We're excited to share an interview with our Digital Marketing Strategist and designer, Jessica Pantermuehl. Jessica is also doing a business webinar series sponsored by Biotics Research Northwest called Creating An Online Presence. You can register for the next two webinars in the series here and watch the first webinar's replay here.
Jessica Pantermuehl, NTP, CHHC is a nutritional therapy practitioner and holistic health coach based out of Los Angeles. She serves as the head of nutrition counseling for an integrative medical practice and also works with clients in her private practice.
After four years in practice, intimately familiar with the challenges that a practitioner faces in running their own business, Jessica established the Holistic Entrepreneur Association, which provides business tools and resources to nutrition-oriented health professionals. With members now in 13 countries, the HEA offers free weekly resources such as interviews with successful practitioners and articles on marketing and practice management and shareable social media content. Through the Association, Jessica additionally provides digital marketing strategy and consulting. She consults for organizations such as the Nutritional Therapy Association and Biotics Research Northwest, as well as with individual practitioners.
Outside of working as a practitioner and running the association, she loves graphic design, cooking and hiking in sunny southern California.
How did you get to where you are today?
A lot of perseverance! It was tough in the beginning to be honest – I felt overwhelmed a lot of the time with the business side of things. When we graduate from our respective schools and programs and begin working with clients, we’re really entering the world of entrepreneurship (whether or not we know it), and that was not something I was equipped for. But I kept at it and kept reading and learning and taking courses to develop and strengthen my skillset as a businessperson.
I also tried lots of different ways of working with clients to find what I liked best. Currently, I run my private practice seeing one-on-one clients out of an integrative medical center here in Los Angeles. I also serve as the nutrition therapy practitioner for the facility (I’m independently contracted there), and work alongside two MDs who consistently send their patients my way. But prior to my current setup, I’ve operated my practice as a telepractice/virtual practice (over the phone and Skype), conducted group programs, delivered guided online courses and programs, been paid to speak via sponsorships, and conducted challenges through Crossfit gyms. Those struggles I had in my first few years were what ultimately led me to create the Holistic Entrepreneur Association for my fellow practitioners, so in retrospect, I’m very grateful for all of those learning experiences.
How do you find clients?
Public speaking has always been my most profitable source of lead generation, and is what I used to grow my practice. I have scaled back quite a bit now that I’m seeing almost more clients and patients from the medical practice than I can comfortably handle, but I’ll still speak at conferences and events occasionally. Word of mouth and referrals are my primary source of clients at this point.
What’s some good business advice you have received?
Don’t charge less than you are worth and don’t be afraid of having money conversations. I think this is something that a lot of us practitioners can struggle with unfortunately, and it’s certainly something I’ve had to work through personally. The work we do in this space is very mission-driven, so it can be easy to be a little diffident about the money factor. But ultimately, in order for us to be able to help as many people as we can, it’s a piece of the puzzle we need to embrace.
What do you do to keep yourself productive?
I am a big productivity junkie, so I’ve tried a lot of different methods and techniques to optimize productivity. A few things that I’ve found most effective for myself:
- Goal defining and setting: big picture, then weekly, then daily. Really defining the bigger goals of what it is I’m trying to accomplish over the long game gives me a sense of direction, focus, and calm. Using those big-picture goals, I write out a plan for what needs to get done at the beginning of each week, and from there I write a daily plan each morning. Using the weekly plan to inform the daily plan helps keep me focused on the bigger picture of what needs to get done so that I don’t lose myself in the weeds.
- Pomodoro technique works pretty well for me. Technically, it’s supposed to be 25 mins working, 5 min break. But I find that an hour or so of uninterrupted work, then a 10 min break before digging into another stretch suits me best. The key is having that dedicated stretch of work, then coming away for a bit, then tackling it again so that you’re not getting tired and distracted and unproductive.
- Limiting email checks is HUGE. When I’m being good about this and keeping to only 2-3 checks a day, my productivity is noticeably improved.
What’s the hardest thing about being a practitioner?
As I mentioned, for me, it was figuring out how to run a business in those first couple of years. I didn’t have the funds to hire people to help me with things like creating a website or bookkeeping, so I learned to do it all myself.
How do you overcome those challenges?
Fortunately (?) I’m a pretty stubborn person in the sense that I was willing to put my head down and do whatever I needed to do to figure out what I needed to figure out. So I stuck with it and eventually found my rhythm as a practitioner and a business owner. My hope is that the resources I provide through the Association will help my fellow practitioners get into their rhythm without quite as many bumps in the beginning.
What are three business tools or resources you couldn’t live without?
- Trello. It’s an online project management tool that allows me to visually document and organize my client sequences and projects. I absolutely LOVE it!
- Evernote. This is another project management tool of sorts, which I use to capture ideas and research data. You basically create virtual “notebooks”, which you can later search through very easily to find, for example, all the notes you’ve collected that contain the word, “microbiome.”
- Canva. This is an online graphic design tool that I use to create pretty much all of my marketing materials (flyers, business cards, handouts, social media posts). It is so easy to use and, amazingly, it’s free!
What’s a book that changed your life when you read it?
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber. It’s a fantastic book on entrepreneurship that every practitioner should read.
Where would you travel if you had an all-expenses paid trip?
Ooh, tough one. I’d probably want to eat my way through the various countries of Europe!
Tell me about a time when you have laughed the hardest!
I grew up in Texas, and when I first moved out to Los Angeles, a friend of a friend invited me onto this reality TV show. It was about a bum who we were helping to get off the streets and get cleaned up, which I was happy to help with. Only it turned out the bum was actually a comedian and the show was about pranking us. The hilarious part about it was that, even during the wrap party, I STILL had no idea I was getting pranked and was still trying to help the “bum” out. It wasn’t until after the show aired on national TV and a bunch of old friends started calling me that I realized what I had fallen for. Haha! Talk about gullible, right?? No wonder everyone was giving me weird looks at that wrap party!
Practitioners can join the Holistic Entrepreneur Association for free at http://www.holisticentrepreneurassociation.com/membership/.