small business

Designing healthy beginnings: Interview with Nichi Keuchle

04 03 2014

Nichi Keuchle is the entrepreneurial mum behind MyHealthyBeginning.com – where Nichi’s work gives children the best start in life by nurturing, empowering and supporting their mums through coaching, doula services, childbirth education and nutrition response testing.  She’s on a mission to create wellness one family at a time.  Nichi is the creator of the amazing Cheap Easy Healthy Eating System, a simple at-home programme that shows mums how to feed their families on whole food, organic meals while saving time and grocery money.  It’s safe to say it’s a labour of love for Nichi whose experience spans back to her nannying days in high school…  As well as running her business from Minneapolis, she is busy wife and mum to two daughters.

I’d love for you to tell us a bit about your story.  Why did you choose to start your own business?  What was your motivation?  

If I cut to the chase, what really got me started in the health and wellness field is from developing an ulcer at the age of 16 within 6 months of my mom’s cancer diagnosis.  It was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, working 30 hours a week in the afternoon, evenings and weekends while supporting my dad in caring for my younger siblings at the time.  

My mom was caring for her health, my dad keeping everything afloat and I had to really step it up.  I took myself to the doctor, filled the prescription, felt worse being on Zantac and so I focused on the foods that made my stomach hurt and removed them knowing if I wasn’t down with a bellyache, I could still function.  Very shortly after I had to step down from the high school gymnastics team I was on because of the pain that was left over.  Then I removed more foods.  You have to understand that at the time I wasn’t removing food groups, I just stopped drinking soda, then eating pizza, then eating spaghetti, then eating ground beef, then eating candy, and it just stuck with me.  The more I managed my food intake the more I was able to manage my health, and I knew it seemed like some secret.  

How did you go from the initial business idea to “open for business” – what steps did you take to get started?

I’ve been in business for 16 years, though much of it was quite hobby-like.  It really wasn’t until three years ago that I really got my act together.  Initially I was a nationally certified massage therapist, then, because I’m a lifelong learner, I began to add certifications and courses to keep up with my changing interests.  Not only did that keep me from feeling or getting bored, I was in a constant state of expansion, mostly doing what I loved until I came up with what I wanted to do next!  

Back then I didn’t have a coach, I didn’t have the tools and technology I have now.  It was all word of mouth and was going “fine”.  Three years ago I realised that “fine” wasn’t paying the bills and no longer cut it.

How does this work alongside your role as a mum of two?  With so much on your plate, it would be great to know how you manage “the juggle”.

I really batch my time and believe me, we have our moments.  Just the other day our 6 year old mailed me a letter from school, an assignment every child was given to write a letter expressing where they wanted help, telling me it makes her feel badly when I don’t listen to her.  It broke my heart.  We are together all the time outside of her school time, she’s like my sidekick and it made me so aware of the fact that I’m not present!  

The world of possibility in my little babe’s eyes, though, gave us such access to how we can support her needs, how we can feel more listened to as parents and what we created was this concrete agreement to really LOOK at each other when we are being spoken to.  It’s the little things.

My husband is awesome.  He’s super supportive and willing to help with our girls when I need it.  I do a lot of leadership development work so I’m gone an extra night per week and he pulls the weight beautifully.  We’ve gotten to this cool place of my success is his and his is mine – that can be everything from being with our girls to feeding them good food to taking the time we need to put into our businesses.  He’s self employed as well so sometimes this means more flex time as a family and sometimes we go days without seeing him except at bedtime.

For me, self care is my number one priority.  I am a train wreck if I don’t take good care of myself.  It’s an everyday thing for me.  I read, exercise, and focus on nutrition every single day.  Using practices such as Higher Brain Living, acupuncture, homeopathy, and bodywork are really helpful in getting the downtime I need.  Sleep has never been as big for me as in the past couple of years, so that’s become more of a focus as well.

…and don’t get me wrong.  I have my days where success simply means everyone is fed and alive!

What is your vision or goal for the future??

