Interviewee Name: Karen Alison
Online or Offline business: Online
Products and/or Services Offered: 1. Natural remedies, natural healing and EFT Tapping; 2. Natural self-healing of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Can you tell me about your background and where you come from? Did you/do you still have a regular job?
I come from a family of doctors and engineers, so I’m the “mauve sheep” of the family because of my interest in natural health (not exactly a black sheep but seen as a bit of a freak by my science-minded relatives!)
I’ve completed certificates in Touch for Health, Reiki, EFT Tapping and Natural Vision Improvement which pretty much have nothing to do with my university degree in English, but I love learning about natural health techniques and methodologies. I spent several years working in a natural health clinic with clients who had food, chemical and environmental sensitivities.
Frequently, we saw people whose doctors had given up on them (or who had given up on the medical system.) And even though we often had to do a lot of catch-up with these people, by which I mean that they were sometimes set back even farther by conventional treatment, we were usually able to help them. Why? Because the body is designed to heal itself and all we were doing was enabling that process.
I don’t have a “day” job as such, but I do some freelance writing and editing.
What is the name of your business and can you describe what you do and who you do it for?
I have two natural health websites:-
I’m a health educator, writer and coach
My sites are about what I like to call “self-responsible health”, so they’re designed for people who want to take charge of their own well-being and be full participants in solving their chronic health problems.
You’ll notice I’ve twice said “chronic” health problems – because those are largely lifestyle-created and, therefore, you can make conscious choices about them.
Only a tiny percentage of people (less than 5%) actually have genetically-caused health issues. And if you have an acute trauma, like a ruptured appendix, head injury, or anaphylactic shock, please rush to the hospital! (It’s important to be sensible.)
But with chronic health problems, you can’t use drugs to heal your lifestyle habits (well, you can try, but it doesn’t work very well.) In fact, as Franz J. Ingelfinger, MD, the former Editor-in-Chief of the mighty New England Journal of Medicine, pointed out in his final editorial, conventional medicine helps 10 % of patients, HARMS 9%, and does nothing for the remaining 81%.
Why did you start your business?
I’ve always been fascinated by natural health despite my family’s attempts to squelch that interest. It just made sense to me. The more I learned and applied to my own health problems (many of which were iatrogenic – caused by medical treatment), the healthier I became. People began to notice – and after a while, they began to ask me what they could do for their own health issues.
I don’t buy into the model of ageing that believes in degeneration, dementia and pharmaceutical drug addiction
People end up that way because they don’t know how to take care of themselves but you can take control of much of your aging process and reduce your ratio of mortality significantly!!! (Ratio of mortality is the amount of time you spend being in bad shape before you die.)
I also don’t buy into the concept that someone in a white lab coat has all the answers – because they don’t and, when you believe they do, you avoid taking responsibility for your own health.
To be fair to doctors, they cannot solve your lifestyle habits with a pill or surgery! The harsh truth is, there’s no such thing as a magic bullet.
So I wanted to spread information about successful DIY health out into the world, because I believe health is freedom. If you’re healthy, you can do anything.
Where did your idea for No IBS come from?
The No-IBS website started after my colleague, Kathy, and I discovered, to our horror, that conventional medicine believes IBS has “no cause and no cure.” That’s a sentence of lifetime torture for many people. Millions of people are suffering (one in five is the estimate in North America) and there’s no good medical answer because IBS is a “functional” condition that doesn’t fit into the drugs-and-surgery disease model. In fact, some sufferers have told us that their doctor actually dismissed them with, “It’s all in your head.” It’s NOT an imaginary condition!
In our client work with people who had digestive problems, we made some discoveries about the combination of elements you need to successfully self-heal these issues. Even though there’s now plenty of scientific evidence, at the time we started our site, it was not well-recognized that, for many IBS sufferers, the condition is largely trauma-mediated. In fact, it’s a lot like having PTSD.
What that means is that the person has gone through a trauma or series of traumas (physical or emotional) that create a brain pattern that triggers the autonomic nervous system (ANS) to produce symptoms. And the ANS governs your digestive tract. So to get rid of the IBS, you have to change the brain pattern. That’s why your gastroenterologist can’t find anything wrong with your gut when you have a colonoscopy.
Who or what inspired you?
I’ve been inspired by many people, including my amazing Touch for Health teacher, Sherry Oelrichs; our hero, neurologist Dr. Robert Scaer, who was probably the first doctor to make the brain-gut-IBS connection; the extraordinary Gary Craig, who developed EFT Tapping; and the copy writing genius, John Carlton – and, believe me, if you’re planning to have an online business, you’d better learn how to write good copy. John is a great teacher and speaks from vast experience.
I’ve also been inspired by our IBS clients. Some of what they go through is almost unimaginable – you’d weep if you knew.
