Ep27: The Business of Nurse Coaching- Catie Harris, PhD, MBA, RN

About Catie Harris

Catie Harris, PhD, MBA, RN is the NursePreneurs Mentor, Owner and CEO of Nursepreneurs.  She has empowered thousands of nurses to monetize their knowledge and skills in business, while inspiring them to change the way healthcare is perceived and delivered.

She strives to undo the perception that nursing care is limited to the hospital setting.  Through her passionate leadership, Catie shows nurses how their nursing knowledge can transcend the hospital system into a profitable business.


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Ep27: The Business of Nurse Coaching- Catie Harris, PhD, MBA, RN Highlights

“There’s a million reasons not to start a business, but you only need one reason, and that is because you want to do it, because you want to make an impact, and because your belief that if you invest in your solution — in yourself — that it will work.”  ~Catie Harris

  • Although Nurses do not generally learn about business concepts in Nursing school, you can easily learn and then apply them into a business you are passionate about
  • Nurses have incredible critical thinking skills which are needed to succeed in business ventures
  • Not all Nurse Coaches want to go into business, but for those that do, The Business of Nurse Coaching course prepares you with a plan to do so
  • It’s imperative to pinpoint the niche you want to work with. Being too much of a generalist makes it confusing for you, and for potential clients
  • To be successful in business and build a foundation, you must know the audience you are serving, what problem you are solving for them and who your competition is
  • Personal discovery and personal development are key to business and human growth
  • There’s lots to learn about business, but you can do it!

The Integrative Nurse Coach Academy

The Business of Nurse Coaching Specialty Program

The Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program



Ep27: The Business of Nurse Coaching- Catie Harris, PhD, MBA, RN Transcript

Nicole Vienneau  00:00

Welcome, everyone, to Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! My name is Nicole Vienneau. I’m a board-certified Integrative Nurse Coach. And I’m also the host of Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! And today it is exciting because we are interviewing Catie Harris, who is the CEO and owner of NursePreneurs.

She’s worked with thousands of Nurses, helping them figure out how to run a business, what’s important to them, all the things you need to know to run a business. So, we are so thrilled to have Catie here, who is knowledgeable and passionate about the work she does. So, welcome, Catie.

Catie Harris  00:40

Thank you so much. I’m really excited to be here.

Nicole Vienneau  00:43

We’re so happy that you’re here. Can’t wait to dive into all the fun discussions we’re going to have. But before we get into what you’re doing today, we’d all love to know a little bit about your history. What brought you into Nursing?

Catie Harris  00:56

Oh, my goodness. So, I’ve been in Nursing for like, oh my God, I want to say 25 years, somewhere around there. So, I came into Nursing right out of high school. It was something that, you know, not too many people know this, but I just… when I was 16, I just had this dream, and I was kind of told to go into Nursing. And it sounds kind of wacky to say that, but that’s exactly what happened.

And the next day, I went downstairs and I told my mom, I’m going to Nursing school. And my parents were both like: no, no, you’re not. So, my dad had these visions of me being kind of like an actuarial scientist, which I still don’t even know what that is. I know it’s something to do with numbers and it sounds incredibly boring. No offense to anybody out there that’s an actuarial scientist.

But I ended up going to the University of Penn. And I… you know, everything about Nursing has always been very exciting to me, there’s always — no matter where you are or what you’re doing — there’s always something else that you can do. And for someone like me, that’s like the most amazing thing.

And I really took that to the nth degree because I went back to school so many times, it’s kind of a family joke. So, you know, I went back for my MBA, and then I went back for Master’s, and then I went for my PhD. And then I got another Master’s and I had to get another Master’s.

So, it was, yeah, it was a little ridiculous. And then on top of that, all the certifications — like I can do this, and I can do that. And so, yeah, Nursing for me has been just very, very exciting because there’s so much potential and so many possibilities of what you can do.

