The Lead Generation features conversations with today’s entrepreneurs willing to tell the truth about what it takes to be your own boss and the transformative impact you can have on your audience.
In this episode, we’re bringing you Maria Dominguez-Courian to discover the lessons she's learned growing her nutrition business for women.
Maria is the holistic nutritionist behind Vitalia Nutrition. Her coaching and courses support women who want to reboot their metabolism and re-balance their lives through food. Her Healthy Bride Method is used by wedding planning women who want less stress and more energy leading up to their big day.
In this episode, Maria shares what motivated her to start her own business, how she narrowed her niche to brides-to-be, and where she turns for inspiration and support.
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If you’re short on time, here are a few golden nuggets from our conversation and the resources mentioned.
- Self-care is important. Taking care of your mind, body, and mentality can help you achieve so much more if you’re willing to take care of yourself first.
- Find your niche and work hard at what you love – then it won’t seem like work.
- Surround yourself with people who will motivate and encourage you when you’re down. It never hurts to have a cheerleader on the sidelines rooting for you!
- Find the tools that work well for your business and get to know them well. Simple, easy to use tools will make you enjoy your job a lot more and keep your frustrations at bay.
Continue the conversation
After enjoying this episode, what are your top takeaways from Maria?
And what's one lesson you learned in this episode that you'll take action on over the next week?
Get to know Maria
Bob: Maria, welcome to this episode of the Lead Generation. Great to have you.
Maria: Thank you, Bob. Thanks for having me over.
Bob: Before we get into things, I would love to know how are the lives of your customers transformed by what your company does?
Maria: The main thing I teach my clients to put themselves first. So as you can see, I target most women and we tend to leave everything before us, right? So, we hit a point where we're so stressed and we're not taking care of ourselves and all that. That's where I jump in because in order for everything to work fine, you need to be good. I would say that's the main thing. More than nutrition. It's the balancing of the mind and body that actually changes their lives.
Bob: That's great. And it seems like self-care is just a really important thing for the people that you're serving.
Maria: Yes, definitely. Definitely. I'm always telling people. If you go on my Instagram or my Facebook group, I'm always like, "Guys, self-care, self-care. Someday, at least give yourself, a few minutes for yourself." Yes. So, definitely.
Bob: Excellent. So, tell us a little bit about how you got started within the self-care and wellness industry because I'm always fascinated by how people find their way into an entrepreneurial journey.
Maria: Yes. Well, I started it because first of all, I love food. Definitely. So, growing up I noticed I wasn't eating the best because I had no idea. I was just eating what my parents were feeding me. And I started having a lot of migraines. I started changing a lot of things, but nothing was really working. I started going to doctors, nothing worked until I actually want to a nutritionist.
She told me, "Hey, your diet is not the best. You should stop eating this and that and blah, blah, blah." So, I realize how much better I started feeling once I started switching all the bad habits I'd had before. So I was like, "Oh, this is what I like. So, I look good. Now, I want to learn how to eat so I can feel better and I want to show people that you can eat everything you want as long as you know how to," right? So, that's how I actually got started and I love it.
Ditching the day job for your own business
Bob: Why did you decide to turn into a business as opposed to just sort of giving advice on occasion and having some other kind of day job?
“So I was like, okay, screw this. I'm young, I just graduated. So, I'm going to start figuring out things on my own. And that's how I started.”
Maria: I've always had that entrepreneur in me. So, as soon as I graduated, I started working with two nutritionists where I learned a lot. But I noticed if I wanted to take more time off or I wanted to do other things, I wasn't able to be. So, I always had to ask for permission. There were things that I wanted to do and I that I knew that there were going to help our clients, but they weren't letting me.
So I was like, okay, screw this. I'm young, I just graduated. So, I'm going to start figuring out things on my own. That's how I started. I actually started here in Mexico first. I opened my own office and I started getting clients because I had already been working with them. So, I started getting more traction, let's say. But then I met my husband, who is Canadian, and that's when I moved to Canada.
So, I had to start all over again. So in there, I was like, "Okay, nobody's going to hire a Mexican girl that just came over, blah, blah, blah." So I was like, okay, let's try. Let's go and start a business. And so, I did.
Bob: That's amazing. And where in Canada do you call home?
