This week we talk to Cyndi and Howard O’Meara, writers of bestseller Changing Habits Changing Lives who have gone on to found food company and online education program, Changing Habits. The couple believe in creating long-lasting health by shifting our attitudes and behaviours away from outdated dietary guidelines and towards researched, contemporary nutrition information and real foods.
ISB: What made you decide to take the leap from writing and researching to becoming entrepreneurs?
CO’M: Customer demand – they wanted to know where to source the foods that I talked about in my book. My husband Howard had joined me by then and he suggested that we make up the salt mix I talk about in one of the chapters of Changing Habits Changing Lives. We sold 400 x 500g packets of Seaweed Salt in one week, that’s when we started to look at all the foods in the book and source the best we could.
ISB: The business is multi-faceted – online store, educational and with a focus on sustainability – tell us briefly how you bring all those elements together.
CO’M: Education is the key, not only for myself but for our customers. Once again it was customer demand to know more than what was in my book and so the Functional Nutrition Academy was born. We are now a registered training organisation offering accredited and non-accredited courses on nutrient-dense food production and nutrition. This education encompasses the food we sell in the Changing Habits Marketplace. The basis of all our education begins with an historical eating perspective and wholism.
ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the business up and running, and how were you able to overcome it?
CO’M: The business began with myself: I did everything. Then time became the challenge, so finding someone who could help was important. Our team are our biggest asset – Changing Habits now employs 25 people, who work in product development and distribution, education and farming.
ISB: How did you go about marketing your holistic ideas in a crowded sector and in the face of an often sceptical public opinion?
HO’M: I believe that it all comes down to passion and having a very, very strong belief that what we were, and are, saying is correct (this has been proved many times over in the past five years regarding margarine and the low-fat diets). It then shifts to developing a large database of clients/customers that literally get out there and spread the word by example. We have seen thousands of miraculous changes over the years in people who had been told that there was no hope for them. We have been around for a long time. We research all of our products and information that we give. We are, above all, qualified, and that builds trust.
ISB: Where do you see your business five years from now?
HO’M: Reaching out more globally with a presence in the USA, UK and China.
ISB: Finally, what was the best piece of advice you have received you could pass on to others with an idea they’d like to turn into a business?
HO’M: First would be passion, however, that on its own is not enough. Start small and make sure you have a market, and don’t commit large sums of time and money until you know that there is a way forward for you and your business. Once that is established, then take small steps at a time and never lose sight of the reason why you started the business in the first place. Make sure that the vision you have serves you and those around you and, on a bigger note, serves mankind to the betterment of everyone. Never get into business for the money only…that will not work.