Just getting through the day can be an enormous challenge for them and it’s incredibly moving to watch them get better.
These people have more guts (no pun intended) than most – and they work hard to improve their health, even if it means doing something new that other people in their lives don’t understand.
It takes courage to do that. And then, of course, they have the last laugh, because, by taking a chance, they change their lives for the better and escape from the nightmare.
That’s one of the joys of working with people on their health – you have the privilege of witnessing some amazing transformations. I never take that for granted.
What training or development did you undertake in order to start your business?
Apart from my training and work experience in natural health, I took courses from some of the top online marketers, writing courses, and live courses locally in different aspects of running a small business.
How much money did you need to start off your business and where did it come from?
For the No IBS site, we provided the money ourselves to pay a web designer to create our site. So that was several thousand dollars. Plus the cost of incorporating.
With the Remedywise.com site, I didn’t want to spend that much money and I wanted to be in control of the site so I could make any changes myself whenever I wanted to without having to be a tech person, so I bought an Solo Build It membership for $299. It’s an incredible value!
How do you make money now with your business?
We sell our own ebooks and an audio course called the No IBS Program on the IBS website – and, of course, we offer personal coaching.
I’m still building Remedywise, so it will be monetized through ads, affiliate links and product.
How did you actually start your business, in 10 steps or less?
Worked with clients – tested our ideas, wrote a site, incorporated, created products, began marketing.
What obstacles did you face when you started your business and how did you overcome them?
We didn’t initially understand how important marketing is. Harv Eker says marketing should be 60% of the time you spend on your business – because it’s the only thing that brings in money. So we’ve really had to work on that side of the business – it’s an ongoing process.
Another big obstacle for me in the beginning was burn-out. When we started our first site, I was working 16 hours a day because we didn’t really know what we were doing, so there was a lot of learning by trial and error. It wasn’t sustainable and it set me back. That’s what I like about the Solo Build It process – everything is explained.
It’s work and it makes sense!
An obstacle we ran into with No IBS is that we were the first to bring out a product that addressed the brain-gut effect in IBS. Now you read about the brain-gut axis all the time, but no one was talking about it then.
Being first in the market is the most difficult place to be, because you have to break open the market. We’re still overcoming that because of the first obstacle I mentioned.
What are some of the things you found most useful in getting your business off the ground and why?
Working on my beliefs about what is possible. Your beliefs – especially the unconscious ones – will inhibit your process and profits more than anything else.
Setting goals for the business. When it’s out there in black and white, your brain starts to look for ways to make it happen. And be specific. If you just say, “I want to make more money,” more could be one penny. If you say, “I want to sell 50 units next month,” that’s specific.
Learning copy writing skills. If you don’t know what you’re doing with copy writing, you’re going to have trouble selling your products. Even if you choose to sell with video or audio sales messages, you still need to know what to include in the script and how to persuade.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking for an idea to start a business?
How would you suggest they go about it?
Choose a topic you love or that interests you (rather than just something you think will sell), because you’re going to be living it, at least for a while. Most of the time, if you are very interested in something, so are other people. And people do notice if you’re enthusiastic and knowledgeable or not.
Think about what needs and wants people have and how your interest can solve a problem for them. All successful businesses solve some kind of problem or provide a service that gives you something you need – like food, or want – like entertainment.
Present all your information from the perspective of the customer who is thinking, “What’s in it for me?” NOT why you think they should buy something or want it!
If you’re going to have an online business, do a lot of research to see whether your interest is something people are paying for. Right from the start, think about your business in terms of how you would set it up if you were planning to eventually sell it for a profit.
And do some research about what is actually involved in having that kind of business to make sure it is something you will want to spend your time on. Look into the nuts and bolts.
For example, if sitting in front of the computer and writing for a few hours a day makes you want to stab yourself to death, don’t start an online business, because you will need to do a lot of writing. Unless you team up with someone who loves to write.
Is there anything else you would like to say that is not covered by the questions above?
Learn as much as possible about marketing. Good marketers can sell a so-so product. But if you can’t market (sell), you won’t even be able to sell the greatest product in the world. And you must make money to have a business.
I know that seems obvious but, especially in the natural health world, there are people who believe making money is not spiritual or is somehow an inferior or unenlightened goal. You need to transform that belief because if you hold onto it, you will end up with an expensive hobby instead of a business.
If you’re interested in health, you need to be aware that there’s considerable misinformation out there. So, if you’re thinking of offering information, make sure it is valid. I see health sites where clearly there has been no research, or a writer just repeats what is on another site, like that silly thing about pineapple juice being 5 times more effective than cough syrup. You’ll see that blooper everywhere on the web and there’s no evidence for it.
Actually, if you go to my Remedywise.com site, you’ll find out what DOES work better than cough syrup and it’s totally natural!
How can people find out more about what you do?