank you for having me, Krista. Hi everyone. I’m excited to be here and to chat today.

I’m so excited to talk to you and to talk a little bit about your practice and just your journey in developing your practice. Starting off, I wanna hear a bit more about just your dietitian story. So how did you get to where you are today? Awesome. That’s a great question. I’ve had a couple, couple different things that have brought me here.

So I think like a lot of people, I always wanted to help others and I wanted to be in the medical, kind of medical field. I really thought maybe I wanted to be a pediatrician. But then once I started learning more about nutrition and actually a fun fact that my mom’s a dietitian. Yeah. Yeah. Which is super cool.

Basically fast forward, ended up becoming a dietitian and have just really loved it. And I actually thought that maybe I would ad advance my career and be a PA or a nurse practitioner, but I’ve really loved getting to practice. Obviously working with food and diet therapy with certain disease states and that’s really filled my cup, if you will.

So it’s been it’s been a really great journey. And and how I got here, so I am from Birmingham, Alabama. I did my internship and worked at Children’s of Alabama here in Birmingham. And then I ended up moving to Boston for six years w with a great opportunity at Boston Children’s Hospital and worked mostly in their GI department with inflammatory bowel disease.

But I also saw a lot of general gi and then I actually got to work in the adolescent bariatric clinic and some more weight management programs. And then really honestly, covid is what, what has. Gotten me to start my private practice. I think I always wanted to start a private practice, or I thought I did, but I really didn’t know what that meant.

Of course. And so it’s funny now looking back, like I really had no idea what I was thinking and I’m, it’s been a huge learning curve, but in a really, in the best way possible. But with Covid, we were in Boston and we, were just thinking that wasn’t gonna be a lot, a great long-term solution. And we decided to move and I started my private practice jumped in with both feet, and so now I’ve been, so I’ve been doing that full-time since I guess the last September. And so here we are, we started Sophie Dolan Nutrition, and we are, just trucking right along that is so great. And so I, I. I can’t remember if you mentioned this, but are you doing your private practice full-time right now or do you also have a nine to five.

Oh you are, okay. Amazing. Yeah, so I, like I said, that wasn’t necessarily the original plan. Like I wanted to, I thought I was gonna stay on with Boston Children’s for a little bit and then I was looking for some other options, but nothing really came up, so I really just dug in with both feet.

But now it made it pr I’m pretty much working full-time. So Good for you. Yeah. That’s incredible. Since September. That’s amazing. September of last year. September, of last year. But still only a little over a year. Yeah. A little over a year. A little over a year. That’s incredible.

Yeah, I know, right? That’s incredible. Okay, if you’re, if we’re thinking back to when you first launched your practice, what were some of those beginning stages for you? What were, so some of those early conversations that you were having with yourself what am I doing? Yeah. It was funny because like I said, I always thought I wanted a private practice and wanted to work for myself. That always sounded really exciting. But once you really get into it, you’re like, wow. This is a lot of work and I’m not a businesswoman, which is one of the reasons I was drawn to you with your mba. I think that’s really important.

And you bring so much value to everything that, that you’ve been doing, which is great. And I’ve learned a lot about business through you. So thank you. So thank you. That’s been a huge a huge learning curve. I think I was, one of the biggest things was okay, how am I really gonna run a business?

What does that even look like? Finances, how are we gonna, how am I gonna do all of this? So that’s broad, but I think it took me, but I, coming from a full-time job to really nothing that was super uncomfortable for me. And so I like really, like I said, jumped in with two feet, started, got my L C tried to figure out how.

What I needed to do to start seeing patients as quickly as possible. Having client contracts, medical, the malpractice insurance, some of those first steps that you have to take just so that I could start being profitable or trying to be at least breakeven. Yeah. And do you work in a, do you have a physical location or do you do.

