Monday, August 1, 2016

They Turned Their Passion For Wellness Into Fast-Growing Businesses

Many people are passionate about health and wellness but aren’t sure how to turn their interest into a sustainable career. To gather some insight into how to pull it off, I recently spoke with three solo wellness professionals from around the country about how they have built practices around their personal passions. Here is a look at how they created unique and thriving practices in the $3.4 billion global wellness market.

He turned a running injury into a fast-growing coaching practice

After Jason Fitzgerald, 32, ran the New York City Marathon in 2008, he came away with an unwelcome memento: shooting pains in his knee whenever he hit the road. The serious runner, a former college athlete, spent six months seeing physical therapists and poring over running books to try to heal himself. After starting strength training and changing his race preparation methods, he saw a major difference. By 2010, the Denver resident launched a blog called Strength Running, to share ideas on how to run faster without getting hurt. He has had only one injury since 2009, he says.

Today Strength Running has grown to more than 200,000 readers per month. Inspired by the online course Zero to Launch, the father of two now brings in more than $200,000 a year in his business and was able to leave his full-time job at a consultancy. He loves the freedom that owning his own business brings and the control he has over his own destiny.

“The lack of sense of ownership of what you’re working on in a corporate job can be very frustrating,” says Fitzgerald. “At the last job I had, our clients were in the government. There were so many things we all wanted to do and knew we could do but because of all of the red tape, policies and procedures that had to be in place, things moved very slowly. In my business, if I have an idea, I can move extremely quickly on it.”

So how does Fitzgerald bring in a six-figure income from his blog? One key strategy is developing multiple revenue streams. The 2:39 marathoner and USA Track & Field certified coach generates about 45% of his revenue from doing one-on-one coaching and crafting customized training plans and about 40-45% from an injury prevention program he sells. Much of the coaching is done by email. “Most of my runners prefer email,” says Fitzgerald. “They have busy lives, too.” The rest of his income comes from affiliate marketing through Amazon and freelance writing. He extends his reach by hiring contractors, such as a content editor and video producer.

Fitzgerald’s number one tip for others who want to build a high-revenue blogging business? Be consistent. The highly discplined runner updated his blog twice a week for the first five months to ensure that he built a following and runs an email newsletter to stay top of mind. “If you are not writing one or two really high quality pieces of content every single week, you can’t expect your business to grow,” he says.

Although Fitzgerald concentrated on running, he says there are plenty of other areas where it’s possible to turn a personal passion into a high-revenue blog. “There are so many opportunities to build a business around something you love, whether that’s running, food, or negotiation skills,” he says. “You can do almost anything.”

He learned an uncommon skill and focused his life on perfecting it

After leaving his undergraduate studies at Rutgers University to work as a percussionist on the world music scene and a carpenter, Chuck Carpenter attended a workshop on holistic healing that changed his life.

The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration was offering presentations in New York City by top Rolfers, practitioners who use a system of soft-tissue manipulation to get clients out of pain. Rolfing was created by the late Ida Rolf, a biochemist, who worked in the departments of chemotherapy and organic chemistry at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. She found she could improve people’s posture by manipulating the myofascial system—made up of muscle and connective tissue—and developed a series of 10 sessions to deal with imbalances in the body.

“She felt each one of us was struggling with how to be balanced in a field of gravity,” says Carpenter. “Our job was to help people find that balance and remove the restrictions they had built throughout their life that prevented them from achieving that balance. That was inspiring.”

At the time, the human potential movement was in full swing, and Carpenter was personally intrigued by Ida Rolf’s message. “The idea that you can change the human form and improve on how we function in the world was really kind of a mind blowing concept at the time,” says Carpenter.

By the late eighties, Carpenter had enrolled at the Rolf Institute, based in Boulder, Colo., to learn how to Rolf. “The work is all hands-on,” he says. “We use our fingertips, knuckles, open fist, forearm and elbow as our tools.”

He saw parallels to his music. “There is an improvisational aspect of analyzing what’s involved and what needs to be done—and being open to whatever presents itself to you,” says Carpenter.

After graduating, Carpenter set up a studio in a five-bedroom house he rented in East Brunswick N.J., where other roommates shared the overhead, enabling him to keep his overhead lean. Young and single, he was able to devote himself 100% to the practice. “If you don’t have obligations and you’re committed to the work and you’re good at it, it builds pretty quickly,” he says.