Nicole Vienneau  02:26

I love that. I love how so many of our guests say the same thing. Like, in Nursing, there is so much that we can do. And your background is fascinating. I mean, having a dream that you should become a Nurse and then waking up and just feeling that in your body enough to go down and say, “Hey, Mom, Dad, I’m going to be a Nurse.” I love it. And then, man, your background in education. You said you have three Master’s, and your PhD, and…

Catie Harris  02:55

Three Master’s in Nursing, Master’s in Business, and then my PhD, yeah.

Nicole Vienneau  02:59

Wow, wow. Well, maybe you could be an actuarial scientist! Throw that in there, too.

Catie Harris  03:05

I feel like I single-handedly supported the Nursing schools for one year.

Nicole Vienneau  03:12

Well, that’s so awesome. So, how did you come about NursePreneurs? Like, what’s the story behind that?

Catie Harris  03:20

Yeah, so I will say that as a Nurse practitioner, I was really kind of, you know, I felt like I’d hit a ceiling or I hit where there was nowhere else to go. Because I had worked neurosurgery for years, and I worked in neurosurgery as a Nurse practitioner and, you know, I’m the type of person that I’m kind of in a fog when I get into something new.

But once I get through the fog, and I understand everything, I just… I need to know what’s next and what’s next and what’s next. And the problem was, in that situation, there was nothing that was next. And no matter how many masters I had, or a PhD, my role was still to kind of report in and out with the intern. And it was something I tried to internalize, but it got harder and harder.

And then I ended up having a huge fight with my attending over something ridiculous and stupid. You know, they ended up sending me to, like, anger management classes, and I was suspended and I guess at some level it was good because I sat home for three days and I was like: what the hell is going on? This is not me. Like, you know, I’m so… it’s so hard to get me angry.

But so that was like years of just anger, I guess, building up to that moment over something — it was so stupid, ridiculous, I can’t even remember what it was. It wasn’t like, you know, saving somebody’s life, it was about the heparin protocol or something like that. It was dumb. Anyway, it just gave me that chance to kind of reflect.

You know, here I am with a PhD and four Master’s reporting to the intern, and in anger management classes, and this is not where I want my career to go or end. So, I needed to do something else. And, you know, I’d love to say that I went out and did something amazing, but I kept trudging away at what I was doing.

And then one day I, as an academic — so I did that as well. I had two jobs: the Nurse practitioner and I was working academics. Walmart called me, completely random, and they said we need a Nurse practitioner to lead up our… they had clinics down south.

So, they opened up Nurse practitioner run clinics in Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas, and they needed a head of talent acquisition. And at the time, I had no idea what they were talking about, but I was like: sure, I’d love to! I’ll do it. I’d be more than happy to do it. So, they hired me.

And I figured out what talent acquisition was; it was just recruiting, basically. But I’m sure everybody else knew that, but I didn’t. But yeah, so one of my functions was to go around and meet with Nursing groups, and I went over to, what was it called… GNLI, which was the Nurse Leaders Institute in Geneva with the ICN, and just met the most amazing Nurses.

And I kept thinking, like, why am I still working in the unit, and all these other Nurses are working as consultants to major, you know, places, and they were inventing things, and they were creating paths for themselves, and they just had these really exciting kind of lives.

And, you know, at some level, I was jealous, but more of a level of just really inspired by them and just kind of like: I need to look at what I’m doing again. And so I wanted to start out — because I had spent so much time kind of being invisible in the hospital system, I’m like: oh, I’ll just write a blog, because I can hide behind a blog and, you know, just write stuff and not bother anybody.

So, I started out as a blog, and that just wasn’t enough. I needed to talk to people. So, that’s when I started the podcast. And my focus was really on Nurses who had started businesses, and just starting talking to them, and it built up from there. So, I’ve learned about so many amazing businesses that I’d never heard of before, just like the craziest things that Nurses are doing, and I love it. I absolutely love it.