Mostly virtual. I do. You do? Cool. So I have a location. Yep. So I’ve got a little office space that’s in kind of a, I guess it’s not necessarily a, we work, but it’s a bunch of kind of entrepreneurs, but it’s attached to a dermatologist’s office, which is nice. So sometimes I can get a little bit more, get more people through that.

But I also see clients virtually, just depending on the licensure laws here in the us. So I do a little bit of both, which is great. But it’s nice. I’m more of an in-person kind of gal. Yeah. Okay. And so is that, was that sort of the biggest prompt for you actually finding a physical office space versus just operating virtually?

I. Yeah I’m, I don’t do well staying at home all day. Sure. I’m like a hundred percent extrovert. I need to change locations and see people. So yes, but I also think it really depends on where you live, yeah. I think the community that I’m in, everyone around here or just doing more things in person.

And I also found with, so since I take insurance, it was more likely to cover in person than virtual. I even still now don’t get. Some of some people don’t have virtual visits in their policy. Oh, interesting. And so what was it like to find a physical office space? How did you find your location?

Good question. Harder than I actually thought. I was like, oh, this won’t be a problem. And then at first, I was like I don’t really wanna pay a whole month rent, right? Because I’m not really seeing patients. I’m not all the way, like a hundred percent full. And so at first I started working through an actual WeWork where I shared a room and you I scheduled patients, but I had to schedule my patients around other people’s schedules.

And so if that’s what I did at first, and it was affordable and it was exactly what I needed at that time, but then it just got really exhausting and then people needed to reschedule and then I couldn’t find a slot that was available. And so at that point I was getting busier. And so I wanted to have my own space and it’s been so nice to have my own.

Base and I think a hundred percent worth the little bit more money that I’m paying for it. Just to be in charge of your own schedule really. But that was hard. I reached out to, so I used all my connections and honestly just, I would look up any type of real estate company in the area that I’m in.

Even posting and looking on Facebook marketplace for office space. So it did take me quite a while. And then to find the right one I’m like, I don’t wanna be in a closet. I need a window. Yeah. So that definitely took some time. But I found the space that I’m in now, that I’m super happy with probably almost, about six to eight months ago.

And it’s been a great fit. Very cool. And do you just pay like a monthly rent like you would if you were renting an apartment? Exactly. Yeah. So it’s monthly and it’s, they have a conference room that’s, I get five visits a month that I could, if I needed a bigger space. And there’s a nice kitchen they take care of the cleaning and there’s a printer, which is nice, honestly.

Cause I do a lot of printing and so they cover that. Yeah. Which is great. Yeah, so it’s easy. It’s an expense. So I get to write it off. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s awesome. That’s great. But I also, I work at home a good bit too. It’s flexible. Yeah. Which is nice if I wanna be working from home. Yeah.

My husband also works from home, and so we both can’t be, working from home all day. Yeah. First of all, I just love how I. Thrifty you were with regards to starting at a co-working space, like starting with a WeWork. I think that’s brilliant. It’s such a great, yeah thank you. It’s just like a low hanging fruit way to get started without, because I think, so many people get hung up on like the, oh, but I can’t find this office space and what if I, are they gonna make me sign a whole year lease?

What if I can’t keep paying rent and. There’s a lot of factors that go into that. And so I think that starting at a co-working space is so smart. It’s just easy. It’s easy. It was, it’s just a great way to get your foot in the door with regards Absolut to Absolutely. Seeing patients in person.

You meet people and I’ll say I also, when I couldn’t get used that space, I would meet people at libraries a lot of times. Oh, cool. Libraries have rooms that you can rent ahead of time for free. And so I would meet people there somewhere that was, as secure as possible. Yeah. Yeah, I was definitely a little, had to be a little scrappy.

I was trying to not spend so much. Yeah. I also think, that’s such an important lesson too though, in terms of just knowing yourself as an entrepreneur. And you had said, I know that I’m not the type of person that just wants to be at home every day. And that’s so important because there’s never one right way to run a business.

