Entrepreneurship is never one straight path, with each individual following a unique journey to reach professional aspirations and goals. And at Eat Well Connect, we’re passionate about celebrating and amplifying our members’ inspirational journeys to achieving their goals and meeting the health and nutrition needs of the communities and populations they serve.

We connected with Maree Ferguson, Founder and Director of the global education platform, Dietitian Connection, and Chukwudi Obioma Precious, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) from Nigeria and member of the Choices African Nutrition Community, to hear two unique perspectives on entrepreneurship and learn where they each turn for inspiration on their own entrepreneurial journeys.

What does the term “entrepreneurship” mean to you? And from your perspective, what is unique about entrepreneurship in the field of nutrition and dietetics?

Maree: Entrepreneurship for me means I get to do what I love every day.  Having my own business, Dietitian Connection, allows me to live my passion and be creative in providing solutions to inspire and empower dietitians to realize their dreams. The beauty of nutrition and dietetics, unlike other professions, is that you have so many different entrepreneurship options such as counseling patients, creating your own food product, writing a book, developing a technology platform, working with brands and being in the media.

Precious: Entrepreneurship for me is a process of creating a business by turning ideas into actions. The entrepreneurship journey involves creating a source of wealth as well as meeting the demand of individuals or groups. For the field of nutrition and dietetics, what is unique about entrepreneurship is bringing great value to your clients in the form of better health outcomes and also generating an income at the same time.

Can you share a snapshot of your entrepreneurial background? Where did the idea for your company or the organization you work for originate?

Maree: I had always thought of starting my own business, but I never had the courage to take the big leap. This was mainly because I was afraid of giving up a secure, well-paid job that I enjoyed, in exchange for the unknown — and a high probability of failure. In 2011, I took a few weeks’ holiday, and ticked off one of my bucket-list items: an Alaskan cruise and Rocky Mountaineer train trip, across the most beautiful parts of Canada. The trip gave me much-needed time out to ponder what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The other big driver in this quest to determine my future destiny: at that time, the big 4-0 birthday was approaching quickly.

My trip culminated in attending the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ conference in San Diego, perfectly timed to coincide with the last Alaskan cruise of the season! I love to attend the American dietetics conference every year, as I find the keynote speakers so motivational and inspirational. This year’s speaker was Jack Canfield, best-selling author of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series and “The Success Principles – How to Get from Where You are to Where You Want to Be”. His presentation changed my life. I decided then and there that I was going to start my own business. I didn’t want to reach the end of my life regretting the fact that I never had the courage to realize a dream. I am passionate about dietetics and enjoy nothing more than seeing young dietitians grow and be successful in their chosen niche. Hence, Dietitian Connection was born.

Precious: There is a big niche out there for people who want to venture into entrepreneurship in the field of nutrition and dietetics. In my immediate community of Nigeria, there is a wave of consciousness among people with respect to their health and food choices. While they might be limited in nutrition knowledge, they realize they need to eat healthily. This is where my idea of having a start-up came up: I wanted to bring healthy food choices to individuals, and at the same time, making a profit. I realized this as early as my third year in the university and I started working on it.

What guidance might you share with a nutrition student or current professional who is interested in launching a new venture? Where is the best place to start?

Maree: I would recommend connecting with other entrepreneur dietitians. An easy way to do this is to join the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group. Rather than reinventing the wheel, learn from the successes and failures of those who have gone before you.

Precious: Due to the many challenges in Nigeria and particular to Low-Middle-Income Countries (LMIC), launching and sustaining a business venture can be a bit tough. You will need to be very passionate and consistent about what you are doing. Also, you will need to have integrity. Your clients need to trust that the meals you provide will be beneficial to their health, as promised. I think it’s best to start from somewhere, preferably small. Waiting to have a large capital may demoralize you. There are some funding opportunities around for subject matter experts, although not readily available to all. This is why it is advised to start somewhere small and work on expansion as time goes on.

Do you have any sources of inspiration in the entrepreneurial and business spheres? And can you share any recommended resources for those interested in kicking off their entrepreneurial journey?

Maree: I love reading and listening to podcasts in the entrepreneurial and business world – some of my favorite authors include Seth Godin, Pat Flynn, Tim Ferris, Jack Canfield, Patrick Lencioni; and I love the How I Built This podcast. We also have many resources available on the Dietitian Connection website, including inspiring stories from other entrepreneurial dietitians on our podcast and in our Infuse digital magazine.

Precious: My source of inspiration is my passion, my love for nutrition and promoting optimal health. It began when I was a young student at the university and it has only grown since then. I also love reading books on current trends in nutrition and entrepreneurship. These books motivate me and help me to remain up-to-date and consistent. It is equally important to have a good understanding of the business world as well, as this will drive your thought process while planning to expand your venture.

Maree Ferguson is the Founder and Director of Dietitian Connection (DC), a global community of more than 30,000 dietitians. DC provides FREE continuing education for dietitians including webinars, podcasts, digital magazine, e-newsletter and social media.

Chukwudi Obioma Precious is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) from Nigeria. She has her BSc in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She subsequently completed her clinical training at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Precious is a versatile entrepreneur in the nutrition and dietetics space. She currently runs a start-up that offers two major roles: meeting the rising demand for food by providing catering services and also providing nutrition consulting services that guide consumers to healthy lifestyles. She is passionate about improving the nutrition education of individuals.