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My First Years as a Dietitian Entrepreneur: Top 3 Things You Need To Know Before You Get Started

Stephanie Clairmont, MHSc, RD, is an entrepreneur, culinary dietitian, and owner of the Clairmont Digestive Clinic in Waterloo, Ontario. She is a speaker, consultant, and cooking instructor on all things surrounding digestive nutrition. Struggling for years with IBS herself, Stephanie is passionate about using delicious recipes and real food to help her clients follow a gluten-free and/or low FODMAP diet. Stephanie is also the co-founder of the Demos for Dietitians program, workshops that help dietitians learn culinary skills and how to teach cooking. She believes that real, wholesome food is the true key to health, from the way food is grown all the way to how it is presented on the plate. Stephanie is the 2010 recipient of the National Speaking of Food and Healthy Living Award.  Contact Stephanie via her website at

I am Stephanie Clairmont, an entrepreneur and Registered Dietitian. As I write this article and reflect on my journey so far, I realize that the years are starting to blur together. I need to really think hard to remember when I first started my business as so many things have happened in the past few years. I started my practice part-time in the spring of 2011. I was a dietitian for just 18 months before I realized that I wanted to run my own business. At first, it was because I couldn’t find a job that would allow me to do what I loved, so I thought I would make up my own job! I had some ideas on what this business might look like, but wasn’t exactly sure how to make it all happen.

It is my pleasure to share with you the top 3 things I think you need to know before getting started. I’ve learned a lot the hard way and I hope this article can save you some time and money.
1. Just Get Started!

I am a planner. I like to be organized and years ago thought I could plan out every detail. I developed a business plan and started offering in-home nutrition services – that was the first step in my adventure. Well, let me tell you, you can’t plan for everything! When I first started, I never imagined I would be doing what I am now – I specialize in digestive nutrition and IBS and run workshops for dietitians across the country! You never know where your career will take you, but you need to simply take the first step and get started. It makes it easier to get started by looking for a part-time paid position so you can have some income while you build your business. Whether you decide to start part-time or jump in with both feet, decide what works for you and just get in there. You learn so much about running a business by actually running a business! Things you would never figure out through countless hours of reading and studying, what works and what doesn’t. The longer you delay, the longer it will take you to get there. It’s ok if it doesn’t work out, you will learn so much about yourself and find out if you are truly meant to be an entrepreneur by giving it a real shot. If this is something you need help with, I’m always happy to answer questions or provide coaching. Just get in touch.
2. Choose a Niche: Focus on What you Love
Are you a born foodie like me? Consider offering food-focused lunch and learns where you cook and teach about nutrition. Maybe you’re a successful mom of two that has great advice on pregnancy workouts, baby food, and stress management! You could create a practice that focuses on helping moms get ready for baby and supports them during the first few years. When I started, I tried to create services that I thought were different and although this brought me some business, I struggled. I offered services in every area from family health, to weight loss, to cholesterol lowering. After the first year, I found that my main problem was that I didn’t know where to get new clients. I spent money on advertising and attended trade shows but barely got clients this way. I struggled to increase my bookings and my client list with a general audience.
In business 101, choosing a niche area is a key concept. We need to apply this to the field of nutrition. Once you identify who your audience is, your website, blog, social media messaging, and products will all be focused on this group of people. You’ll know where to find the right customers and clients too. You will waste less money on advertising and marketing to the wrong people. Let’s take our ‘new mom nutrition’ example – you could advertise on local new mom blogs, put flyers up at fitness studios and community centres that have pre-natal programs, have a booth at family and mom trade shows, and have a really cool blog with a mom-to-mom voice. Your branding would be focused at moms and you could even create local partnerships with other organizations that focus on prenatal and postnatal services. I’m not sure who said this first, but here’s an important thought to reflect on: “If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to no one”.
3. Study Business Concepts, Marketing, and Embrace Social Media
Spend every waking minute on learning how to run a business! Ok, maybe not every waking minute - but I can honestly tell you that with very little business training (I took one intro to marketing class in undergrad) I spend close to 50% of my time on actually running my business. This involves targeted marketing, brand building, networking, bookkeeping, product development, answering questions, purchasing supplies, and so much more! You might have a great concept and be a fabulous RD, but if you don’t spend time on actually running your business and attracting new clients, you won’t get anywhere. I suggest making a monthly/yearly plan on where to spend your time and money to connect with potential clients. Social media is a great tool to connect with people, share content, and make special offers to encourage people to seek your service. One of my favourite books is called “Duct Tape Marketing” by John Jantsch, which teaches key concepts you’ll need to know to get clients. Pay attention to what your favourite companies are doing and try to apply some of the concepts to your business. Remember to stay authentic to who you are as this is key to running a business in 2014. Be natural, be yourself. Learn from others, but don't copy what someone else is doing. Spend time figuring out your own style, how you want to engage with your audience, and what your content or service will look like.
It’s also ok to try something and let it go. When I first started, my business was called “Whole Food Therapy”. I didn’t have an office, worked on my dining room table, and visited clients in their homes. After three months, I realized $90 wasn’t covering the 3 hours it took to prepare for the appointment, travel, set-up, and provide service! I also realized everyone wanted after work appointments only. I learned and moved on. My last piece of advice is – don’t be afraid to fail! I have these two quotes up on my wall to help me keep going when I feel like giving up:
A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.” – George M. Moore, Jr.
Never never never give up.” – Winston Churchill
Thank you for allowing me into you world; I wish you the very best in all your business endeavours!
Much love & good eating,
Stephanie Clairmont, MHSc, RD
Culinary Dietitian & President
Clairmont Digestive Clinic
Clairmont Consulting