Sure. We all need to run the businesses that are right for us and. I think a lot of people resort to a hundred percent virtual because it’s the cheapest option, right? They’re not paying those overhead costs, but sure. We need to think about investments and investments being the smartest move for our business, right?

And for you, that you work best and you’re gonna be the most effective in your work. When you’re not in your house all day, which is totally essential. Yes. You’re exactly right. Yeah, your work, work life balance and workplace happiness. I think is so much of it. And so many people do awesome at home.

Yeah. And we also live in a small apartment, but one day when we have a bigger home, hopefully yeah. I can do more work from home. Yeah. But I’m, I get easily distracted, so it’s better for me to be That’s fair. In my own space. Yeah. I know. That’s the hard part about being at home and I’m, I’ve gotten quite, I think I’m pretty good at.

Staying focused because I have to be, and like I’ve been doing this full time for three years now and I’m like, if I wasn’t then it would not be good at this point. But it’s hard right when the kitchen’s right. Very hard there. It’s like there’s laundry and there’s just so many other things that could be taking your time, but absolutely.

It’s part of the learning curve. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Yep. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about, I’m really curious and I wanna ask you a few questions about your decision to accept insurance. Sure. Because I know that’s a big decision for a lot of people when they’re first getting started. It’s okay, do we do this? Do we go down this road or do we not? Yeah. So what was that decision like for you? What prompted that decision? And then what did it look like to get it set up? Great question. And so really, for me it wasn’t much of a decision. I knew, I just felt like that’s, that was what I knew that I wanted to do.

I wanted to, I think as a dietitian, I’m always trying to serve as many people as I can, and there’s already so much, inequality and healthcare. And so I think, I didn’t just want to say, you can only see me if you pay this fee or pay this private pay. Fee. And so that just didn’t feel right to me.

And I was familiar with billing insurance from my time at Boston Children’s. That was really helpful and taught me a lot about what are the codes and how do you do the units. So I was familiar at least with how it worked, which I think made me feel more comfortable. I was more willing to do it.

I really didn’t think about not. To be honest, I just really, to me it was a no-brainer. I think it’s more equitable and that’s something that I wanted to do right out of the gates, and so I. But with that, you’re right. It’s a big, there are certainly pros and cons.

There are a hundred percent pros and cons, and I think it depends on your population. I know so much in business and you talk a lot about having your niche, right? Nicheing down. And that might be something we get into later, but spoiler alert, I don’t have one niche. I yeah, there’s, I have a lot of interest.

And a lot of things that I like to do. And so I think that was another reason why I would do the insurance because that may give me a bigger pool of clients coming in and a bigger referral stream. So yeah, that’s where I was at with that. And then as far as how that’s so challenging and it’s really not straightforward.

They make it really hard and challenging to go through the process. But the number one thing that I would do, especially as a US based dietitian is you start by creating a profile through this. I guess it’s a third party, it’s the C A Q H, I think is what it’s called. And I honestly couldn’t tell you what it.

Stands for. But essentially you fill out all this information and they communicate with the insurance companies with your infor with the information that the insurance company needs, essentially. So that is really where I got started. And of course, before I decided to definitely take insurance, I wanted to look into what state am I living in, what.

Kind of generally, are they covering what is the coverage like? Unfortunately in the state of Alabama there’s not excellent nutrition coverage, but we’ve got something, so we’ll take it. And hopefully that’s gonna increase over time. I’m hoping to do some advocacy, especially for pediatric nutrition coverage because there’s really not much of that happening through insurance.

Here in Alabama and it’s in more of the Southern states, so that’s a big problem. So yeah, that’s really where I started and I would say, but start early. I would recommend people to start early, try to get your ducks in a row because that process could take close to six months in order to get everything that you need, and then get in order to start actually billing the insurance. But I’ll say it’s been great. Probably the majority of my clients are insurance based, and so they’re not paying anything. I’m just getting, I’m Bill billing their insurance and the insurance company’s paying me.

