"Managing expectations was one of my earliest challenges" with Esther Avant
I caught up with Esther Avant, a certified personal trainer, nutrition, and weight loss coach who has been working in the industry since 2006. She has helped hundreds of women reach happy and healthy weights while still loving their lives. Her focus is on combining exercise, nutrition, mindset shifts, and habit formation to transform her client’s lives. She runs Esther Avant Wellness Coaching remotely and works with clients all over the world. You can find her at www.estheravant.com.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I grew up in a small town where I was able to play on all the sports teams without being much good at them. I discovered working out in high school and loved the fact that it was something good for me that I could do without the pressure of people watching me. From there I got interested in nutrition and totally transformed my body and confidence as a teenage girl. I majored in Exercise Science at Boston University, largely because I wanted to get paid to workout. When I got my first job as a personal trainer post-college, I realized that I was spending so much time watching other people workout that I had little time for it myself! After working in a commercial gym for a while, I realized that in order to help my clients truly succeed at their weight loss goals, I needed a better background in nutrition and psychology, so I invested a lot of time and energy into certifications and knowledge in those areas.
What inspired you to start your business?
I spent about a decade working in a variety of gym settings, including commercial, corporate, private boutique, city recreation center, and more. I really honed my skills, learned a lot about working with clients, and the type of environment I wanted to be in. I also learned that I didn’t want to work for someone else. If I was going to put in time and energy on things, I wanted to do so on projects and programs that I really cared about, not ones that were just dictated for me. I knew I could have a bigger impact if I started my own business.
Where is your business based?
My entire business is online so I can work from anywhere! My husband is in the Navy so one of the primary motivators was being able to have a business that I wouldn’t have to give up every time we moved. We’re currently based in Hawaii but in the next year will be stationed in Washington, DC, and then Germany!
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
At this point, it’s hard to remember what I did in the very beginning. Probably printed off a 50-page blueprint on how to write a business plan that I didn’t need. I was stubborn for a long time and didn’t hire a business coach so a lot of what I spent time doing in the beginning wasn’t very useful. I sort of had the mentality that lots of people own successful businesses so how hard could it be? After a year or two of feeling like I was beating my head against a wall, I finally hired a business coach to help me get out of my own way.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Social media outreach and Facebook advertising have been the best ways that I’ve raised awareness for my business. I’ve invested money in an ads manager to help me maximize my ads budget and I invest a lot of time into engaging personally with ideal clients on Facebook and Instagram.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Managing expectations was one of my earliest challenges. I had the “if I build it, they will come” mentality and that’s just not how it works. I had to change my mindset from expecting overnight riches to understanding that I had to play the long game if I wanted to have a viable business in 10 years.
How do you stay focused?
Staying focused is an ongoing challenge, especially now that I have a baby at home who demands a lot of my time. That said, it’s helped me with time management; if I have 2 hours to get something done, it’ll take 2 hours, but if I only have 20 minutes, I’ll get it done in 20 minutes. I remind myself that I when I’m in work mode, I need to give that & my clients my all and when I’m in Mom mode, I need to give my son my all. No one wins if I get distracted so at this point I just don’t consider any alternative to staying focused.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
I struggled for a long time with trying to figure out how I was different from other people in my industry. I run a personal brand; I am the face of it. I am what differentiates me. I have several peers who I respect and who have similar businesses but we appeal to different clients because of our personalities and the approaches we take. My content and programs resonate with like-minded clients who can relate to my story and outlook. I take a fun and positive approach to helping women reach a healthy & happy weight while still loving their lives. My combination of practical & scientific knowledge, level-headedness, and empathy appeals to clients who are tired of constantly dieting and being miserable.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Facebook ads and organic social media outreach are my marketing strategies, as well as how I build awareness.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
My best advice is to be in it for the long haul. The people whom you think are overnight successes? They’re not. You’re just only seeing the success after years of work. So be ready to put in the work and just keep going, even through the periods when you want to give up. That and to ask for help. Hire a business coach sooner, rather than later. A good one can help compress all the time it would have taken you to figure things out on your own.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
My favorite app is Google Drive. It’s so helpful to have all of my documents available on my phone anytime I want them. I haven’t read a blog in years but in the past I’ve liked recipe blogs. My favorite work-related book is probably The One Thing because it’s been really applicable to work and life in general.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
I invested in a mentorship program called Online Coach Accelerator that was the best investment I’ve made in my business. The curriculum, coaching, and other business owners in the program all contributed to making it a really impactful experience. OCA takes all the noise and streamlines exactly how a business owner should be spending their time to be as productive and successful as possible at sharing their gifts with the world.
Who is your business role model? Why?
My mentor in OCA, Rachel Bell, is probably my top business role model. She’s young, wildly successful, true to herself, and cares about her student’s successes more than just about anyone I know.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
In the next 6 months, my family will be moving 6,000 miles so I’m focusing on my current clients but not taking on any new ones until we get settled in our new home. After that, I’d like to turn my one-on-one coaching program into a group program so that I can impact the lives of many more women at a time.
I’ll also be starting a diploma program in Performance Nutrition to further my education.
How can our readers connect with you?
You can find me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/esther.avant, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/estheravantwellnesscoaching, or on my website at www.estheravant.com. If you’d like to reach out directly, you can do so at email@example.com