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Canadian Small Business Success Story: Nutritional Coach Tzabia Siegel

Updated:2010-06-03 17:46:44

Tzabia Siegel is a trained coach who offers "freedom from dieting for a lifetime". Coaching services are offered through one-on-one coaching, tele-coaching, workshops, and speaking engagements. She is a certified Holistic Nutritionist with nine years of practice as a Nutritional Consultant.

But how did she get to be a successful professional doing what she loves to do? This is Tzabia's success story – a story that provides plenty of tips for anyone who wants to grow their professional services business.

Getting Started

Even as a teen, Tzabia was fascinated by the human body, how it functioned and how she felt in it when she ate particular foods and when she moved in different ways. She graduated from university with a degree in Physical Education with a specialty in fitness.

However, she discovered that there was little money to be made in teaching movement and started investigating, in her own words, "what I was interested in, what the world needed and what I could make money doing." This led to her training as a Holistic Nutritionist.

Tzabia was still searching for her "ideal work" though. "I knew there was something that I needed to add to the work I was doing in nutrition and movement to be satisfied that I was contributing to the world and to be financially successful," she says.

That ideal work turned out to be coaching. Coaching "was a natural for me as I had always loved asking people provocative questions. I was naturally curious about what made people tick, what they yearned for, what they are passionate about, what is going on in the deeper recesses of their mind. And it seemed to be a great fit with my prior training as there was an overweight/obesity epidemic and I knew that few people were talking about the real issues beyond food and exercise." So Tzabia trained to become a coach through Coaches Training Institute and Coachville.

Her expenses in her first year of business were $8000.00. More than 50% of that went towards training and being coached. The rest went towards standard operating expenses of a home-based business with some directed towards advertising (mostly online) and Web and graphic design.

Her first client was a fellow trainee that she met during her coach training. Other clients came through meeting her as a nutritional advisor or seeing her card at yoga studios.

Business Success Tips

    Focus on a money-making model - Tzabia discovered there was little money in teaching movement and searched for a service that would fill a need, be enjoyable, and be financially viable. Teaching movement met the first two requirements but not the third, so she adjusted her business model. See Is Your Business Model Broken? for more on how to develop a business model that makes you more money.

    Get the training/ skills you need - Coaching seemed to be a good idea as Tzabia realized she'd be good at it and that there would be a demand for nutritional coaching. She took the time and spent the money to get the training she needed to practice. As she says, "Develop professionally, personally and as a business person. Learn what your weaknesses in any of the above are and seek to get better in that area or hire someone to help you."

Tzabia Siegel's success story continues on the next page, with tips for marketing professional services and a look at the realities of running your own business.

Marketing Professional Services

Tzabia's marketing of her nutritional coaching business has developed as she has developed professionally. She had to get enough experience as a weight loss coach to understand her target market, develop a model, find a brand... in short, to figure out how to best market her business.

"For the first two and a half years I was marketing myself as The Food Coach, a good name for a nutritionist but not broad enough for a coach who is helping people in mind, emotion, food, soul, movement and rest. I always felt a little uneasy with that brand, as though it didn't quite fit. It held me back from really getting out there in a big way. I put my cards out in places, did some networking, some article writing, and had a newsletter."

"Now that the model and the brand of Freedom from Dieting is clearly in place, my marketing strategy has shifted into a larger arena; I am focusing on bigger speaking engagements, audio podcasts, article and blog exposure, TV appearances and creating alliances."

From the very beginning, Tzabia knew that having a strong web presence would be a key marketing strategy for her. It took Tzabia nine months to birth her first Web site, with the help of her niece who is a part-time web designer. Tzabia describes her first Web site as a turning point - "It became a professional calling card, and a place that I could send people when they expressed any interest in my services but were not clear about what it is that I do."

Her second Web site (Freedom From Dieting) has again taken her business to a new plateau. It's been crucial in helping Tzabia reach a global market and bring in business. And as she develops more products and services (e-books, CDs, audio programs, teleclasses), the site is becoming even more of an asset.

Business Success Tips

    Make Web marketing a part of your marketing strategy from the very first - At first Tzabia used her Web site as "a professional calling card, and a place that I could send people when they expressed any interest in my services but were not clear about what it is that I do". Now she's using a second Web site to move her brand into a larger arena. A Web site can be a real marketing asset, even if you provide professional services to mainly local clients.

    Turn your services into products - Tzabia realizes that providing services one-on-one has a built-in income ceiling. Even if you got all the clients, there are only so many hours in a day and realistically, only so much you can charge for your services before you price yourself out of the market. Tzabia's solution to this problem is to develop products and services that allow her to go beyond one-on-one teaching. C.J. Hayden explains how to do this in Turn Your Services Into a Product.

The Reality of Running a Small Business

It took three years for Tzabia's coaching business to become self-supporting.

One-on-one coaching is Tzabia's bread and butter at this point.

While she loves it, her longer term goal is to reach a larger market which means that speaking and teleclasses will be a bigger part of her income as she grows the business. "Eventually," Tzabia says, "I will teach others how to coach. From a financial perspective my time will be more richly rewarded for coaching many at a time rather than just one."

Right now, most of her time is spent in one-on-one coaching and product/service development and marketing.

Tzabia generally works between 35 and 60 hours per week. Like most of us, she finds that the higher number of hours is way out of her balance zone.

"I can handle 45 hours per week. This leaves enough time to get my movement in, to get outside, to cook good meals, to hang out with my family, to relax on the weekends, and to occasionally indulge in mid-week time off – a treat that I find luxurious."

Besides work, Tzabia loves to hang out with her teenage son, her partner Barry and her extended family and closest friends, read engaging fiction, and explore world music. She's also a minor movie buff, a competitive scrabble player and a traveler (the more remote, the better). And of course, she spends time practicing yoga and dance. When she has more time and space, she will, she says, "get back to my art (collage) in a bigger way."

On the upside, Tzabia truly loves what she does and finds it intensely satisfying. She couldn't ask for more satisfying work than being "a part of another person's transformation to a place of deeper self-respect, confidence, health, inner peace and capacity for self-care".

Plans for Future Business Success

With her Freedom From Dieting brand established, Tzabia is well positioned to expand her business and reach a more global market. Part of her specific strategies to accomplish this involve writing three e-booklets and developing a CD audio course over the next year, while continuing to coach and seek out speaking engagements and media opportunities.

She would also like to get her pet project underway, developing movement salons where people can come to dance/move freely and learn to collaborate creatively, "a gift for both myself and anyone who chooses to participate." Finding studio space to get this going that she can also operate her business out of is going to be a priority this year.

And eventually, with her business "solidly established in virtual space", Tzabia plans to move back to the country, where she can host retreats and trainings while continuing to travel for group engagements.

Even when your business is already a success story, there are always more peaks to scale!

Tzabia Siegel is a coach and certified Holistic Nutritionist who offers "freedom from dieting for a lifetime" through one-on-one coaching, tele-coaching, workshops, and speaking engagements. Visit her Freedom from Dieting Web site or contact her by phone at 416-826-6530 to learn more about how you can "Heal Your Relationship with Food, Love Your Body & Empower Your Self".



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