Yeah. And so what, and it sounds like, just having that. Client pool perhaps has been one of the biggest benefits for you. In terms of accepting insurance, right? Because it almost acts like a bit of a marketing tool for you. A hundred percent, right? Yeah. And I find, so you’re, you’ll be once you are credentialed with the insurance company, you’ll have a profile on their website.

Site. So I get a lot of people reaching out to me just from that. But I find that the doctors in my community are much more likely to refer to me because I take insurance. Oh, I, sorry. And again, this is all depends on where you live and how people value nutrition, but I’m finding that some people don’t wanna pay out of pocket.

They don’t value it, unfortunately, as they should. And it’s, that’s just a, I’d like to be able to offer that I can take insurance or even provide a super bill. Yeah. Hopefully people are probably doing that. If they’re not taking insurance for sure. Which is another awesome way to go around it.

Yeah. But you’re exactly right. More clients. Definitely more referral streams, which is nice. Yeah. That’s really interesting. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about your niches. Yeah. Yes. Cause you alluded to it, plural. Plural plural, which is totally fine. There’s many different ways to run successful businesses, as I always say.

So let’s talk about your different niches that you cover. Okay. So it sounds like you do a lot of GI. Staff from your work in pediatrics and gi but also some ma weight management as well. So tell us about what that journey looked like when went to launch your practice and you were like, okay, who am I working with here?

What did that look like? Yeah that’s, it’s something I still struggle with and I’m still thinking about all the time because I a hundred percent. Agree. It would be easier if I would say, this is exactly who I’m working with and this is what I’m doing. It almost, I’m making it harder on myself, which I do a lot of times to have multiple niches, but I am like, I really love both of these populations and even if.

Several more. So I just, I have a lot of interest and I just, I haven’t gotten to, I haven’t had a moment where I’m like, okay, this is the one, this is what I’m gonna do. And so I maybe hope as I grow through my career that will come up. But right now it’s it’s working for me.

Yeah. And sometimes the two kind of inter intertwine, so like you were mentioning Krista, so my niches would be anything kind of GI related and that can be for adults or pediatrics. So since I’ve been in my private practice, I’m seeing a lot more adult patients than my pediatric patients.

I’m still seeing a good bit of peds, but seeing a lot more adults and mostly for gi. So whether that’s Crohn’s or colitis or gastroparesis Gerd, just anything really under the sun as far as gi. So I’d say that’s one of my niches. And then also just pediatric nutrition, whether it’s picky eating or poor weight gain or weight management.

And then also weight management for adults. So I’m doing a little bit of everything. And it’s interesting, a lot of times I may get referred a client because of GERD or. Ulcerative colitis. But really when the client comes in, they, and I ask them, what would you like to work on?

What are some of your goals? It’s weight management or it’s it’s just wanting to learn about healthy eating. And I do, they sometimes work together. So I’m doing a little bit of everything. I’m not sure if that exactly answers your question, but I think I just couldn’t quite pick one.

And so right now we’re just, Yeah, we’re just doing it all. But it can make it tough because I spend a lot of time doing some more continuing education because I may have someone coming in that I haven’t seen. Maybe it’s ex, e p i, I haven’t seen that in a while. So I need to, yeah, make sure I’m up to date on all the research.

As opposed to if I was only seeing only patients with Crohn’s, then I wouldn’t have to do the extra work. Yeah, and I actually think, I mean there’s a couple things here. I feel like that is actually such a great place to start. I think this is, it’s a great place to start if you feel like, as opposed to getting stuck at a point of being like, I can’t choose anything, so I’m this in this place of analysis paralysis and I’m not gonna make a decision and so I’m just not gonna move forward.

That’s not where we wanna be. And so if moving forward means that we’re a little bit more general in terms of the population groups that we’re serving that’s okay. And a niche is an evolution. And like you were speaking to, it’s like you just haven’t had that moment yet where you’re like, okay, this is the audience that I really wanna focus on.