So, then I’d start going to these mastermind meetings. And during the mastermind meetings, there’d be, I don’t know, and I don’t mean to be dismissive of 20-year-olds, but they’d come in and they’re like: I’m a life coach, or I’m a coach for cancer patients, and they were making tons of money.

And I was just kind of like, this is not… I mean, this is a Nursing space. This is where Nurses belong. Nurses should be teaching people, you know, how to live healthy and do well because this is our strength. And they don’t know just one person with that condition, they’ve had literally tens of thousands of hours working with these people, and tens of thousands of stories that they could kind of wrap up and share with people and really leverage that in a business.

And that was kind of my realization of how important the Nursing expertise is. And, you know, I just wanted to show Nurses how it could be leveraged and turned into a business model.

Nicole Vienneau  08:14

That is an incredible story. I mean, I know many Nurses are feeling like at the beginning, when you were saying, you know, working under an internist and having that cracking point where you just ended up in anger management class, right? And but so many Nurses are at that point of feeling like: oh, so fed up and so discouraged and so, you know, such a loss of joy for their work.

But then you said yes. You said yes to Walmart, and you’re like: I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m going! That then opened up so many opportunities — inspiring opportunities — meeting fellow Nurses who were doing inspirational work, and then that leads you to where you are today: NursePreneurs. Yeah, I mean, your work is incredible. And another step in your journey is working with the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy.

Catie Harris  09:14

Yes. And I’m very, very excited about that because, you know, our program — we put together courses and stuff and I’ve always stayed away from the Nurse Coach one because I felt like that space was very well organized. And you know, there’s so much that goes into it with precepting and, you know, the structure of it.

When I talked to Ronnie and Karen, it was just like: oh my God, this is exactly the perfect kind of match where I can bring in the business. Because not all Nurse Coaches want to go into their own business, just like not all Nurses want to go into business — not all Nurse Coaches — and they can be hired in different ways.

But for the Nurses that are interested in going into business, helping them to put that business together and really kind of think through the elements that will set their business apart. Because there’s, I mean, there’s tons of businesses out there that don’t do well and don’t go anywhere, and I think a lot of it has to do with not setting themselves up and differentiating themselves from what already exists out there.

So, I mean, just to open another coaching practice and go out and try to get clients is going to be way harder than to then if you kind of specialize in something specific and go out and speak the message and talk to people about what their problems are. Because once people believe that you understand their problem, they’ll believe that you have a solution to it.

Nicole Vienneau  10:38

This is so perfect, because as faculty with the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, there are Nurses who do want to start their business. They have no idea how to begin; it is a very overwhelming process. And at the beginning, you feel like: oh, I can coach everybody.

Because you want to get experience, because you love what you’re doing, because you feel like you can really affect everybody. But what you’re saying is that it is better to have more of a streamlined approach and know who it is that you would like to coach.

Catie Harris  11:15

Yeah, and especially like… we had one Nurse in particular who was interested in polycystic ovarian syndrome, to choose that as a niche. And I said, “You can even take this to another level,” right? Like, so, people… women that have PCOS in their teens have way different issues than women who are perimenopausal, right?

Like, the teens are worried about the prom. You don’t have a 50 year old woman worried about going to the prom, she’s got way different issues. So, there’s enough of them in each of those categories that you don’t just have to do PCOS, you do perimenopausal women with PCOS. And then your messaging becomes so tight, that you become the only obvious choice. And I think that’s the most powerful thing that you can do in marketing.

Nicole Vienneau  11:59

So, what other things can our Nurses expect when they sign up with you to take The Business of Nurse Coaching?

Catie Harris  12:01

So, when they sign up for that, so the first three weeks, the first three modules, I spend a lot of time talking about problem audience and competition. And I get a little bit of pushback, and I’m gonna be honest, because everybody wants to, like, set up the business and build their website.

And to me, those things are completely irrelevant, or you can’t even do them until you understand the problem audience and competition. So, it’s a waste of time and money. And I’ve had Nurses come to me, and they’re like: I have this website, I spent thousands of dollars on it. And I’m like: but you don’t even have a business yet. Like, what could your website possibly say?

