Why This Entrepreneur Chose to Study Amidst an Established Career

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Who says study must come first?

If you’ve ever wondered why side projects are referred to as ‘hustles’, the to-do list of Sally O’Neil, The Fit Foodie founder, will perfectly explain why.

“Between commercial photography, social media contracts, events, book writing, recipe development, product management, packaging design, finance and more, it can be very difficult to know where my time is best spent at any one time,” UK-born Sally explains. “More and more, I have learnt to outsource the things I don’t have the desire to master myself. It’s important for my sanity, and for the growth of my brand. I struggle handing over the reins to people because I’m a perfectionist, but it’s imperative to keep moving forward.”

With a background in project management in the healthcare sector, Sally was six months into a stint with Medicare when she decided her calling was in “preventative health, rather than curative” and her career path changed forever.

“I had been sharing recipes with my mum back home using an online platform that evolved into a blog – the rest, as they say, is history.”

Sally’s business, which centres on The Fit Foodie, is more than a blog, however – the entrepreneur has managed to add several extensions to her business model including a line of protein ball pre-mixes, a cookbook and carefully cultivated social media profiles that collectively boast an excess of 100,000 people. The thing is, these extensions were kind of accidents.

“I didn’t know how to monetise the blog, so instead I sold clean treats at Bondi Farmers Market,” she explains. “I quickly realised that it wasn’t scalable and the margins on expensive ingredients were too small, so I created Fit Mixes – a protein ball mix that people could make up at home. It had a great shelf-life and could be easily transported and packeted.

“Soon they were stocked in all my local health food stores and I pitched to a top health food distributor. Fit Mixes is now stocked in over 300 stores around Australia and, as of next month, will be sold by Urban Outfitters across America.”

One thing that wasn’t an accident was Sally’s decision to solidify her business by returning to education, despite already having cemented a thriving career for herself.

“I want to have an authoritative voice in nutrition – to be fair to my followers, but also to inform my recipe creation to create more balanced food,” Sally explains of her choice to study a nutritional and dietetic medicine degree at Endeavour College of Natural Health. “I want people to eat delicious food and feel amazing – in essence, that’s my true passion and calling. Everything I do is filtered through that mission. Understanding nutrition is a big part of that, and to be credible in my field, I felt a degree was the right step to take my work to the next level.

“Two of my very good friends in the industry had studied at Endeavour College, and had cultivated amazing careers for themselves after graduating. I knew they had an amazing reputation and quality of teaching. I decided to find out more at the open day, and the staff were incredibly knowledgeable.”

Signing up to a six-year, part-time course in nutrition, Sally’s only trepidation came with the fact that she’d be returning to education as a mature-age student. Luckily, that’s never proved to be a problem.

“I was comforted by the number of people there who were considered to be mature-aged too,” Sally says. “In fact, so many prospective students I spoke to had decided to move back into study after building an established career. Their interests had developed and shifted over time, and they were committing to follow their passion. I was excited to be surrounded by those people.”

From there, her decision was simple and she hasn’t looked back.

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