That moment might come or it might not come, and that’s okay. Sure. But you’re giving it the time and the space to happen. So I think that’s really important. I think that’s really important. I also think too, the other piece on that I was just gonna mention is I also feel like. There can be a benefit, I think in casting the net a little bit wider if you’re insurance based as well, right?

It’s cuz that’s your main marketing tactic is not necessarily Instagram, right? It’s not necessarily trying to get clients off of Instagram. Your main marketing tactic is through these insurance companies, right? And so you it’s probably beneficial for you to cast the net a little bit wider so that you’re.

You know you are searchable to more people. Yes. Yes. I think you’re, I think you’re exactly right. Yeah. So I think, and that’s probably one thing with insurance, like if you’re taking insurance, it’s probably less necessary to really niche down. Yeah. Yeah. Cuz you’re right, you’re not on social media talking to Yeah.

Your target audience as much. So there’s, I think that’s, yeah. And that’s really where it gets challenging for people, right? When we have more than one population group and we’re really trying to focus on platforms like Instagram to attract our ideal client, it’s challenging to try and speak to and attract more than one type of person.

It’s just difficult. It’s not impossible. Yeah. It’s just difficult. It’s difficult. Yeah. And so sometimes, simplifying is, the easiest way to start. But I actually think with insurance that might be might be a bit of a different story yeah. That’s cool. Yeah, I think you’re right.

But it, like you said, it was all about just moving forward. I’m like, I gotta start. Yeah. Hundred gotta get doing this is what we’re doing. Yeah. And it can change, which is the cool thing about having your own business, right? Absolutely. It’s very, it’s evolving. Yes, totally. And so what is your current service structure like?

So do you offer just one-off sessions, people book an initial and then they book follow-ups, or do you offer packages. Yes. And that’s something I’m trying to, I’m probably gonna be changing soon. But right now I’m really offering one-on-ones and follow ups. There’s really nothing super. Super sexy or crazy about it.

And so it’s, they’re, I’m billing through insurance or they’re buying a package from me. So yes, I do package my visits, but they are like, they’re just initials and follow ups. Sure. Or they’re just buying a package of follow-ups if they’re paying out of pocket. I also will have, I’ll do grocery store tours.

That’s something that a lot of people like to do, so that’s something I’ll, I also offer, but I’m. Looking into kind of developing more of a membership program neat. With some meal plans and meal ideas. And so I’ve been looking through a lot of your resources. Cool. And trying to, that’s something that’s on the docket.

Fun. So fun. I think I’m finally ready to do that. I think that’s, I know that’s something you talk about a lot. I think that’s a great, but then again, it’s who am I talking to? Who’s my target audience? And so it kinda gets you into a little bit of a rut when you don’t have that.

Exactly. Yeah. But I think I’ve figured out a way around it. Cool. That’s really cool. Let’s come back to that because I wanna hear more. Sure. So just a, as a little follow up, there are grocery store tours that you’re offering. Typically, would people typically be paying out of Pocket for that?

Correct. Yes. That’s not something, I’m sure it’s yeah, covers that I know about, but people, I’ve got a lot of clients that love it. They’re so fun. Cool. Yeah. A lot of people feel uncomfortable in the grocery store and so it’s nice to go with someone who. Knows what they’re doing. That’s awesome. Very cool.

Okay, so I want to know if there’s anything else. Obviously we’ve talked about insurance companies, we’ve talked about, and maybe even if there’s other referral networks that we haven’t discussed, but what do you feel like has worked well for you so far in terms of getting clients? So like the doctor’s offices?

Yeah. Especially in some of the GI doctor’s offices that are local. They have been great, but honestly, word of mouth. Now that I’ve been in practice for a little bit longer, I’m starting to get referrals from other doctors and other kind of random people. Which has been awesome.

I think word of mouth goes a long way. And that again, the fact that I’m in person, I’m in a smaller community versus. Is like all virtual. That is something. That is beneficial to me. Otherwise where I am actually help profs has brought me a decent amount of clients.