I get to declare it here!  Right now I’m working on a fun project to bring about a kids cooking show.  My nutrition practice is a three days per week so I currently use my other two days as a launch pad for my Cheap Easy Healthy Eating System.  

What 3 tips can you give to mums who want to establish the right diet and eating habits with their young family?

  • If you can find out early on if your kids have food intolerances, you save a lot of time dealing with the immune challenges and issues that come up later.  
  • Find that out first – I don’t mean just allergy testing.  Find someone who tests specifically for sensitivities and intolerances and then plan your eating around the person with the most items needing to be eliminated and build back up from there.  
  • Figure out what you spend most of your grocery budget on and find resources that support you in cutting that down, not what you’re eating so much as what you’re spending.  In my Cheap Easy Healthy Eating System we go over all of this in depth, especially when most families are coming from the SAD (Standard American Diet) which consists of breads, bagels, pasta and little to no variety or colour.  It’s all about baby steps and getting mums to feel confident and empowered about the choices they are making.  A mum’s choices are never bad when they are coming from a place where she’s working with all she knows.  I meet her where she’s at and go from there.  There’s a way to save money and time in nearly every scenario.

What have been (or still are) your biggest challenges/fears re: being a working mum, and how did you overcome them?

My biggest hurdle to date was working with a mentor three years ago who ended up being a fraud.  I ended up with a total loss of $30,000 along with really seeing that our marriage wasn’t working, I had my head buried in the sand, my ego all blown up and was in denial about so much of my life.  It was the scariest time of my life.  My thoughts were everywhere from “how are we going to feed our kids” to “how can I work if we can’t afford childcare?” to figuring out how to answer the kids without lying to them when they asked to go for ice cream or to the bookstore or something that required even a few bucks to make happen.  

Awful, awful, awful.  I already felt guilty for being a working mum when all I wanted was to stay home and raise these babies of mine.  That’s when I started personal/leadership development work.  I got to work on this like it was my job.  Learning about my level of self worth, how I listened to myself and what I made things from my past mean about where I was/wasn’t taking my life-talk about a transforming experience.  It’s ongoing.  I can’t put it down.  

When I look at the number of blocks, mostly around money, that I’ve moved out of the way and relationships I’ve healed, I have no idea where the energy came from to Just. Keep. Going.  There were about nine months in there that I hardly remember, the hurt was just so deep.

What’s really worked is to create our family as a team – to create an intense and intimate partnership with my husband, which didn’t just happen automatically, folks, that was a toughie.  Everywhere I can in my work I bring our girls into my “team”.  When they see “our” work as a purpose and something that brings about change and meaning to people’s lives, they feel proud of what we’re up to and are more willing to give me the time I need to finish a project or be with a client.  I can now be more present with them because there are set ways of being.

What makes your life sparkle?

These days, my marriage.  Those moments when my husband and I are laying on the couch with the girls in their “nests” with the dog on the floor and I’m reading aloud while he dozes and they play with beeswax.  That’s where it’s at these days.  Just so simple.

I also love a good, solid 24-hour work retreat.  People think I’m crazy, but it ranks up there as a total favorite of mine.  I drive about 45 minutes from my house to this little retreat farm, pay my $60 for the stay and a couple of homemade meals, another $60 for a massage.  I settle into my hermitage, open my laptop and tackle whatever project is looming.  I step aside to read for fun or go for a walk or snowshoe, depending upon the season, and go to bed early or lay down for a quick nap if I feel the urge. And, most importantly, I return feeling recharged and renewed with stress off my shoulders because I was able to really be focused and undisturbed.

 

What is the one big challenge you face when it comes to designing healthy-eating plans for your family?  What one thing can you try to change this week?  Check out Nichi’s website for ideas…

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Featured on Design Sponge: How to use an identity change to find success

04 01 2014

Today I’m featured on Design Sponge’s Biz Ladies series talking about how to switch your identity to find success…

In this post I share:

– My geeky childhood fascination with powerhouse women

– Why taking the leap into entrepreneurship is just the first scary leap

– Five tactics to see you through the next big leap

You can read the full post on Design Sponge’s Biz Ladies series HERE

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Featured on: Mumpreneur UK

03 27 2014

I’m excited to feature on Mumpreneur UK where I’m sharing my thoughts on ditching the masculine business plan.

