The Well Essentials Turns ONE YEAR OLD: Reflections

The Well Essentials turns ONE YEAR OLD today. While a part of me can't believe that it has already been a year, another part of me feels like I have been at this forever. As hard as owning your own business is...and guys it is so f***ing hard, it also is exactly what I am supposed to be doing, and I have never been more confident of that.

The Well Essentials has grown and pivoted in so many different ways over this past year in ways that I could not be more proud of, and a huge part of that is due to the wonderful community we have here.

I can't thank you all enough for choosing to allow me and my voice into your lives. In a world where we are being bombarded with so much information, and have increasingly busier lives, I appreciate so much when you take the time to read an article I wrote, comment on a social media post I shared, or choose me to be the person you work personally with to support your health and nutrition goals. 

Since I have big plans for The Well Essentials and my consulting practice The Well Company in the future, I wanted to make a tradition of sharing a yearly post detailing out my reflections on the past year, what I learned, some behind the scenes insight, and what I have planned for the future.

I think that it will be a lot of fun for me personally to look back and be able to re-read where I was at each year, and how far I have come, and I know that everyone likes a good behind the scenes post so I hope you all enjoy it as well! This post is totally a long one though so feel free to skip/skim around to the things you are most interested in. 

where the well essentials started

In August 2016 I finally finished up what was four years of graduate school and dietetic internships. My graduate program was rigorous, and I worked so hard to finally achieve my MS in International Food Policy & Nutrition, my MPH in Global Health, and that last piece my Registered Dietitian License. I had (have) lots of student loans, lots of opinions from various people about where I should or shouldn't work, and o ya I was getting married in three weeks.  

So I decided to literally take a break for the first time in four years. I had worked my way through all of my educational programs to pay my living expenses, which meant that I had literally been working 12+ hour days, 7 days a week, for four years. I had pushed myself in ways that I truly didn't know were physically possible, and I was unbelievably exhausted...but I wouldn't change a thing.

 Photo taken right after I passed my dietetic internship exam, making me Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN

Photo taken right after I passed my dietetic internship exam, making me Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN

I thrive in those environments, but I knew that I couldn't keep going at that pace, and I wanted to stop chasing dreams and goals, and start creating them.

I had the degrees, I was about to have the amazing husband, I finally was at a place in my life where I literally LOVED the person I was, so it was time to take a step back and breathe, and let my own intuition lead the way. 

the social-impact driven, passion project vision that started it all

On our honeymoon, Mike and I went back to Southeast Asia (our favorite part of the world) and traveled through five different countries for over a month. We were so in our element, and it allowed me the time I needed to really relax and think really presently about what I wanted my career to look like, what impact I wanted to make, and how I wanted to support my family. 

 Dreaming up my vision for The Well Essentials and the impact I want to leave on this world in Cambodia.

Dreaming up my vision for The Well Essentials and the impact I want to leave on this world in Cambodia.

What kept coming back to me was this connection between food, culture, and global health equity. It was what had driven me in my global health programs, it was what made me want to become a dietitian, heck it was what I always chose to research...the signs were pointing me there all along, I just wasn't in the mindset to listen. 

So one day, when Mike and I were in Cambodia I told him that I just didn't see myself following a traditional career path. I really hadn't yet, so why start now. I knew that my perspective was different and that if I was going to make the biggest impact...I had to work for myself.

I wanted to bring what I had learned to the general population, and in the process start to change the way people viewed the world, their personal impact in it, and the way they connected to their food and the environment. I wanted to help support people in living sustainably healthy lives that supported a healthy body, and environment, and show them that they mattered and that they too could make a difference.

Traveling The World With Your Spouse - Ha Long Bay Vietname

Mike was 100% onboard and told me that he knew all along that this was where I would end up. He had watched the transformation happen in me from the outside, and knew even more confidently than I did at that time that this was what the last ten years of my life had been pushing me towards. 