As a Certified Advanced Rolfer, he found that offering a relatively uncommon service drew clients to his practice. Many came to him after exhausting other options to get out of pain. “Within six months, I had a full practice, with 20 people or more a week,” he recalls. “It gives me a sense of satisfaction that I can bring something to their lives that they can’t find anywhere else.”

Soon Carpenter moved his practice into the office of an osteopathic physician in nearby Edison , N.J.–which contributed to a steady flow of clients–as well as a second studio in New York City. Over the years, thanks to word-of-mouth referrals, he has worked with everyone from dancers and bodybuilders to construction workers who use heavy equipment and office workers who hunch over a computer all day. “Our bodies are not designed for us to stare at a screen for eight to 10 hours a day,” says Carpenter.

An important key to providing relief to all of his clients, he has found, is listening.

“In order to help somebody, you have to be present and listen carefully to how they describe what they are feeling, knowing they may not have the vocabulary,” says Carpenter. “They are describing feelings and sensations unique to them.”

As he grew the practice, Carpenter found that knowing he was helping his clients kept him inspired. “I was born to a single mother,” he says. “I never knew my father. Somewhere in there I’m sure there was a sense of abandonment. I liked being needed.”

When a recession hit in the early nineties. “I was really worried,” he recalls. “People were losing their jobs.” He wondered if clients would still be able to afford to come to him. Instead, he says, “I got busier.” As many of his clients lost their health insurance and had to pay for health-related costs out of pocket, he says, “they found Rolfing was the most cost-efficient way of dealing with their problems.”

Although Rolfing sometimes unlocks emotional pain, Carpenter says that clients don’t cry during sessions as often as is sometimes implied. When they do, he says, “it usually involves a serious trauma.” In some cases, he refers them to therapists he knows. “There is a lot of pain in the world and a lot of hurt,” says Carpenter. “It is possible for them to get to the other side. Having seen people move through it over time gives you not just hope but knowledge there is light at the other end.”

Over the years, the steady practice enabled him to support his former wife and his daughter, now heading off to college. He charges $180 per one-hour session, comparable to other Rolfers in the New York City area.

Although some clients come for just a few sessions, others keep coming back for maintenance. “I’ve been seeing many of my clients for twenty-something years,” he says. “I know their physical structure. I use that knowledge to keep them well.”

After several decades in practice, Carpenter has no plans to slow down–nor the fears that corporate professionals at comparable stages of their careers have about getting laid off. That, he says, is the beauty of running his own practice. “I plan to keep doing this until I can’t do it anymore,” says Carpenter.

This chiropractor spun his interests in health and entrepreneurship into three six-figure businesses

Jeremy Weisz, 37, a chiropractor in Chicago, has long had a second passion: entrepreneurship. In June 2011, he tapped into that interest as branched out from his practice, founded in 2005. He launched InspiredInsider, a podcast where he interviews leaders and founders of successful businesses, such as Baby Einstein creator Julie Clark, as well as thought leaders such as Essentialism author Greg McKeown and Paleo diet expert Loren Cordain.

Inspired by his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor who was interviewed by Steven Speilberg’s USC Shoah Foundation about his experiences, Weisz focuses on asking guests how they overcame their toughest challenges. “I always picture them leaving a legacy, as well,” says Weisz. “Their stories are going to live on.”

To combine his passion for entrepreneurship with his chiropractic business, Weisz two years ago began ramping up an ecommerce store he had started , marketing nutritional supplements he once sold only to patients, after doctors who liked the supplements began asking how to order them for their own patients. “I see it as a way to help more patients,” Weisz says. Like his chiropractic practice, his ecommerce store has grown to a six-figure business.

On top of this, he and business partner John Corcoran opened The Entrepreneurs’ Retreat, a business that holds getaways where small groups of entrepreneurs can talk business. It, too brings in six figure revenue, he says.

Owning several successful businesses has made life easier financially for Weisz, a married father, but it means he is very busy. He has tried to limit his business travel so he isn’t often far from home. “I look at how I want to be, personally as well as professionally,” he says. “I value my marriage and my kids.”

His secret for getting it all done? He chunks up his time. “I sometimes will do an interview from 8:30 to 9:30 am,” he says. “Then I will see patients from 9:30 until noon. Then from noon until about 3 pm, I will work on the interviews. From 3 pm to 6:30 or 7, I will see patients.” Then he takes a break for personal and family time—before jumping on his computer from about 10:30 until 2 am.

His schedule might sound tiring, but it’s hard for him to slow down. “I have so many passions,” he says. He’s in the lucky position of acting on them, every day.

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