In this post, I share:

– How my desire for freedom influences business basics

– Why a business plan gathers dust

– My tips for writing a business plan with heart/

You can read the full post on Mumpreneur UK HERE

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My one big learning from running a business… so far

02 16 2014

I worked in the corporate world for eleven years.  It was all I’d known of my professional life, except for a short spell of freelancing.  I was part of a team, I was managed, I was a manager.  My working life was shared with people.

Fast-forward to this evening.  I’m sat at my desk in my home office, just me and my laptop and a cup of tea.  Were it not for the company of Jake Bugg playing in the background, you could hear a pin drop.

I like to work this way.  Actually, I LOVE it.  I can spend hours happily ‘in the zone’, as my hubby calls it.  I do my best work this way.  But, it has its pitfalls and there was one biggie holding me back.

This past week I ran my first live webinar, The 4 Secrets of Successful Working Mummies.  I’d had this on my plan since last October – four months ago!! – but I kept putting it off.  It was new and daunting and well out of my comfort zone so it got shunted down the priority list, week after week.  As I mentioned recently, I’ve been working with a business coach and, during my coaching session on the 14th January, I committed to hosting the webinar less than a month later.  And guess what?  I made it happen.  And guess what else?  It wasn’t close to being as nerve-wracking as I thought.  I actually enjoyed it. 

As I treated myself to a bubble bath later that evening, I reflected on how the webinar had gone and asked myself what had stopped me doing it sooner.  The simple answer was fear.  I was worried about what people would think.  I knew my content inside and out.  I was confident that I was sharing great value with people BUT I had no-one to reassure me.  I realised that I missed the input that I would have had if I’d been part of a team.  A senior manager to make suggestions and revisions.  Peers to encourage and motivate.  And the simple truth is I was putting off facing into these fears because I could.

It’s not the first time in my career I’ve done something that pushed my limits.  In fact, it doesn’t compare to some of the fear-inducing situations I’ve faced BUT I couldn’t shy away before.  It was my job, my responsibility and I was accountable.  Bingo!  The light went off: I hadn’t been holding myself accountable.

I looked at the other non-movers on my to-do list and recognised the same pattern.  If something was new territory or a little bit scary, I was avoiding it.  With no senior bod to report to, I was letting myself avoid things.  

Decision time.  I realised I had a choice.  I could scratch the ‘scary’ things from my plans completely OR I could face them head on and see where they lead me, personally and professionally.  If you know me at all, there was no decision to be made… I’m all about overcoming the mental blocks and hurdles to design a life and business that sparkles.  So, watch this space.  In the words of the song, from now on every day I’m hustlin’

Now it’s your turn.  What are you putting off?  I’d love for you to share in the comments below what one thing you’ve been avoiding and why… AND what action you can take to make it happen. 

P.S. Don’t you just LOVE this mug by Ashley Brooke Designs in the picture?  I think I need to treat myself to this little beaut as a daily reminder…

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New mum anxiety: one year on

02 09 2014

Let me give it to you straight.

I’m a lucky girl. I have a beautiful family. I’m doing work that I LOVE. My life is full of special people who support and encourage me. I know I’m blessed.

BUT…

Even with so much to be thankful for, this time last year was a low-point.

I’d quietly been struggling with new mum anxiety since Louis’ birth, unable to share with the happy mums I was meeting, and I’d isolated myself. I was negotiating a part-time return to my pre-maternity corporate role while my confidence was at rock-bottom. I felt removed from the true me. I motored through the routine of my day-to-day and had little interest in doing anything more.

My passion is encouraging women to discover and LIVE their sparkle… yet, my own sparkle was waning.

It turns out I wasn’t alone.

I needed role models. I needed mentors to look up to. I was looking for examples of women who’d made the adjustment into motherhood yet still had an identity that was authentic to them… Their sparkle.