Interesting. Which is interesting. So I’m have the free one for right now, and so it’ll be interesting to see when I start paying how many people I still get. And then, and now even through like a. Google searches. I think everyone should have a, the Google business, make sure their business is there that has helped?

I’m not getting a lot of referrals from Instagram. I would say that’s not my spot, really. Yep. I would say the biggest things are really word of mouth and Doctors, doctor’s offices really and marketing. Is it something I really have not done a ton of, and that I’m really hoping to do more of.

So I really plan to go to other doctor’s offices and check in with them. And even at gyms or just local local community places where I can like, hang up my flyer or talk to people. Yeah, that, that’s what, that’s on my list as well. Very cool. And did you, how did you get connected with some of those doctors that refer to you regularly?

Did you go in, did you meet them? What did that look like? Yeah. Good for you. I just showed up. Yeah. I love it. I like came out. Oh yeah. Gotta, you gotta get out there, you gotta get in there. Yeah, so true. For sure. So I, what did I do? I had some stationary printed with my logo on it. I wrote personal letters to.

Like all the doctors and the practices and I would go and drop those off with some referral forms. And some cookies. I’m Greek and we make some Greek cookies Kool that are pretty delicious. You can’t turn down a cookie, right? Yeah. Yeah. And so I just made ’em like a little gift bag essentially.

And that would follow up. Not even sometimes that I would not hear anything, yeah. People are busy. So following up and asking if there’s an office manager. Or is there a referral director? Those are the people you really wanna get in touch with. So yeah, I went into doctor’s offices.

I would just cold call people, go in. I think thankfully, since this is the community that I grew up with, grew up in, I have some friends whose friends who are now doctors and so now they’re referring to me, which is awesome. Or some friends whose parents work in certain doctor’s offices that I’ve reached out to.

I will say I did a massive like email blast to all of friends, all my family colleagues when I first started, just to get the word out there. I think you just really have to put yourself out there. Yeah. There’s always an opportunity even meeting random people telling them what you do and how you can help them.

Yeah. I think that’s something maybe were you till you did something about the elevator pitch or having a quick kind of like 32nd pitch. I think that’s really smart. Cool. And was that nerve-wracking for you to go into the doctor’s offices or also to send that mass email to friends and family?

I think a lot of people find that really scary. Yeah. Because it’s so vulnerable. They wanna launch their business and have nobody know about it. That doesn’t do as much good. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. I guess it did, but I think that’s, That is, I would say, one of my strong suits. I’m like a hundred percent awesome extrovert.

Put me, and that’s one thing that I did not realize about a private practice. Like I could use some more people. Like I, I’m by myself too much. Yeah. And so going actually to the doctor’s offices to me is really fun. Cool. But then, I struggle with a lot of the business things and the decision making and the finances.

Like those are not my things. Sure. Yeah. Yeah we all have different strengths, so that’s for sure. That’s awesome. That’s for sure. That’s awesome that you’ve been willing to just get out there and get visible in the community and so cool that you really haven’t had to do much marketing and imagine what will happen.

When you do put some time and effort into marketing. Yeah. Truly, right? It’s if your practice is already at the point that it is right now and you really haven’t had to do much, it’s mostly just word of mouth and the referrals that you’ve built, like that’s true. Awesome. That’s really awesome.

Thank you. Thank you. I do think there’s more, I guess when I say like I’m full-time, I’m definitely working full-time. Yeah. But it’s not all income generating. For sure. Like I’m having to do all this other stuff that’s not Yes. So eventually I want, there needs to be some shifts. Yes. For sure.

But that’s what beginning of a business looks, right? That’s what the first Yeah. No, that’s so hard too. Looks like. It’s just trying to figure out how to do the thing and how to structure your time and it’s, Very challenging, but it is, it sounds like you’ve been doing an awesome job.

