Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mary Virginia Coffman, Founder and Owner of Coffman Integrative Nutrition, located in Atlanta, GA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business is Coffman Integrative Nutrition. I am a clinical integrative nutritionist who looks at healing through a functional lens. Functional medicine looks for the root contributors to poor health and seeks to heal those rather than treat symptoms alone. My work as a nutritionist utilizes food, medical nutrition therapy, and supplements to help the body heal and function well. However, how we function relies on a number of inputs and our physiological responses to them. Our bodies tell the story! Responses to our environments and habits of being, create shifts in our bodies. These shifts are adaptive toward survival but not always toward mental and physical resilience or health. These are the goals of my interventions.

My practice focuses on mental health nutrition, which stands on the pillars of digestive health, neurological/brain health, metabolic balance, thyroid support, and nervous system alignment. Coffman Integrative Nutrition is weight neutral, and Health at Every Size (HAES) aligned. My clients are adults aged 18 and above.

Tell us about yourself

My foot touched this path when I learned that the food my first newborn ate would inform her growing body - and I was all in! Later, I made a connection between inflammation and altered mood and the role food can play in relieving it. As my family and friends encountered various health conditions, I explored every corner of research about interventional alternatives or additions to medication. In mid-life, with grown kids, I earned a Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health, pursued the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) designation, and opened Coffman Integrative Nutrition.

I am motivated daily by three things. First, and most importantly, my clients feel so much better in mind, body, and spirit thanks to our partnership. Second, ever a surprise to this English major and MSW, the science of nutrients, nervous systems communications, digestion, immune function, and cellular health is unendingly fascinating! Finally, in my own tiny way, I am contributing to the redefinition of how to treat mental illness. It's beautiful and humbling.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Gratifyingly, word of mouth is my most effective marketing tool. I have earned the trust of my clients and respect for my expertise from my peers. Social media and networking help, too! As a result, my client base continues to grow without having to spend a lot on PR and marketing. I am living a life of purpose and contributing to the betterment of my clients and community. I work with clients all over the U.S., giving me a lovely sense of the ripple effect.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I can't be alone in this — administrative tasks! I use a fabulous online, HIPAA-compliant EMR program to keep track of my clients and the work we are doing, which really helps. My overhead dropped over the pandemic as I moved into a home office and practiced telehealth. There are a number of details that must be managed daily. I am currently a solo practitioner with no assistant. That is the hardest part for me.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Really enjoy the work you plan to start. Feel a hum of excitement in yourself when you think or talk about the business you envision. Know viscerally that what you have to offer is important and valuable. Want it. This hum will carry you through self-doubt, slow times, and worry.
  2. Network, network, network. Get to know other people who are doing anything similar - or in a similar way - to what you are doing. Join the community. Look out for your peers, support them, and ask for help when needed. Relationships are everything - including your relationship with yourself and the activities and people you love outside the business. We are whole beings, and nature and spirit designed us to thrive in a community.
  3. Always be your authentic self. Be curious. Admit you don't know when you don't, and go find out. Don't choose methods that don't feel good to you simply because they worked for someone else, and don't be shy to duplicate when you like the idea. Listen to your internal voice, and do this work the way you want to do it. There is an art to what you are creating. No two works are ever alike: your art will always be your own.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Starting something new in middle age - in science, no less! - felt daunting, and I'm so, so glad I didn't let that hold me back. I am always inspired to know more, to engage more deeply. My work gives me energy, and I add to my knowledge every day - like weaving a stunning fabric. Best of all, I have gotten to know the coolest people and built amazing relationships in a field I love. I wish this for you, too.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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