Maria: In Ontario. So, I'm closer to Niagara Falls, but kind of in-between Toronto and the Falls.
Bob: Excellent. And you are obviously from Mexico, you mentioned. Do you do your business in both English and Spanish?
Maria: It's mostly in English actually because right now, my life is English 99% of the time, but I do have some Mexican clients. So when I get on the call, all my content is in English, but when I get on a call with them, then I can do Spanish. For me, it's funny because even though Spanish is my main language, it's easier for me to explain my business in English.
Bob: I'm always curious about people who have a really strong bilingual talent. How do they decide whether or not they want to focus on their mother tongue or on the new language that they pick up? Anything that made a decision for you, other than just that's life now in Canada?
Maria: Yes, because I think with English since my business is mainly online, I can target more places versus just Spanish. I know I can do all the South American maybe, but I don't know. I feel like English is more universal. And whenever I write my blogs, you're going to call me crazy I think, but I get inspired more if I do it in English verses in Spanish.
Spanish is more formal, so you have some technical systems and it's kind of for more of boring writing versus if we do it in English so I can speak to my audience the way I would speak to a friend.
Solutions from challenges
Bob: Love it. So, life isn't always perfect when a business gets growing up, right? There's an often mistakes and hurdles and obstacles and things like that. Can you share with us a mistake that you might've made along the way that proved to be really helpful? Might've been really tough at the time, but proved to be very helpful in the long term?
Maria: Yes. Well, the first mistake I ever made, I spent a lot of money on print marketing because when I first started, I didn't start as an online business. I decided to rent the space and I was this nutritionist that came out from nowhere opens an office. And clearly, that didn't work, but that's exactly what pushed me to seek other options. To come to see their online business industry and to focus on social media marketing.
Put a bit of focus on Instagram
Bob: And it seems like you're doing that really well. I haven't been in your target demo I would say, but looking at the Lead Pages that you've made, looking at your Instagram and so forth, you're doing a really good job of using the visual medium of, especially Instagram, to push your business forward. How did you decide to use Instagram as a major channel for your marketing?
Maria: I don't know. Like, one day, I opened an account. And if you scroll all the way down to my Instagram, you're going to see that my posts were so random and I was like, "Oh, today I made a smoothie bowl." I'm going to take a photo and upload it. I don't know. And I saw that people were liking them. So, I'm like, "Okay, let's, let's start using more Instagram." Because in the beginning, I didn't even know how to use it. There were no hashtags whatsoever and I was like, "Okay, this is working."
Last year when their Instagram story started getting more popular, I started noticing that people were liking that. They were liking by showing your real life. What you do on a daily basis. That you're not just a person that has a business until she wants to do but actually doesn't follow it.
I like it because Instagram is more personal and you show what you do every day. That’s why I picked Instagram in the end.
Towel throwing is not an option
Bob: As I mentioned before, and you shared, sometimes growing a business can be challenging, can be difficult. When things do get hard, what do you do? What kinds of things are you going when challenges come up?
Maria: You know what, that's the point. I love challenges. If something gets in front of me and I'm like, "Okay, this cannot weigh over me." So, I will do anything possible to jump that obstacle. And also, my husband is really good support. So, whenever I'm like, "Okay, let's just throw the towel, I cannot do this anymore." He's like, "No. You're doing amazing. You keep going." And maybe some pep talk and some yoga, and then it was, "Hey, yeah. Let's go." And that's how I try.
Bob: I love that you brought up your husband has a champion of what you're doing. Is there anybody else that really stands in your corner that you've turned to as a cheerleader that has helped you keep motivated?
Maria: Oh yeah, definitely. There's this girl, which I actually did my co-op with. She's amazing, and I'm working with her and we're like throwing ideas, bouncing ideas back at each other and she's like a cheerleader. She was like, "Maybe, I was thinking you can do this and that." And I don't know. I just love her. Her name's Alyssa.
Bob: Excellent. Well, tell her thanks for encouraging you.
Maria: Yeah, she's amazing.
Perfection is the enemy of progress
Bob: You've been doing your business for a few years now, and you've had the opportunity to go through some experiences. If you had a time machine and you could go back to your earlier self, what kind of advice might you give yourself at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey now that you know a few things?