Thank you. That’s, yeah. The expectation management, I think is important too when you start a business. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. What is it actually gonna be like, and how much money are you really gonna be bringing in? Yeah. Yeah, totally. And so on, on the marketing note, and I know you alluded to this before, but what do you feel like with regards to Instagram, what do you feel like has not worked for you in terms of getting clients?

Re In regards to Instagram? Yeah. Or just in regards to anything else that you feel like you’ve tried that you’re like, eh, that was a flop. Okay. Let me think. Definitely Instagram, but I think it’s because like I’m not talking to one specific person. Sure. I don’t have an Instagram strategy.

I’m sorry. Yeah. I just haven’t, but eventually I would like to. Yeah. I really, that’s definitely something I really need to work on. But there are, I still have gotten some people from there, but I just, I acknowledge that’s not where I’m gonna get my clients right now. Yeah. And it’s more it just, I need to have, I need to have some sort of presence.

Yeah. Other marketing that did not work. I think I was invited to, I did a farmer’s market. There’s a really awesome big farmer’s market in Birmingham. And they asked me to come and do some, like right before school started and do some like healthy snacks and healthy lunch options for kiddos going back to school.

And I had a, it was a great, we set up a whole tent and had a bunch of people and got people’s email addresses, but it’s been interesting. Very few of them. Like that said, they were interested in seeing me have actually responded, yeah. But that was still great visibility. Like I met some really important people at that event that then helped me.

Yeah. So yeah. I think you just don’t know what’s gonna work and I think that’s the point of the first year just really throwing a lot of things out there and seeing what sticks and what works things. Yeah. Trying a bunch of things. Exactly. Which, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome.

Thanks for just your transparency around all of that. I know sometimes it’s hard to talk about the things that just don’t work, but there’s always no, I’ll tell you don’t work. Absolutely. Always. That’s good information. Then you’re spend money. Hundred percent. Yeah, totally. So what’s one piece of advice that you would give to brand new business owners or those people who are looking to start a practice?

I would say number one, just start. Just start even if it’s an Instagram account Start thinking about who do you wanna serve and what type of information are you gonna be giving out and start when you have another job. A hundred percent. Yeah. It’s like looking for a job when you don’t have, when you don’t have a job, right?

Yeah. I think it’s, I would definitely recommend having a job starting small and then I’d totally say get involved with dse. Your resources have been so helpful and I wish I had found them earlier. I think. It’s been such a great roadmap for me, especially as I wasn’t ready to spend the money for a full on coach.

Yeah. I could just take, walk myself through so many of your resources that were super helpful. So I would say, get started and invest in DS D S C or a coach or somebody who can walk alongside you to help you. That’s awesome. Thanks for that plug. Appreciate that. Yeah. Heck yeah.

And so what’s next for your business? I know you, you alluded to it before with the membership. I want, I wanna hear more about that. Okay. God, the biggest thing is I’m actually pregnant and expecting. Oh, congratulations. Thank you. Congratulations. Thank you. Thank you. You’re very excited having a little boy.

That’s gonna shake things up a little bit. Yeah. But one of the reasons why I love that I have a private practice because I get to decide when am I gonna work and how is, how’s this gonna work for our family? And so I think when I was starting my business and now like I think about it’s a long game.

I think that’s another piece of advice I would give to people starting at private practice is think about it as a long game. It’s not a short game thing. Yeah. And so with little man coming, I need to, I really, I’m starting to think actually about hiring. I would love some extra help in the administra administrative role.

That becomes a lot, as you probably know. And then even hiring another dietitian, I think would be, would be awesome. So those are definitely thinking about hiring. Hiring and memberships are the biggest things that are on my docket right now. And so as far as membership, I’m thinking I’ll package do a three month, maybe have some visits and also give people access.

I use something called Eat Love, which is a a meal planning tool. Get access to that. And maybe just keep it really simple for now and just do general healthy eating or weight loss. And then if they have insurance, we could deduct, the price would not be as high, but if they don’t have insurance, then it’s gonna be a certain rate.

