Welcome to our new column, All In, where we sit down with some of the most inspiring people in the wellness industry to find out how they got their start, their successes and their struggles, and their top advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Next up is Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health, a platform for all things natural health including recipes, education and more.
McCarthy talks to us about starting her business, letting go of doing everything herself, and growing her team, business and family at the same time.
Can you recall the first inspiration you had to start your own business?
It wasn’t until I was stuck in a job I hated in a totally different career that I knew there must be more to life than collecting a paycheque from a thankless job. I’ve always been a very ambitious person, so the thought of owning my own business was never something that scared me, and more importantly, I really wanted to help people and make a contribution to the lives of others. I wanted that contribution to be helping them live a happier and healthier life.
I had my own health issues and was transformed by natural health so I knew I had to get this message out to the mainstream. After my first career, I went back to school to study nutrition and when I graduated perhaps it was just ignorance, not having a clue what I was getting myself into, but I jumped in with both feet and have just kept swimming ever since.
What were some of your early challenges?
There were MANY challenges of having my own business in the early days. I found it tough to work at home alone, so I would work in cafes across the city. In fact, I wrote my entire first cookbook, Joyous Health, cafe hopping in Toronto. I spent endless hours writing at R2 and Darkhorse Cafe — it’s a wonder they didn’t ask me to pay rent!
I found it very challenging to keep up with all the administrative stuff, from bookkeeping to invoicing clients. I was terrible at collecting money which is unfortunately NOT the way to grow a business. Fortunately, I now have systems in place that make that process easier. The most obvious challenge, which could have been alleviated if I was better at managing money, was that I often felt broke in the first 18 months. The upside is that going through that taught me the value of a dollar.
Were you also working a full time job when you launched your business (as a side hustle) or did you go full-force into the new business? Would you recommend the approach you took?
I was personal training about 20-25 clients per week when I launched Joyous Health. The day I graduated from nutrition school, I told myself “365 days from today, you will never personal train again.” And that’s exactly what I did. I loved my training clients, but I didn’t like the hours and it was really hard on my body. But, for the first year, being a trainer helped me pay rent and buy groceries.
From what we can tell, you’re the sole founder of your company. Did you make a conscious decision to go into business without a partner? If so, why, and how has the decision to go that route been both rewarding and challenging?
I am the founder of Joyous Health, but as of 2013 my husband, Walker, is my business partner. I was never interested in having a biz partner in the early days, probably because there was no one that was the right fit from 2009 to 2013, but I also wasn’t looking for a business partner. I wanted to do things my way. The first year or so was a bit of an adjustment working with Walker because I was used to doing everything myself, but having him join Joyous Health was the best decision we ever made together.
Walker has unique talents and skills that I just don’t have. My business really launched to a whole new joyous level when Walker joined. Then when we hired our Community Manager Rachel Molenda, things took off even more. I was always nervous about hiring others because I was concerned the business didn’t have enough money to pay others, however, it freed me up to do other things in the business and gave me more freedom to be a mom — my most important job.
What kinds of challenges have you encountered as a female entrepreneur?
None. I feel like I should have a story, but I really don’t have one. My industry is dominated by women, so I’ve never felt challenged by being female.
Did you seek outside investment and if so, how did you go about that process?
In early 2016 we started discussions to bring on a minority partner to help fund the new website, additional hires etc. Turns out 2016 was our best year ever and we really didn’t need the additional funds as we were able to bootstrap the additional costs. We went ahead with the partnership anyway and have received far more value in expertise and mentorship than the actual value of the investment.
What are some challenges you still face today?
Having enough hours in a day is my biggest challenge. I find most days of the week I am working when I put my daughter to bed at night. I don’t mind, because it’s usually something I enjoy doing and when I’ve had enough I just turn off my computer. It’s just the way it is.
In 2017 I decided that I would stop my clinical practice, doing one-on-ones. It was a really tough decision, but the best decision because it gave me more time to do other things in the business that I enjoy more including writing, product development, speaking, traveling for business etc.