He also is 100% the reason why I was able to go full-time immediately with The Well Essentials. We had a very stable income coming in from him that paid all of our bills, which I 100% acknowledge allowed me the flexibility I needed to really do some trial and error, without too many financial stressors.

With that said...I obviously had to make money, things were tight in the beginning there, but my point is that I don't want anyone who is starting there own business, but may need to keep their full-time day job, or work a side-hustle on the side, to feel bad about it at all. When you start your own business you have to check your ego, and just do what you have to do to make your vision come to life. 

With that said we had a vision that was so passionate and raw, and while we didn't know exactly where that vision was going to lead, we knew that it was going to make a difference in the world. And that was how The Well Essentials came to be, by focusing on the essential elements that make up a truly happy, sustainably healthy life that supports global health equity.

wonderful moments + successes

There were so many wonderful moments and successes in 2017, some small, some big, but all equally important in helping shape the direction I grew this brand, business, and community. This next year I want to get better at recording the small victories that happen each week, since they can be so impactful to the overall success and vision of a business.

Reflections and lessons on one year in business as a female small business owner

Met some amazing girl-bosses who I now call my friends

I can't believe how many amazing people came into my life this year through my business, and all of them were really helpful in supporting me, and inspiring me through their own businesses to be the best version of myself. This world of owning your own small business can feel very isolating and I know I would not have had the success I did this year without these women.

  • Davida from The Healthy Maven - Meeting Davida finally in person was truly like meeting another soul-sister. We joke that our bi-coastal lives are mirrors of each other. We have so many of the same thoughts and beliefs, and Davida has been really helpful in showing me what success can look like in growing a very passionate community. She works her ass off and I am always so impressed by everything she puts out into the world.
  • Jess from Oh I Design -  Jess and I went on our first blind-coffee-date and the rest is history. This mama is amazing, and I am so lucky to have her right here in Boston. We hit it off immediately, and our talks have helped me so much in believing I am not alone in the struggles of owning a small-business.
  • Lauren from Nutrition Elevated - Lauren, ahhh where was this girl my whole life. I guarantee if we lived in the same city we would be together 24/7. This girl inspires me so much to be an amazing RD and I am so lucky to call her a friend.
  • Katie from Elevate With Katie - Okay I am going to gush a little bit more about Katie below, but I am not kidding when I saw that 1 - 60 minute phone call with Katie made me pivot my business in the late Spring in a way that completely changed my success. She gave me the permission I needed to be different, and pulled my vision and passion that I had had for The Well Essentials all along out from underneath the "keeping up with the jones" stuff I was doing before. 
  • Victoria and Meg from Nourishing Minds Nutrition - I talk to these girls every single day, and at this point I don't even know how I have only known them less than a year. They inspire me every single day to push the boundaries for health/nutrition, and support the integrative healing process that I so believe in. Their full-time private nutrition practice is such an inspiration and I couldn't recommend them enough.
  • Edie from Wellness With Edie - Edie was one of those..."Hi My name is Meg...Hi My name is hungry? duh! googling the nearest whole foods...great now we are spending 72 hours straight together and sharing a hotel bedroom, and talking girl talk, dreams, and philosophical life questions till the wee hours of the morning." Needless to say, I am obsessed with this girl and am so proud of her for starting her own business, and feel very fortunate to have her as a friend. 
 Collaboration With GlobeIn - A inspirational company focused on improving health equity through consumer goods.

Collaboration With GlobeIn - A inspirational company focused on improving health equity through consumer goods.

Worked with some incredible social impact/sustainability driven companies and NGOs

I had no idea what this year was going to have in store for me when it came to the content and consulting work I would do. Thankfully it was better than I could have ever imagined. I was able to collaborate, and work with amazing NGOs, food brands, and health organizations that wanted to work with me specifically for my unique perspective on global health nutrition and sustainability.

The companies I worked with all are working to make a positive impact on the world, and I was very grateful to be able to be apart of the work they were doing, and help them in creating an even bigger social impact.

