Sophie Bibbs is a digestive health coach that helps women struggling with IBS and uncomfortable digestive problems to take control of their gut. She works virtually with clients all over the world, so they can take control of their gut from wherever they are. She offers personalized support to work out what's triggering your problems, and feel better, so you can get on with living your life! She has trained with IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Monash, the creators of the low FODMAP diet.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
Sure! I graduated with a degree in business and worked for 8 years in sales, digital media and marketing. I more recently followed a passion and trained in health and nutrition coaching. I combined all these skills to set up my business as a digestive health coach, helping women struggling with IBS and nasty digestive symptoms to feeling more comfortable, in control and confident.
What inspired you to start your business?
I was inspired to start my business by a personal problem, actually! I suffered with IBS for most of my life but, when I moved to Malaysia a few years ago, I caught a parasite infection and my symptoms got much worse. I was given all the tests under the sun and eventually diagnosed with IBS. The doctor wrote ‘low FODMAP diet’ on a bit of paper and sent me on my way. I was so relieved to have a diagnosis but, at the same time, totally lost as to what to do about it.
I didn’t want to give up, so I trained in the low FODMAP diet (not really a diet, but a process for figuring out your IBS trigger foods, founded by Monash University) and took myself through it. I worked out what was triggering my IBS and I felt better! It really did change my life.
As I talked to more and more people with IBS, I found I wasn’t the only one who’d been sent on my way by my doctor after my diagnosis. I felt the urge to pass on my knowledge and help other people in this situation through it, so they didn’t have to feel so alone. So, I trained in health and nutrition and I set up my business.
Where is your business based?
I set my business up in Malaysia, and have recently moved to Chicago. However, I work virtually and see clients online through video call, so have a worldwide client base.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
The first step I took when starting my business was to make a plan. I planned where I wanted to get to in a year’s time and then I broke that plan down into little pieces. Looking at the huge goal of ‘setting up a business’ sounded totally ominous, so I broke it down. By figuring out what I needed to do each month, then each week, then each day, it seemed manageable.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
The most effective way of raising awareness for me has been through blogging and social media. The key for me has been consistency. Ever since I started my business, I’ve made sure that I post every day on social media and I blog every week. Sometimes, I haven’t wanted to do it, but I haven’t missed a week. It’s raised awareness slowly, but it’s been organic and has gradually built up.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge has been not getting disheartened. It’s so easy to feel like you’re working so hard but getting nowhere, and to want to give up. There have been a few times where I’ve felt like I just wanted to have a little cry. I’ll tell you my little trick for getting through this, which might sound totally weird. I’ve got a folder in my phone where I keep photos/screenshots/testimonials from everyone who I’ve helped and who feels better because of my work and my business. When I’m feeling disheartened, I take a look at that. It reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing and inspires me to keep going so I can help more people feel better.
How do you stay focused?
At the start of every week, I write a plan. I write out my 3 big goals for that week and then list out all the tasks I need to do to achieve those 3 goals. Once I’ve listed out all those tasks, I plan when I’m going to do them and block the time out in my diary. I then stick to those commitments just like I would any other.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
This may sound silly, but I focus on being me. There are loads of people out there doing the same thing, but nobody will do it in the same way that you will. I focus on telling my story and talking about the approach I take. Some people will resonate with me, and some people won’t..and that’s OK.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Great client service! I focus on giving every client I have the absolute best experience I can. Obviously, that benefits them as they finish up working with me feeling great, but it benefits me too. They write me a glowing testimonial, that will help me to market myself to new clients, and they talk about me and refer me to their friends, acting as free marketing!
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Keep going and be consistent! There will be days when you feel like you’re doing all the things and getting absolutely nowhere. However, keeping your head up and consistently putting yourself out there, whether it’s with your blog, social media, workshops or calls, will pay off in the long run. Being consistent builds trust with your potential customers and shows them they can count on you, which will make them much more likely to want to work with you.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
App - Evernote. I’ve got it on my phone and laptop, and love it because it lets me record everything so easily. I’ll be out and about listening to a podcast, and hear a great tip, so just jot it into Evernote on my phone. Then, when I get home, I can pull the notes up onto my laptop.
Blog - I’m actually much more of a podcast listener, as I love being able to listen to something when I’m walking or exercising. My favourite podcasts at the moment are Rise by Rachel Hollis and Brand Yourself by Blair Badenhop. They both interview inspiring women who’ve set up their own businesses, and they always leave me feeling empowered and energized.
Book - I’ve just read Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden. A fellow business builder recommended this book to me and it really resonated with me. Rory says in the book ‘success means doing things you don’t want to do,’ which doesn’t sound glamorous but is so true. It was a great reminder for me that building a business isn’t glamorous and you’ve got to put in the hard work, but it’s so worth it.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
Sounds simple, but I love Google docs. It allows me to access my documents from wherever and also to share documents like food diaries and coaching summaries with clients seamlessly.
Who is your business role model? Why?
Rachel Hollis. I have a serious girl crush on her. Why? I just love her attitude and approach to business. She is a firm believer that you can do anything, BUT that you can’t just hope it’ll happen. You have to put your head down and work your ass off for it.
What is your beauty routine? What are some of your favorite products?
I use a natural cleanser every morning, that one of my best friends made for me. I was dubious, but my skin has been amazing since I started. Aside from that, I love Liz Earle skincare as it’s gentle on my sensitive skin. I don’t like to wear loads of makeup, but Bare Minerals is my favourite brand as it looks super natural. I just bought all of my wedding make up from there.
How do you balance work and life?
I am really strict about making sure I have weekends and evenings. I don’t work after 7pm and I don’t work on weekends, and I stick with that. That’s been a hard one to balance as a business owner, as it can be so easy to keep going, especially when you love what you do. So, those rules have really helped me keep the balance I need.
What’s your favorite way to decompress?
I love running! For me it’s a form of mediation. No matter how stressful my day has been, just popping in my headphones and going for a run outside acts as a form of meditation for me and really clears my head. If I’m lacking energy for a run, a walk normally does the trick too.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
Over the next 6 months, I’m opening up more coaching slots, so I can work with more and more clients one on one. I’m also looking at putting together DIY resources for IBS sufferers, so more people can get the help they need.
How can our readers connect with you?
You can check out my website at www.sophiebibbs.com or I’m @sophiebibbs on all forms of social media (although Instagram is my fave).