Launching – and then running – your own business can be overwhelming. How do you stay focused and on track on a day to day basis? What are some of your top tips?
I get out of the office when I need a break and I don’t run my body to the ground like I did in my last career. I make taking care of myself a priority. Good nutrition is number one. I always make time for healthy meals. Even if the morning is a bit busy with my daughter, I still make a smoothie and slurp it back before we walk her to school.
One of my favourite habits is to recharge is being in nature. If I feel overwhelmed, tired, or stressed, I go for a walk and I also do this daily to prevent feeling that way too. Nature recharges my happiness battery. I love to smell the fresh air and feel the leaves crunch under my feet, and hear the birds chirping. I take natural health supplements like probiotics, fish oil, vitamin D and a few other things daily as well. And I dry skin brush before every bath or shower!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as it relates to running your own business?
Charge what you’re worth and don’t discount your services to please other people. Be consistent. My dad gave me that advice. He too, was an entrepreneur for many years so I really value his advice.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to a woman interested in going out on her own?
Just DO IT. And this isn’t a nike commercial haha! I know that seems pretty simple, but sometimes all people need is a little push. Of course ideally you have a business plan, a marketing strategy etc. But if money is the only thing holding you back, you’ve gotta take a risk. No one sits on their deathbed in their 90’s thinking, “damn I wish I took LESS risks.”
I would highly recommend that every woman check out my business program because it will set you up for success. My team and I put this program together to help budding wellness entrepreneurs take their passion and grow it into a thriving business, and for those with established businesses to take their business to the next level.
About Joyous Health:
You run a multi-faceted business including a blog, newsletter, business program and green beauty products, just to name a few. Oh and you’re also a published author. Has the expansion of your business been organic as you’ve grown or did you launch all these elements at once?
It’s definitely been organic. I first launched my blog in 2009, alongside my newsletter and started cultivating an online community through social media slowly. Then my products and books followed and now more recently the Joyous Health Business Program.
I would never have two books if it wasn’t for having a my blog and social media presence. Those helped me elevate my brand. The products were something I’ve always wanted to do because I use all green beauty products. The Joyous Health community was always asking for my opinion on what to use for moisturizer, so it was a natural progression to develop my own products. I use my own toothpaste, deodorant, and “Smooth Like Butta” body butter every single day. I would never create a product that I wouldn’t actually use on myself.
I also have two organic wellness teas blended by a local producer in Toronto and my good friend, The Honest Leaf. We are really committed to growing the JOYOUS SHOP and this spring we will be launching an organic shampoo and conditioner, as well as stationary (pens and journals). I’m really excited about those!
We love that you’re spreading your knowledge through your business program for wellness entrepreneurs. Tell us a bit about the program and why you decided to share your expertise in this way?
Just like I became a nutritionist to help other people, we developed this program to help others become successful. I made hundreds of mistakes in my business journey that I don’t want others to make. We ran the first Joyous Health Business Program in the fall of 2017 with 150 grads. It’s incredibly rewarding to see what they’ve accomplished thus far from growing their newsletter list, to cultivating a broader social community, and making more money by learning to charge their value.
The Joyous Health Business Program is an online six-week program to get wellness entrepreneurs real-world ready. There are over 60 videos that are strategically organized to help wellnesspreneurs from A to Z. Each module has a detailed and comprehensive handbook where you take all your knowledge and actually apply it to your business. The nice thing is that you can do it at your own pace and you have the support of our Facebook community and we do weekly Facebook LIVES for the duration of the program.
It should be mentioned that you do all of this while parenting a toddler. Please tell us your secrets! How do you juggle being a mom and a business owner?
I feel like I have two babies — my biz and my toddler. I have a really awesome partner in my husband Walker. I couldn’t do it without him. We definitely co-parent and this prevents me from being overwhelmed. Being a mom is THE BEST!!