Was quoted and published in MyDomaine, Forbes, Rodales Organic Life, The Huffington Post, etc.

Inspiration to chase your dreams. Your passions are not random they are your purpose.

I have always loved to write, and seeing my name in some incredibly influential publications that I have admired and read for years was an amazing feeling. If you haven't checked out some of where I have been published and quoted head on over to my press page.

There are lots of health/sustainability topics I have covered outside of what I publish here on The Well Essentials.

Helped heal amazing women through my private nutrition counseling practice

My private practice nutrition clients light up my day. These women are all so amazing, and are capable of so much good in this world. I feel fortunate being able to be the person they turn to for support. Helping to heal their bodies, and help support a positive relationship with food, and their bodies is one of the greatest, most rewarding parts of my job.

Reflections and lessons on one year in business as a female small business owner

With that said, if you are interested in an integrative approach to improving your health and wellbeing, if you want to achieve a better relationship with food and your body, if you want to feel empowered to live your healthiest, happiest life, I would love to work with you.

I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation to anyone who is interested in working with me and would be happy to talk to you about your needs, goals, and how we could work together.

Opened up the conversation around sustainable living, and personal impact

The messages, texts, and emails I received from so many people thanking me for opening their eyes to sustainable living, and the many ways that we can rethink the way we choose to consume and connect with the world around us made me happier than anything. It showed me that my message was being heard, and that the work I was doing was positively impacting the lives of others. It gave me so much drive to keep going and growing. You have no idea how much it means to me when I see you made a recipe of mine, implemented a piece of advice, or just told me that you were listening.

Reflections and lessons on one year in business as a female small business owner

Traveled A lot!

We were all over the place in 2017 and I loved it. While Mike and I have always traveled a lot, it was amazing to be able to do some traveling through my new lens as a business owner. I have big plans to share more of my experiences working in developing nations with you all this upcoming year, and how/why I think travel is such an important part of discovering the person you were meant to be. 

Travel is one of The Well Essential Elements for a reason and I have so many ideas for how I will share my experience and love for travel with you all. Not to mention you guys have made it very clear that you want more travel focused content and I am happy to deliver.

mistakes I made and advice to people looking to start their own business

"Keep the ball in your own court" "Keep your eyes on your own lane" "Put blinders on" "Take your own path" whatever saying you want to use, my biggest piece of advice is to seek the answers internally.

If you have a strong vision, if you are committed, if you are a hard worker YOU can have a successful business, but YOU are the only person who is ever going to make YOUR business successful. 

Reflections of one year in business as a female small business owner

I found that in the first quarter of opening my business I was looking to everyone and anyone for advice. And while some technical advice is helpful, I personally found that there is a lot of information out there directly targeting business owners who are feeling desperate for success. Their are countless course and webinars that you can pay for, for "the key to making 100K", and my personal advice when you are just starting out is to avoid them. 

I found very little of this kind of information to be helpful, and personally think I wasted time and money letting other people who didn't know me, or my business, tell me how to run it. That is ridiculous. 

What I did find helpful though was finding a business mentor who really got me and my business, who really saw The Well Essentials for what it could become and who I could work individually with.

Enter Katie Proctor from Elevate With Katie, who is my brand manager, and a breathe of fresh air for anyone in the health field with a small-business. She is also a registered dietitian with a MBA so she really was able to help me see my potential, recognize my unique vision, and give me the confidence I needed to move forward.

I made a promise to myself this year that the only business mentoring education I will be investing in will be personalized to my business specifically with Katie. She is worth every penny, and I cannot recommend her enough. 