And not only that, but your website can be designed properly, the right way, if you know exactly who you’re going after. And you have to understand that problem. So, the first thing is really, truly understanding the problem that your audience has, and really pinpointing the audience.

So, if you’re going after PCOS clients, right? And you want to show them how to have a healthy life and live PCOS free, if you will, you know, we can really focus the message on that audience. But you have to know which audience you’re working with and what their main problem is.

And, you know, I’ve had this experience, as well — because I’ve taught doctoral students; I’ve been a dissertation chair for many, many years — and the doctoral students will come in and they do the same thing. They’ll say: oh, you know, I want to… I don’t know, I’ll just give a bogus, like, end hunger or something.

And I’m like: okay, that’s great, and we can spend the rest of your career ending hunger, but we have to take one sliver at a time. We have to start… let’s say we start in Camden, New Jersey here, and let’s start with one piece of section of Camden and find out why these people are, you know, have hunger issues. Like, there’s a lot of stuff that goes in there. And then we take one sliver of that.

And that’s how you start your business. Because, I mean, you can’t be Amazon today. You can be Amazon tomorrow, or you know, someday in the future, just not today. So, we need to take that sliver and get some traction and build up some credibility in what you’re doing. And then you can expand your empire. And then you can be Tony Robbins and Chris Carr and whoever else you want to be.

Nicole Vienneau  14:20

Yeah, so starting small, like really small. When you say sliver, I’m thinking, like, little itty bitty. And it’s so good to focus like that, because it does create the tunnel vision, in a way, at the beginning, which you really, I think, you really need to start — knowing exactly who it is you’re working with and what their problems are. Yeah.

So, when you mentioned competition, what does that look like? What can people expect with that?

Catie Harris  14:48

Yeah, and I’ll tell you, when I first started, I used to get really mad when I saw anybody that was doing anything remotely like me. I’m like: no, they stole my idea. They could have been around 10 years before me, and I’m like: they stole my idea. And you have to really kind of look at that. So, competition will bring out a lot of things in you that you’re just kind of like: I need to address this.

And I’m sure that your students, in particular with coaching, have been through these exercises of, you know, why am I being triggered right now? Why is this going on? The business will absolutely bring that out in you, and you have to be able to deal with it. And if you’re not willing to deal with it, you’re not going to last very long.

So, in terms of competition, it’s really about differentiating what it is that you offer, because there’s always a solution out there. And, you know, if people are… if they’re looking for a solution, still, then it hasn’t been solved, the problem hasn’t been solved. And I think weight loss is a good example of this.

You would think that we would have solved the weight loss issue except for the fact that people are always looking for something new. And we seem to be getting heavier instead of, you know, losing weight. We seem to be gaining weight in those countries. So, there’s clearly still a problem — that the issue hasn’t been solved.

So, there’s still room, so people are spending billions of dollars in this industry. So, you don’t want to shy away from weight loss, but you do have to come to the market with something different. You can’t come and just replicate what Weight Watchers is doing, or what, I don’t know, Casey Duke is doing in New York or whatever.

You have to come up with your own solution and your own kind of philosophy as to why are people still gaining weight? Why are people having issues? And then pick your sliver — maybe it’s, you know, women that are 40. Like, I don’t want a personal trainer or weight loss coach that’s 20 that doesn’t understand what I’m doing.

And, you know, I’m not trying to be ageist, I just… I’ve been with them before, and they make me do burpees till I puke and I can’t stand it. I’m not doing that anymore. You know, it’s just… it’s not happening. So, I want somebody that understands, kind of, where I am in my 40s, and that’s the type of coach that I would want to have for weight loss.

So, I think really pinpointing that audience and what the real problem is. For me, it’s like, no matter how much I don’t eat, I still gain weight, and it’s just like, it’s killing me. So, there’s gotta be something else. So, what else is happening in this perimenopausal period?