Editor's Note: If you've ever attended one of Stephanie's workshops or webinars, you know that she is quite the talent!  Always forging new ground and open and willing to share her expertise.  Leave a comment and let her know your thoughts on her tips and tricks to entrepreneurship.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your insights about entrepreneurship with us. I especially appreciate the forthright advice to dive in headfirst. Similarly I feel this perfectionist mindset building a wall between the passion and concrete action. This was really helpful for me to read in this stage of my education, I hope to see an event of yours' pop up in Montreal!
  2. wow! Stephanie you are indeed an inspiration to a lot of people out there more especially to me as a dietetics student.This really motivates me and congratulations for having to establish such an amazing enterprise.May your dreams keep on coming true.with more grace!!!
  3. I was thinking on the same idea and came across your post. A real helpful post. Would like to talk further... Thank you
  4. Hello there Stephanie! thanks for this post! i just want to ask for your opinion on : i'm on my second year of studying a bachelor in dietetics(a 4 years course), i was thinking of making my own business too in the future and my university is going to make a program which is "online business springboard", it is a short program (3 days only). I would really love to join it, but then my dad told me that it is too early for me to plan about doing a business in the future and i think he preferred that i focus on my study in the class first. do you think it is too early for me to be involved in such program that may teach me on how to build my brand and build my own buisness as a 2nd year student?
  5. Great work well done. would you be interested in starting a similiar model in South africa? I run a large private practice in south africa and would love to chat further
  6. Thanks for all the feedback and encouragement people! Happy to lend a helping hand. Excited to work with you all in 2015 with more cool programs to come.
  7. Thanks so much for sharing! It was such an inspiring and informative read! Congratulations on having established such a successful business, so proud to see fellow RD's out there and doing innovative things!
  8. I love what you do Stephanie. I am lucky to take the Demos of Dietitians online program, low FODMAP diet, and other workshops you facilitated or co-facilitated. I saw your passion to food and nutrition in these workshops and in this article! Keep it up!
  9. Amazing post, always appreciate hearing what works and what doesn't work from first hand experiences. I am on your email list and love it!
  10. Thanks Stephanie. Great advice. Especially the part about choosing a niche based on your passion. I will have to read that book you mentioned. Another book that I found to be really helpful is "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries. Best of luck!

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