I decided to extend an invitation to women I admired – I asked them to share their secrets, their tips and their honest accounts of the challenges they face.  I was inspired.

I began to share some of these inspiring accounts in my Secrets of my Success series.  And I have other gems lined up for this year.  The more I shared my story with women and, in return, they shared with me, the more I realised that there were common threads. Common challenges. Common worries. Common traits of success.

So I decided to put together a free “class” where I’ll be sharing The 4 Secrets of Successful Working Mummies.

If you’d like to learn the 4 “success sappers” to avoid, as well as the success traits of these women, click HERE to register for your spot.

The details:

Tuesday 11th February @ 7.30pm GMT

RESERVE MY SPOT NOW

 

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Join me for free webinar: The 4 secrets of successful working mummies

02 04 2014

Do you feel like you’re constantly ‘spinning your wheels’?  Are you striving to be the best mummy, employee/entrepreneur, wife/partner, friend and feel like you’re failing at every turn?  Are you struggling to make peace with being a working mummy?

When you’re living with the unpredictable demands of mummy-hood, there’s no such thing as “work/life balance”.  But then feeling frazzled, out of control and guilty isn’t much fun either.

There is another option…

Join me for the live webinar The 4 Secrets of Successful Working Mummies where I’ll be sharing:

  • The 4 sappers of your success and energy!
  • The one big reminder that you’re not on your own
  • The 4 “secrets” that successful women swear by to design a style that fits their work and family

Reserve your place —> HERE

I know how it feels when you’re spending all your time and energy striving for your ideal yet missing the mark.  I know that it can get you down!  I also know that it IS possible to create the working lifestyle you desire so you can work on your terms and nurture your family too.  I’ve been learning the secrets of some really inspirational role models and can’t wait to share their insights with you!

Join me February 11th, 2014 @ 7.30pm GMT —> CLICK HERE

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Stop waiting: a celebration

02 02 2014

Once I’ve got a slimmer waist, a tauter tummy, slimmer thighs, clearer skin, glossier hair… THEN I’ll feel attractive.

Once the house is cleaned, the laundry is washed and ironed, the beds are freshly made and the fridge is fully stocked…. THEN I’ll feel like a domestic goddess.

Once my children are fed a nutritious, home-cooked meal, entertained with creative play, nurtured with quiet interaction, bathed in nasty-free bubbles and settled soundly…. THEN I’ll feel like a good mummy.

Once I’ve got that promotion or secured a new business partnership, been recognised by my peers, increased my income…. THEN I’ll feel like a professional success.

Once I’ve made the perfect romantic gesture, created quality time to talk and listen, shown gratitude for the positives and shown patience with the frustrations… THEN I’ll feel like a good wife/partner.

Once I’ve done a regular 30-minutes cardio three times a week, 20-minutes conditioning, 15-minutes meditation and drunk my daily green juice… THEN I’ll feel healthy.

Once I’ve called my friends and family, recognised birthdays and celebrations with thoughtful gifts and meaningful sentiments, spent quality time with all the important people in my life… THEN I’ll feel like a loving friend/daughter/sister/auntie.

…..

What if you stopped waiting until THEN?

What if you chose right now that you are enough?

How about choosing that you are the perfect version of yourself right now?

You are right where you are meant to be.

This is your story.  Celebrate it.

What happened yesterday has gone.

What will happen tomorrow is yours for the taking.

You are who you are and where you are right now for a reason….

You can choose.

You can choose to feel attractive.

You can choose to recognise all you do to create a nurturing home, be a nurturing mummy, a loving wife, a professional success.

You can choose to BE the you that you want to be right now.

Imagine what that would feel like.

How would you act differently?  What would you choose to do right now?  How would you choose to be with the people around you?  What would be important for you to have in your life?  What wouldn’t be important?

You are doing the very best with what you have. 

My lovely, you are doing a great job – be gentle with yourself.