As the coach, you have to come up with these ideas and you have your methodology of what it is that you think… you know, how would you take somebody like me and help me to lose weight? Because Weight Watchers isn’t working and burpees aren’t gonna work, either.

Nicole Vienneau  17:28

You’ve given us some really good tips to think about already, and how we can narrow things down, how competition can really trigger some things — negative and positive things — in our lives. So, tell us how the journey then continues in this program: The Business of Nurse Coaching.

Catie Harris  17:47

Right. So, I mean, as soon as you know what the problem audience and what you’re up against — the competition — and how you can be… you only really need to be like 10% better than what’s out there to have a solution that’s viable. So, once you have those in place, then yeah, now we need to get the business name and, you know, set up all the legal stuff and set up your systems so that you’re following income and expenses.

And in the beginning, it’s all expenses, but you will eventually get income coming in. And then you can do the website at that point, as well. So, once you have… and that’s the module I think everybody likes to do, because it’s task oriented, and you feel like you’ve accomplished something. So yes, I can set up my EIN number and buy my domain and set up a website and I completed that.

It’s kind of like in Nursing where you wanted to learn how to put Foleys and IVs in because it made you feel like you could accomplish something. So, it’s the same thing, as opposed to, like, critical thinking in Nursing, which you just realized one day you’re able to do, but you don’t remember the day that you learned how to critically think.

Nicole Vienneau  18:51

I love that.

Catie Harris  18:52

So, and then the rest of that is all about packaging, pricing, and positioning. So, packaging — so, coming up with that solution, like I just said, and creating a methodology around it. And then how do you price something like that, and you know, people have a tendency to want to price things very low, which actually hurts them.

If somebody came up to me and said they could help me lose weight, and it was only gonna cost me 100 bucks, I’d think they were just either lying, or there’s something completely wrong with them. I don’t want to spend 100 bucks to lose weight. I would be prepared to spend a couple thousand to work with a coach that knew what they were doing and I believe them.

And that’s where the positioning comes in — like, how do I know I can believe you? How do I know that you’re capable of helping me? Have you helped other people? You know, it’s not enough just to help yourself, because you could be special, you know, you could be unique.

And those are kind of the objections that people will come up with and just like: well, I mean, you could do it, but you were meant to lose weight. I wasn’t meant to lose weight, you know? So, positioning that with case studies and just showing how your methodology works and how you know it works.

Nicole Vienneau  19:59

Yeah. I love it. So, this course, this Business of Nurse Coaching, is packed — jam packed — with a lot of really important information for our Nurse Coaches to be successful in their Nurse Coaching practice.

Catie Harris  20:13

Yeah, absolutely. And there’s a lot that you’re gonna have to reflect and think about. And I think that’s another thing that I want to really emphasize and it’s something that I’ve learned — had to learn how to do — is just take time where I have nothing going on.

And it’s very, very hard, because Nurses always have three or four jobs and they’re taking care of their family, and then they want to start a business on top of it. And then I tell you you have to stop and just do nothing for an hour and it’s feels like a complete waste of time, but it is like the most important hour of your day — is just to let things percolate in your brain. Go play tennis or something. Just do something other than work.

Nicole Vienneau  20:52

Right. Yes. And Nurses are notorious for that — doing things for other people instead of really taking time for themselves. But it is one thing I love about Nurse Coaching. And what we learned in Nurse Coaching is the importance of self-reflection and self-compassion and self-love and taking time for ourselves so that we can then give back as a better version of our own self.

Catie Harris  21:18

Yeah, absolutely.

Nicole Vienneau  21:19

Yeah. Yeah. Well, let me ask you, if you could give out one or two tidbits for Nurses who are looking at the viability of starting a business, what would that be?

