Movers and Shakers | Claudine Thornhill
Claudine is a Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach and founder of Claudine J Thornhill Nutrition. The company provides nutrition and wellness programs that are focused on supporting women to balance hormones, manage their weight, feel more energised, manage cravings, thrive through stress and create balance and alignment between work, rest and play. Claudine empowers women to make conscious, informed food and lifestyle choices and guides them through practical, sustainable change to take charge of their health and ultimately their lives.
What drove you to start your own business?
As with most things in life, there wasn’t a single event that drove me to start my business. Instead, it was a series of events. Overcoming an autoimmune illness during university got me started on the health and wellness path and I decided to take a course in Nutritional Therapy about 10 years later. After working as a HR professional for a number of years and coming close to burn out, I began to reconsider my career direction and adjusted the balance so that I was more able to follow my passion for health, wellness and nutrition.
In addition, I had a real desire to see more people, particularly women, take better care of themselves through their diets and lifestyles. In many instances women are the catalysts for change, be it in their households, in their workplaces, or amongst their friendship circles, so I wanted to play a part in bringing about that change.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
I am a qualified Human Resources Manager with over 10 years HR experience. I have worked in professional services, financial services technology, media and digital industries. I studied Nutritional Therapy part-time while working full time and transitioned to working part-time in HR and focus on my business around that.
Tell us about the business planning stage.
I did not write a business plan when I started my business. In my case, I was worried about fear and procrastination getting in the way of me starting, so I chose to just go for it instead. I worked on my website before I launched and once that was ready I sent a few texts and WhatsApp messages to a few contacts with a special offer and took things from there.
I also worked with am amazing coach when I started my business. She helped me to move away from some of my perfectionist and over-analytical tendencies and just step out in faith. Not everyone is in a position to do this, but for me, it worked.
In my first year, I worked with a business coaching company that was specifically for Nutritional Therapists and that helped with my marketing, creating programs and packages, pricing and articulating my niche.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
In terms of the number of clients I see and financial targets, I review this about once a quarter. For everything else such as events and collaborations I’m involved in, or resources and programs I want to create, I work on a monthly basis and plan my client work such as scheduling client sessions, checking in with clients, writing nutrition plans on a weekly or fortnightly basis.I
I have a few tactics that help to keep me motivated. I resist the urge to say yes to everything and instead focus more on things that I will really enjoy and can add value to. This also helps me to avoid over-committing myself, especially to myself. It might be an age thing, but I have learned that the hustle harder approach doesn’t work for me and can be demotivating, so my main aim is to work with a sense of ease, even when I have deadlines.
I also read and listen to a lot of motivational and personal development books, I attend professional learning events to get new ideas and insights that will help my clients get better results. Also just working with my clients and seeing their progress is a massive motivating factor.
Can you describe a typical working day?
I have a set morning routine, which includes yoga, exercise and gratitude and helps to set up my day and mindset in the right way.
After that, I’ll check my calendar for meetings, calls or tasks and will set out three things that I want to achieve for the day based on a list that I would have compiled at the beginning of the week. I’ll check and respond to emails in the morning and tend to do social media posts in the morning too. I’ll usually schedule client sessions between 11am and 2pm and will work on any actions from those calls for the rest of the afternoon.
I tend to do the more creative tasks such as creating presentations, designing client handouts and marketing materials in the afternoon too. I’ll attend learning events or do some kind of learning activity about once a week.
I make a point of taking regular breaks, which just means I’ll switch up what I am doing about every 60 – 75 mins. I might wash up, eat, read, take a shower or just sit outside.
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
The most obvious one was winning a Precious Lifestyle Award in 2019. It felt amazing to be recognised and acknowledged by other outstanding women.
Other than this, it was probably my last wellness retreat, called Nourished, Well & Balanced. It was held in a beautiful space, I had sponsors on board who provided goodie bags items for guests and I had involved women who I admired personally and professionally to deliver workshops during the event. The feedback and the general feeling in the room was magical. It was exhausting to organise and because of some setbacks, at times I considered if it was worth continuing, but I was so proud of myself for persevering and overcoming some of my fears and limiting beliefs.
What has been your scariest moment?
My first speaking engagement, which was for Black History Studies in a lecture theatre at University College London.
It was a massive deal to me and the setting, being in front of a lectern, plus all those eyes staring at me was slightly intimidating, but again, I was pleased that I said yes to the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone.
How do you work on making your business grow?
The main question I ask myself when it comes to growth is how can I be of service to more people? How can I make being healthy easier for them? How can I help them win? When I spend time exploring those questions, I come up with things that help to enhance the results for my clients and people who engage with me.
From this, I find that my reach and exposure increase, which leads to more opportunities and ultimately growth. So far my growth has been more organic than strategic, which works for me and the lifestyle I want to create. Having said that, at the beginning of the year I’ll think about the spaces and activities that I want to move into with my business, for example, courses, events, or merchandise and will set annual goals which I’ll review approximately once a quarter.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
The best thing is shaping the direction of the business and what opportunities you get involved in for yourself. Its also great to have a level of flexibility, no day is the same and I wear a few hats, which can be overwhelming at times but it’s also great for someone who likes to experiment and express themselves in a variety of ways.ng or stimulation.
It can also be a little isolating, as most of the time I am working alone and as much as I talk to friends and family about what I’m up to they can’t always share my enthusiasm. To address this, I make a point of staying connected to other women in the sector, which may be a meal, or a hot drink or even just a WhatsApp exchange,
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
My student nutrition student,,Leah Salmon has been an inspiration. She’s a homeschooling mother of 6, author and business owner. We first connected when I volunteered for her while I was studying. Today we take part in some of the same events, but I continue to admire her passion, her dedication to the community and her work ethic.
Myleik Teele, the Founder and Owner of Curlbox has also been another great inspiration. Through her podcast My Taught You, I learned a lot about black women in work and business, specifically about owning your career, building good habits, creating professional relationships, overcoming fear and exercising self-belief.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
Done is better than perfect. That came from my coach and it helped me move forward, take action and overcome my perfectionism which was really rooted in fear.
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill was the book that planted the seed that I can create and live my dream life. It was written in the 1930s and some call it the original self-help book.
The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod, again helped me to look at habits, routine and mindset and how that impacts your outcomes in life.
I also love Black Girl in OM, both the website and the podcast. The aesthetic is so pleasingly coordinated and their content pushes boundaries and starts new conversations and old conversations in new ways.
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
Generally, I find that being creative in various ways helps me to relax and recharge. Music is one of my therapies and I use it to relax and to shift my energy and mental state. I particularly like live music.
Dance is another one and I like to use it to have fun, develop new skills and as a form of exercise. I have great admiration and respect for yoga and try to practice daily, which helps me stay grounded and avoid overwhelm and manage stress throughout the day.
Cooking and being creative in the kitchen is another way I like to relax. Showers and hot Epsom salt baths are my go-to’s to relax and destress. More recently I’ve started to read fiction again for the escapism and the way it helps to stimulate the creative mind. Finally, travel is another love and I have fallen in love with Ghana in the last few months.
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