How to Start a Nutritionist Business

Kelly Hopper

Kelly Hopper

Kelly is a Chicago-based writer with an educational background in mass communication, digital content marketing, and creative writing. Her 20 years as a business owner and operations consultant provides unique insights through storytelling and brand journalism techniques.

Is right now a good time to begin a new endeavor? Especially one as daunting as starting your own business. Well, if you’re in the field of nutrition, now may be the ideal time.

Close up of young woman getting online medical help and advice during videocall with nutritionist

Current events have brought to light the impact nutrition can have on fighting an illness like Covid-19. People are dialed into their health and well-being like never before. So, whether you’ve always wanted to start your own business or recently find yourself reevaluating your career path, take the opportunity to move forward and help when people need it most.

Learn what steps to take to start a nutrition business, from conception to operation. Then, take the initiative to get your new business off the ground.

Choosing a career in nutrition

After conducting a study of how Americans view their eating habits, the Pew Research Center concluded that “the American public is paying more attention to healthy eating, but not fully embracing what they learn.”

While people might be paying closer attention to what they eat, over half a million Americans still die every year due to a poor diet. The public is crying out for nutritional guidance, and you can lend it to them. Start by deciding what kind of guidance you have to offer.

Gather information

Arming yourself with as much information you can garner will help when selecting the best idea for your new wellness business and prepare you for running that business. Take steps towards opening your practice by doing the following:

  • Network with other nutritionists
  • Read books
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Ask an expert

Consider joining one or more professional groups:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • American Society for Nutrition
  • Nutrition Entrepreneurs DPG
  • National Association for Nutrition Professionals

The American Clinical Board of Nutrition provides specifics on certifications, practice exams, and links to professional associations and organizations.

Begin building the business skills you need now, so you’re not overwhelmed when you launch.

What type of nutritionist are you?

  • Clinical Nutritionists work with the elderly, children, or patients with more serious medical conditions.
  • Public Health Nutritionists work with community organizations and other governmental agencies to help educate people.
  • Management nutritionists take an overseer role by helping to plan meals and assess the needs of schools, hospitals, nursing homes, or prisons.
  • Animal nutritionists work with animals and birds.

Identifying what type of nutritionists you are is essential, but formulating a successful business idea you can grow is key.

Nutritionist business ideas

Nutrition consultants are well versed in how food affects the health and wellbeing of individuals.  As a consultant, you will examine individual distinctions to develop eating plans that promote a healthy weight, good immune response, and a healthy metabolism. Some niches in nutritionist consulting are as followed:

  • Weight management
  • Sports
  • Spa/health club
  • Diet coach
  • Restaurant and food manufacturers

Here are some other niche nutritionist business ideas:

  • Educator: Organize seminars and short courses for people interested in becoming nutritionists or people interested in learning more about healthy eating and living.
  • Food Addiction Rehabilitation: There are millions of people out there who suffer from food addiction.
  • Online Counseling Services: Offer private counseling services to people with eating disorders, food addictions, or anyone who needs help with their health and nutrition.
  • Meal planning: Help people eat healthily over a set period. Target specific clients like bodybuilders, cancer patients, or pregnant women.

Select a business idea that works for you

Individuals are more mindful of what they put in their bodies. Yet, according to Food Insight, the vast majority of consumers say they encounter a lot of conflicting information about what to eat, and over half doubt their food choices.

This is your cue. But in what capacity can you fulfill the needs of consumers? Do you know what those needs are?

Start by identifying a problem

If you don’t have customers with a problem, you don’t have a business. Answer the following questions:

  • Who is my target consumer?
  • What are the problems those in my market face?
  • How do they want this problem to be solved?

The services you offer are worthless if they don’t solve your client’s problem. Looking for the issue first will lead you to solutions, and help you target which services to offer.

Define your point of view

Why are you in the field of nutrition? Don’t think about it for too long or research why others are doing what they’re doing—although this will help later when structuring your point of view within your business model. Just write down the first few things that come to mind.

Your list might be very general:

  • I want to help people
  • I believe in healthy eating
  • I relate to those who struggle

Once you have a broad list, dive into it. Find the specifics that inspire you.