Catie Harris  21:34

Well, I mean, the business itself is pretty straightforward. I never like to use the word easy, but it’s straightforward. You know, you find a problem, you come up with a solution, you sell it. I mean, it’s easy as that. Everything else are obstacles that we put in front of ourselves, such as: well, I can’t price it that high, my audience won’t buy it.

You know, like, there’s a million reasons that we can’t do something and there’s a million reasons not to start a business, but you only need one reason, and that is because you want to do it, because you want to make an impact, and because your belief that if you invest in your solution — in yourself — that it will work.

And to be honest, more than anything, persistence and consistency will make you successful in business. But most people will just give up as soon as they hit the first obstacle where they realize that they, I don’t know… people have to pay them.

There was one Nurse in particular who… she wanted to come up with a solution for cancer patients, but she didn’t want to charge the cancer patients. And I’m like: okay, that’s fine, but one: that’s not a business, and two: we need to find somebody who can pay for it that you’re willing to ask money from.

So, you know, just kind of working through those obstacles.

That wasn’t a business problem that was, you know… it was an obstacle that she had in the way. So, you know, working through those. So, yeah, just being really open to personal development. And I will say that if I had known that the business was going to be all about personal development, I’m not sure I would have started one because I was so anti-personal development for so long. And now I’m like: what’s good for me?

Nicole Vienneau  23:19

Right? Oh, my gosh. Well, you know, you did mention that — the obstacles, and one of our biggest obstacles is ourselves, often.

Catie Harris  23:29

Yeah, always, always. There’s always something. Yeah. I mean, I still throw obstacles in my way. Like, I just had a coaching meeting the other day, and I said something, and the guy is like: yeah, that’s not true. I was like: okay, yeah, now I gotta sit on this one and figure out why I think this is true, and how I can get over it, so I can move on.

Nicole Vienneau  23:48

Continuous development. Continuous personal development. It’s scary. It’s hard. But in order for us to thrive and grow, we have to. Yeah, yeah. Well, in these last few moments, what is on your heart that you would like to share with us?

Catie Harris  24:04

Just that, you know, if this is something, again, that you’re considering, you really have to believe that you can do it. And I’ll be perfectly honest, from my standpoint, we started the business in 2016 — I say “we”; I started the business in 2016 — and it took me a whole year to put the business together because I was, like, petrified of it.  And then I had my first webinar and I made four sales and I was, like, petrified of the clients.


And, you know, it was just one of those things that I was really uncomfortable with it, but I had to keep going through it. And the more you do it, the more comfortable… the more it comes into your comfort zone and the easier it gets. But yeah, I mean, if you want it, you can make it happen, but you’re gonna have to really… it’s something that you do have to work for and it’s something that you just have to believe is possible.

Nicole Vienneau  24:59

Yeah, and I think back to becoming a Nurse and how hard that was.

Catie Harris  25:03


Nicole Vienneau  25:03

And yeah, we all did that. We all did it. We’re all successful there, so we can be successful in other areas, as well.

Catie Harris  25:12

Right. And to that end, I mean, you went to Nursing school to learn the structure of how to do Nursing. You learned a lot on your own and there was a lot of stuff that you had to do yourself. And your experience really created you as a Nurse, but you had to have that foundation. And I think that’s what I wanted for this course — for that to be the foundation.

And, I mean, your success is always going to be your success. Like, you know, I would never claim like: oh, that’s my student, she’s successful because I taught her. No, you’re successful because you took the knowledge that was given to you and the resources that you had and the network that you were able to work with.

Because any… you could put two Nurses in the same situation and one’s gonna thrive and one maybe does nothing. And it’s not the coursework that’s making the difference, it’s the Nurse who really believes that they can do it.

Nicole Vienneau  26:01

Right. Okay, so how can we find this course? I think we can go to inursecoach.com and look for The Business of Nurse Coaching. And, of course, I’m going to share the links. I’m going to share all the information that our Nurses, fellow Nurses, need to know to sign up for the course. And thank you so much, Catie, for being with us this morning.

Catie Harris  26:23

Thank you so much.

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