Maria: Okay, the first one, start right away as an online business. It's not going to be easy but starts right away with that. And again, I would say my biggest mistake was in printed marketing. Just never spend money on that.
“Let's face it. People don't want to see perfect. They want to see you.”
Another thing, it's important I think to mention, is do not try to be perfect. Because I'm a complete perfectionist and I was not releasing my content until it looked pretty. Until it was exactly what I wanted, but sometimes, that makes you lose a little bit of traction. Right?
Because let's face it. People don't want to see perfect. They want to see you, and obviously, you have to make it a little nice to call attention, but it's just like don't try to compare yourselves to anybody else that you see in the business that has been in the business longer, and that has like way better graphics than you. So, just be yourself. Try to do your best and don’t kill yourself if you're not in love with it.
Bob: Maria, I'd love to know, how do you feel about marketing? Is this a word that has been something that you had to struggle to come up with a good relationship with or have you always had this sense like marketing and selling is just in your blood-
Maria: Oh, no.
Bob: And what's that been like for you?
Maria: Definitely not in my blood. I don't know if I'm a good salesperson, I don't like being bad. So, it's definitely, obviously if you have a business, you want to sell your products. So, that's something I have had to work on. Regarding marketing, at the beginning, I have no idea. I was just like, "Okay, yeah. Marketing is like a flyer and marketing is like that."
I've slowly grown to know more. I've taken a couple of workshops for marketing. I know it's just so extensive that I could never ever hit the professional world. I just like it now. You know what? It's a test and a trial and error thing. So, I love playing with that and I'm like, "Okay. Right now, I'm only to a challenge. Let's see how these challenges work. I'm gonna do this, I'm going to do that."
From that marketing, see what's working. Then, get that one, and then get rid of that. So, that's kind of actually being entertaining. It's been stressful too, but I'm just liking it now, I would say.
Bob: Along the way, have you learned from a key mentor or a coach who's helped you out along the way?
Maria: Yes. I definitely would say, Alyssa. Again, she's definitely set me on the right path for marketing, and every time I'm coming to with something you're like, "How do I doing here? Like, can you please-" It's just like, "Yeah, yeah. Just don't worry. You can do this and that." So, she's just definitely been my main mentor on this journey.
Pick your audience
Bob: Along the way of your journey, you've been marketing more and more online. You have your website, you've also been using Leadpages for a little bit. How has the Leadpages platform helped you in your marketing? How are you using it?
Maria: I pretty much do everything in Leadpages. I have my sales pages from there. If I have a new opt-in, I'd definitely use the Leadbox (pop-up form), a Lead Page to direct people to get the information and say, "Oh, okay. Yeah, that's definitely something I need. So I go on it."
Honestly, Leadpages is my life. I don't see myself ever going away from it. And at the beginning, when Alyssa told me to download it, and I'm like, "Really? Do I have to spend this much on this?" She's like, "You're going to love it. It's going to be your life." I definitely feel like it is my life. I do everything there. So, that's how I use it.
Bob: One of the things that caught my eye from what you do is you have your wellness business, but you have this healthy bride method landing page that I saw because that was the Lead Page I was first introduced to you. So, how did you decide to target the specific niche of brides who are wanting to be healthy and fit? I'm assuming pre-wedding, during their wedding, maybe even after, but how did that come about for you?
Maria: Well, it first came because when I first started the business I was trying to target everybody. Because again, I didn't know anything about marketing. I didn't know that you actually need to pick a niche in order to stand out, especially on the internet. So, it came to me because I got married way before all of my friends. But I saw how they were struggling with that. Right? Like it was not just they wanted to look good and they wanted to be fit.
A lot of them told me, "I just want this to be over." So I'm like, "Why? This is one of the most important times in your life. You should be enjoying it." So, that's when I put, I'm like, "I definitely need to help these girls figure things out, call down their stress, and also have the glowing bride everybody wants to be. Right? But in order to be glowing, you have to fix a lot of stuff before that. So, that's how I came with my niche.
Bob: I think this is really important. A lot of people who are either growing their business right now are thinking of stepping away from their 9-5 and doing a side hustle that will develop their own business. They are being told to start a niche, start a niche, start a niche. But a lot of times, you don't really know what that's going to be. So, do you have any advice for them of being too specific at first or trying to figure that out along the way?