Consider your passion

Sure, you’re passionate about nutrition, but answer the following questions?

  • Why do you want to help people?
  • What personal connection do you have to nutrition?
  • What about working with clients do you enjoy?

Diving deep into why you are doing what you are doing will focus your attention on what you should do, and help tell your story when it comes to branding and social media marketing. If you have a personal connection to what you do for a living, it will speak volumes to your audience.

Start a nutrition blog

Blogging gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It will not only help your business build brand awareness and provide useful content to your target market, but the process might also help you find your niche and discover a working strategy.

A niche will help you concentrate on your strengths,  target the right audience, and stand out amongst your colleagues. Following are some other benefits of starting a nutrition blog:

  • Boost search engine optimization
  • Develop and strengthen customer relationships
  • Establish your business as an industry leader
  • Connect people to your brand
  • Create opportunities for sharing content

Your nutritionist operation

You have a solid idea, you’ve examined your strengths and discovered a niche, and you can express a clear and concise point of view. Now, it’s time to get on with the business of starting a business. Consider the following:

  • Choose a business structure
  • Check your local/state licensing requirements
  • Liability insurance
  • Set-up your financials
  • Figure out logistics

For more information on these processes, read how to get help starting your business.

Set your price

The starting hourly rate you charge clients will depend on several factors: your location, expertise, education/certification, and the services you offer. Remember to account for operating expenses and taxes when calculating your hourly rate.

  • The average salary for a nutritionist in 2019 was around $61,000 per year, the bureaus of labor statistics reported.
  • Nutritionists typically charge between $60 to $250 per hour.

Determine a start-up budget

Provided you’re already established in the field, starting a nutrition business can be done for little money. A computer, a website, and time are all you need to get the ball rolling. Whether you’re capital-poor or looking to start your business on the side, you can begin to slow and simple with just a website and a blog, then implement the rest of the steps as you go.

If you lack credentials or want to add additional ones to your arsenal, some additional costs to consider are:

  • Certified Nutritional Consultant: $400 (exam fee only, several books provided at additional costs)
  • NASM Certified Nutrition Coach: $899 (full program price)
  • Board Certification in Holistic Nutrition: $429 (exam fee only, must meet additional education requirements)

For those prepared for a full launch, consider then add the following expenses:

  • Home-based or rent an office
  • Accountant or accounting software
  • Lawyer or Legalzoom
  • Social media marketing and branding: DIY or management company

Know your value

It’s natural to want to say yes to every new client. New business is crucial, after all, to earning an income. However, be cautious taking on clients outside your wheelhouse or slashing your rates to accommodate new business. You don’t want to find yourself doing things you don’t want to be doing for half the cost you should be doing them for.

Don’t be afraid to say no.

Keeping focused on building a business instead of making money will allow you to keep your brand intact, grow in a direction suited to your strengths, and ultimately increase your revenue stream.

Develop a business plan and strategy

A business plan provides a structure for ideas to initially define your business. In comparison, a strategic plan provides focus, direction, and action to move your company from where you are now to where you want to be in the future.

Business plan basics

A business plan outlines your concept, financial need for starting your nutrition business, expected sales and profitability, and analysis of the target market. It assesses the viability of your idea and is crucial if you need to seek funding. A solid business plan should include:

  • An executive summary
  • Products and services
  • Marketing plan and analysis
  • Financial planning
  • A budget

Checkout A Definitive Checklist for Starting a Business for more specifics on how to build your business plan.

Create a nutritionist business strategy

Business strategies are specific long-term guidelines for achieving business goals. Think of a business strategy as your roadmap. An old trusted friend you can refer back to if or when you get off track.

Outline your initial strategy in your business plan, and as your company grows, you will develop additional strategies.

Fluidity is a necessary part of growth, but your business plan and strategy will serve as a tangible guide as you navigate the waters of running your small business.

Get started on your nutritionist business today

Take your expertise and passion to the next level and join the rank of business owner. Inform, guide, and inspire people to live a healthier, longer life through nutrition. You have the tools you need to get started; now take that momentum and run with it.

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