Q&A with RDN and Entrepreneur Monica Auslander Moreno
Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RDN is the founder of Essence Nutrition, a concierge group nutrition practice in Miami. She sees private clients [both kids and adults], corporate clients, and consults for various local restaurants and businesses with her signature programs she and her team perform both in office and virtually. She is the dietitian for the Miami Marlins, Soho Beach House, and Ocean Reef Resort and Club. http://www.essencenutritionmiami.com
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I’m a registered dietitian who started a private practice when I was 25 that in two years has been, thankfully, rather successful, and is now becoming a group practice and expanding to more digital/corporate pursuits. I’m born and bred in Miami – went to the University of Florida for undergrad and FIU for my Master’s in Dietetics and Nutrition.
What inspired you to start your business?
I felt very confined in a clinical job – I was working in a hospital as an inpatient dietitian. At that point, many of my patients were near the end or suffering from diseases that nutrition could have prevented, so I wanted to inspire folks to prioritize their health BEFORE it landed them on a ventilator with a feeding tube. Being a clinical dietitian is BOSS – you have to be razor sharp, extremely well-trained, medically, and be meticulous in your formula calculations. But I wanted to be more creative, social, and entrepreneurial.
Where is your business based?
Miami (Midtown) – but a lot of our clients do ‘virtual visits’ from all over the state. We also do speaking engagements nationwide. We now have a Spanish-speaking dietitian who can nestle in that niche!
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
Very first step was forming an LLC! (Things you don’t learn how to do in a Master’s of Science..). Then – setting up a bank account, recruiting talent to build our logo, branding, and website, finding a physical space, etc.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Social media and word of mouth from friends/family and then clients who bring other clients. Both avenues bring in very different types of clientele, but we appreciate our diversity in our client pool!
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Not overworking myself. I’m extremely task-oriented and feel the need to do things immediately. The first year, I was working nights, weekends, holidays – no days off! It was a major struggle to find a work-life balance. The financial costs of starting a business were also perilous – you feel like you’re hemorrhaging money. That chipped away day by day on my nerves as well. I had to remind myself that this was a process, a journey and that my only job was to do my best and take care of myself… oh, and make time to see my then boyfriend/ family/friends / feed my dog!
How do you stay focused?
I always remind myself of the end goal – create a dietitian empire! And honestly, it’s harder for me to NOT focus; I can wire in and work for hours straight and realize I haven’t blinked. It’s bizarre.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
We are a team of dietitians, which is pretty unique, we’re young, contemporary, fast, modern (we’re in a shared workspace with dozens of other innovators!) diligent, and don’t provide any ‘gimmicks’ – we rely on evidence-based science and a humanistic/psychosocial approach to food when we counsel. There’s no “Essence Diet”!
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Essentially, keeping it honest and delivering what people NEED – a SUSTAINABLE, relatable plan and human being (dietitian) to transfer the knowledge and thought paradigms they need to do it. So many of our clients are on their 80th diet / cleanse / pill regimen and we are here to put a stop to the food crazy madness! So we market that – that we create honest, workable plans, and not thousand dollar “detoxes” that ultimately fail.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Get a mentor! Sadly, I never really had a private practice mentor so I kind of had to navigate the big bad business world on my own. It would have been so reassuring to have the support of an elder in my niche field. Oh – and try not to work 16 hours every single day because you will become PHYSICALLY ILL (oops!)
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
App – my Healthie app where my clients can log and take pictures of their meals in real time and I can instantly provide feedback. It keeps them accountable and provides me with real data we can then use to discuss in session!
Blog – My adorable dad has kept a blog about his life since 2006. It’s called ‘Dave’s Funny Crap.’ He muses about random topics and his theories on life.
Book – The Harry Potter series. Do you need an explanation?!
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
Virtual visits. We realize that fairly few people these days want to brave Miami traffic/parking to physically come into an office – especially when they have just a 30-minute follow-up. So we rely on a ‘virtual visit’ with HIPAA secure software for over 60% of our client base; you can do a video or phone consult with us from anywhere in the world, essentially! It’s much more convenient, practical, and then we can let our dogs make a cameo.
Who is your business role model? Why?
My dad. He started a law practice with his partner when he was a young attorney. They were hungry for business, fiercely diligent, passionate, and above all – worked with integrity in a field that is certainly not known for ‘playing nice.’ He still managed to make time to be the best dad who has ever lived to my sister and me, provided us with a beautiful life, and inspired an entrepreneurial spirit in me.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
We’ll be launching a branded app for 24/7 contact with clients ‘on demand’ who have questions/need support but don’t want to bother with formal consults. I’ll be working more with Del Monte Fresh as their official dietitian, continue with the Marlins for the 2018 season, and will hopefully cultivate a growing clientele base for my associate dietitians.
How can our readers connect with you?
Instagram - @eatlikemonica. Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/essencenutritionmiami/
Twitter - @feedyouressence