So I need to figure that out a little bit. So I haven’t I’ve also I would love to offer. Like in-person workshops. That’s something that I hope to offer in the future. And something, oh, that’s something that didn’t work. I was gonna do that this spring was to offer like a, maybe I can’t even remember now, a six week workshop.

And I was marketing, I think during the holidays and nobody, no, only had two people sign up. And then I’m like, ah, I don’t know if this is worth it. And then I decided to not do it. And then the week before all these people reached out, were like, are you doing it? Are you doing it? Course? I’m like, of no.

Yeah, why didn’t you ask me? Come on guys again. Exactly. So I think, that’s one thing that didn’t work that I will remember for next time. But I like in-person things, so I think I would love, and I think the community that I live in, values in person things as well. So some sort of workshop Yeah.

So I don’t know. I haven’t gotten quite gotten them there. Yeah. But that is what I’m hoping for. Very cool. And just as a Sidebar to that question. Do you have, and I’m just curious because a question came up in the D s C community. Yesterday, somebody posted a question about how do you take some sort of a maternity leave when you have your business?

And she was asking, what have other dietitian done? What does that look like? Do you have a plan for that yet, or, Not really, to be honest. Not really. I should check. I should connect. I should connect with, yeah, totally. Yeah. My plan is I would like to. So the other piece actually is something, the other thing that I would like to have is a passive income, like a course or something that people can access. So I don’t really have a, I don’t really have a plan to be honest. That’s where I’m thinking about maybe hiring someone else on that might be able to take care of the clients while I’m away and even start their own group of clients. So I don’t know.

And seeing, I think the good thing is that I can be flexible and see clients at different times and see some virtually. So I’m hoping to keep things moving and hoping to create some content that I can put on social media so it’s not like it’s complete crickets. Yeah. Yeah, so we’ll see.

Ideally I would have some sort of like a membership or group that people could join to do while I’m on my maternity leave, so I’m still trying to figure that out. Yeah. Do you have any suggestions? Yeah, Kristen I actually have the perfect podcast episode, free episode for Oh, good.

Yeah. As I was thinking about this, because I, so a couple weeks ago I interviewed a friend of mine who, her name is Kristen. She’s been on the podcast before and she has a private practice and she’s had She’s since grown it to a team of six dietitian. So she has six dietitian. Amazing. Working under her.

And it’s an interesting story because she actually started insurance based and then she switched to cash pay, which is, so it’s a really interesting story. I love to listen. Yeah. But anyways, so she talks about, and I’m just looking at my calendar. Here it comes, it’s coming out on March 30th. So in two weeks, depending on when people are listening to this episode.

But Anyways with that as well, she talks about how, cuz she had a baby last year and so she talks about that whole transition of hiring a dietitian when she was, when she knew she was having a baby and just that whole, so it is the perfect podcast episode for you and I’m excited offer you to listen to it.

Thank you. Put it on my calendar. Yeah, totally. Totally. That’s, and you know what, I think it’s such a, it’s such a challenging thing and definitely connect with that other D s E member, because I think that there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of dietitian that are going through this or have gone through this and are in the same boat in terms of okay, but what do I do with my clients?

How do we ensure that there’s continuity? What do we do when I come back? How long am I taking if there’s a lot of questions there? So yeah, there are. And some days just can’t, you don’t know until baby get here. Totally. Yeah. Yeah. So you’ll figure it out. For sure. That’s right. That’s not. Thank you so much for your time, Sophie.

It was so good to talk to you. So good to talk to you. Thanks for having me. Openness. With regards to sharing about your business, I think there was so much useful, just tips and content within that interview. Where can the audience find out more about you and the work that you do? Thanks so much for having me.

I love getting to share it. Thanks again. So to find me, you can find me at Sophie dolan dot rd on Instagram. That’s probably where I am mostly. Or I’m happy to connect with anyone. If you want to email me, they can email me at sophie dolan rd gmail.com. And that’s about it, I think. Awesome.

Thanks Sophie. That was great. Thanks so much.

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