 

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I feel so guilty… And how to get over it

01 26 2014

A little pre-warning: this isn’t the most upbeat post you’ll have read for a while.  It is somewhat lacking sparkle, so I apologise.  It is, however, me sharing a truthful, from-the-heart account of this week’s mummy juggle…

I write this a little frayed around the edges.  Remember last week I talked about the importance of planning my week?  Well, as they say, ‘the best laid plans oft got astray’.  Louis has been poorly again – I’ve now logged a 3/4-weekly pattern of ‘off weeks’ (which I’ve shared with the GP!) which start a chain of events which go as follows: the sick days themselves, the week-plus of unsettled sleep that follows, a week of ‘normal’ routine and then round we go again.  All three of us are sleep-deprived, short-tempered and fed up.  For me, it comes with another tummy-punch: GUILT.

I feel so guilty…

I feel guilty because I feel I’m missing a trick or doing something wrong which is causing Louis’ immunity to be taking a bit of a battering.

I feel guilty because I am FED UP of surviving on 5-6 hours of broken sleep each night.

I feel guilty because I’m not giving my best during the daylight hours: I’m in survival mode and taking the easy options where I can.  Baby group?  Yes, that’s ready-made entertainment!  TV?  OK, just one more episode of Thomas and Friends while mummy takes a breather!

I feel guilty because this not-so-little pregnant belly is getting nowhere near the TLC it did the first time round.  Rest, relaxation and ideal baby-growing conditions are a pipe dream.

I feel guilty because I’ve done little more with my time this week than “getting through” the routine and then slump in a heap with a book and bed.

I feel guilty because I’ve not much left to be a good wife or friend….

I feel guilty because time is ticking ahead of Baby Two’s arrival and I’ve made very little progress this week.

The irony is, as a friend or a coach, my instinct on hearing this tirade from someone else would be to go into nurturer mode.  I’d listen, I’d ask questions, I’d shed a new light.  But, when it comes to being a friend or coach to myself I’m rrrrr-rubbish!  So, during nap-time today, I decided to get up close and personal with my guilty feelings and wanted to share the steps with you in case you’ve got a dose of the guilts too:

  • Let it all out: Don’t stew on the feelings, it’s a complete waste of energy.  Instead, let them out by writing them down or getting an understanding friend to listen.  Vent and then breathe.  Take a few deep breaths, breathing out the guilty feeling and let the emotion drift away.
  • Look for the clues: What is the guilty feeling really about?  Feeling guilty is usually a distress call from another emotion, such as sadness or anger or frustration.  You might wish you’d done something differently, done more.  For me, when I’ve looked back on the week, the guilt really was showing me that I wish I’d made other choices.  While I can’t change what’s been and gone, I can see that maybe I might do things a little differently next time.
  • Give yourself a break:  So, I wish I’d acted differently BUT I have to remind myself, I’m human.  I’m not a robot.  Putting yourself (at best) second starts to wear a little thin after a while.  Remember to be forgiving of yourself – you’re doing the best you can.
  • Do you want a hug?: What would make you feel better?  How can you give yourself a hug?  Is it a hot bath?  Is it a bar of chocolate?  Is it as simple as an early night?  Or, a night out with a friend?  Find a little thing that makes you feel loved and cared for … and make sure it happens.

Have you had the mummy guilts?  How do you deal with them?  I’d love to hear from you in the Comments below – as would all the other mummies out there!

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Tips to prepare your business for big life adjustments… like a baby!

01 15 2014

In the months leading up to the birth of my son, I read any book, blog or discussion forum that shared insights from other working mums on how to ‘babyproof’ a business.  I still have my scribbled notes and my hopeful and idealistic ‘plan’ of how I might manage the age-old work/family juggle.  Knowing what I know now, when it comes to newborns, the rules are: there aren’t any rules.  Now, with the arrival of Baby Two imminent, I am reminding myself of the lessons I learned the first-time round.  

This week I’m sharing my tips on preparing your business for big life adjustments over on Design Sponge:  click over to read my post here

If you’re preparing to take a break from your business, I’d love to know what steps you’re taking to ‘baby proof’!  Let me know in the Comments below…

 

 

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