Maria: I would say they have, let's say three main options. Focus on that one they see themselves doing the next two years. And I would say you never just lock into your niche. Once you have an audience for whatever you pick, then you can expand and then do the two and three options you had. Right? What I would say at the beginning, I didn't find it important to have a niche, but once I did, it made a big, big difference.
Business from the road
Bob: You mentioned earlier that you're in Mexico right now and you're originally from there, but you live in Canada. What's your typical travel like when you're building your business? Are you putting your business on hold? Are you using the laptop lifestyle to get things done, but still enjoy your travel? Tell us a little bit about what that's been like for you.
“I have my strict calendar, I have everything scheduled because if not, I do not function. I try to stick as much as I can to it.”
Maria: Okay, so right now because I'm traveling, I'm visiting family, working the way I work in Canada. I have my strict calendar, I have everything scheduled because if not, I do not function and I tried to stick as much as I can to it. Obviously, there are days that I like something comes up and you're visiting and you're like, "Okay, maybe I can put that on hold."
But no, definitely, I don't leave it because everybody did that before. As an entrepreneur, you think you can travel and have the business at the same time, but you cannot. So here, I focus and have my laptop, and that's what you have to do. And I love it. You know what it doesn't feel like work for me. Late in my day and my guy is like, "Why are you all late and always on your computer?” I love it.
Bob: That's good. Do you have any detractors in your life that you've had to either like just say no to or spend less time with or have you had a lot of support beyond Alyssa and your husband?
Maria: No, I actually have a lot of support. Sometimes people are like, "Okay, I don't understand what she's doing, but let's just let her be." So, yeah. I really don't have these factors. If I was wanting to describe it, I would be one if I didn't have a strict calendar I'd be like, "Oh, well maybe today can go in and cut my hair." I have to be very strict with myself, but other than that, someone outside? No.
Bob: That's good. Not everybody's in that situation. There's quite a few who I'm sure listening right now, who have this chatter both internally, but also externally that they have to overcome. So, I'm glad that you haven't had to deal with that.
Let me Google that for you
Bob: You have learned a lot along the way. You mentioned trial and error. You mentioned having Alyssa as a mentor.
How else do you learn what you need to know to keep your business growing? Like, you're at your stage right now, I'm sure you want to keep growing to the next level. How are you picking up all the new stuff that you need to figure out?
Maria: You know what? Google. Google and YouTube, I get to what's trending right now? Go to YouTube. The Internet is a huge tool. So, I do that and I also see what other people in my field are doing. So, I'm like, "Oh, why is this girl doing this?" And I go and I'm like, "Oh, this is why," and I adapt it to me, maybe, to my business and all that. So, a lot of getting inspiration from other people. I don't want to say copying, but yes, kind of. Because they're far away from you, so you're like, "Okay, if it's working for them, it might work for me." So, pretty much like that.
Bob: Good. Getting some inspiration and putting your spin on it.
Maria: Yes, definitely.
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Bob: My last question I'd love to ask you, Maria, is now that you know what you know, what do you tell people is really a key to success since starting up or growing their business?
“There's a lot of competition so you have to make yourself stand out in one way or the other. So, keep going and I'm sure you can succeed in anything.”
Maria: First of all, never give up. Consistency. And yes, there's been days that are frustrating, that no one's going to even open your blog, but you have to keep going. You have to keep telling people you're there. Because again, there's a lot of competition so you have to make yourself stand out in one way or the other. So, keep going and I'm sure you can succeed in anything.
Bob: Excellent. Well, Maria, thank you so much for being on this episode of the Lead Generation. I know people are going to want to check out what you're doing at vitalianutrition.com. And your Instagram, we'll have that in the show notes. Any last thoughts before we close up?
Maria: Thank you. No. I think I'm good unless you have any other questions.
Bob: Nope, that's it. Hope you have a beautiful day in Mexico during your travels with your family, and thanks so much.
Maria: Thank you.
Ready to take action?
What are your top takeaways from Maria?
And what's one lesson you learned in this episode that you'll take action on over the next week?
Tell us in the comments section below!