Some other things I learned:

  • Invest in an accountant immediately. They can help get you setup with how you should be registering your business, filing taxes, tracking expenses, etc. and I really really wish I had connected with a great accountant from the beginning of opening my business. 
  • Create a business plan. If you want to have a successful business you need to have a plan. It can change, and should change, but really detailing my vision, goals, and plans for achieving those goals on paper really gave me the clarity I needed to find success year one. 
  • Have a very clear vision, identify the need you are filling, and see your business before you create it. I didn't just decide to start a business and the next day open one. I spent years working in the field, getting educated, training with professionals I idolized, and really figuring out what difference I wanted to make, and what I wanted my business to look like.
  • Commit to working tirelessly, feeling defeated, having inconsistent income sometimes, having people doubt you, etc. Owning your own business is hard, really really hard, so you better love it and be committed to it working. Remember you are the only person that will make your business successful, you have to commit to its success, check your ego at the door, expect to fail, and pivot as necessary. 

but how do you make money?

One of the most common questions I get asked is "but how do you make money" and honestly at first it really took me by surprise. I always thought that we should talk about money more, but to be on the receiving end of friends, family, and strangers asking how I made money, or how much money I was felt a little invasive. 

But then I realized that that feeling is part of the problem. Maybe more people would choose to work for themselves if they knew that they could make a real salary they could live on. Maybe women wouldn't still be being paid less than men if people in the office knew what each other made. Maybe money wouldn't be one of the most stressful topics in relationships, and life in general if people felt more comfortable asking for help around it. 

I also think that in many ways money is the only way that our culture defines success, and while yes money is 100% part of the equation...I mean we need to pay the bills, I actually feel very very veryyyyy fortunate to inherently no be a person who is money driven. And no I don't have my parents paying my bills, a trust fund I'm not disclosing, or a giant inheritance. I am about as normal as normal can get, and have just worked my ass off to create a life that does not need to revolve around money. I also chose a spouse who feels very similarly, which makes the way we communicate about money, and spend money a whole lot easier. 

Reflections and lessons learned after one year of owning a female run small business

As far as money goes, I want to be able to support the kind of life that works for my family and I, but outside of that it is not a giant driving factor in my life. My business is about social-impact, and I personally believe that if I do the best work I can, that is so needed in this world, that the financial stability and security will follow...and it did. 

My financial goal for year one of being in business on my own was to prove that my income was scalable, that I was seeing positive exponential financial growth (that pretty curve going up!), and that I could support our families needs. I decided that a good financial goal ultimately was to see a quarterly average of ~12K by the end of my first year, this I knew would allow me to help support my family and would show me how scaleable I thought my income could be. I made the vast majority of that goal in the last two quarters of this past year, which made up for the growing pains of the first two, and really showed me the scalability of my business.

I was able to achieve all this by:

  • NGO Global Health Support and Strategy Consulting
  • Brand Consulting With Sustainability/Social Impact/Health Driven Companies
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Contract Nutrition Articles For Health/Sustainability Brands
  • Contract Recipe Development + Freelance Photography
  • Sponsored Content on The Well Essentials
  • Sponsored Social Media Content On The Well Essentials
  • Nutrition E-Guides From The Well Essentials Shop
  • Affiliate Income

The top five income streams were where I made 95% of my income last year, and where I really saw the potential for scalability. The other income streams I also saw positive growth as my audience increased. The work I put into those avenues is more for long-term financial goals that will give our family ideally a lot of flexibility.

plans for the future

We have so many plans for The Well Essentials in the future, and how we will grow this business. For this next year, I want to continue to really grow this community, grow my online reach, do more guest speaking on podcasts, and in person workshops where I can connect with my community. You can expect to see lots of content focused on sustainability, and recipes that showcase seasonal eating, and highlight various food cultures I have had the joy of experiencing. 

I also plan to grow the consulting work I am doing with NGOs and will be sharing more of my background in global health with you all here. 

Other than that, I want to just keep empowering and inspiring you all by doing really great work, and let life lead the way.

Congratulations if you are still reading and have made your way to the end of my stream of consciousness. I appreciate you so so much and thank you for helping me support my dream in making the world a better place.