Nutritionist Business Idea

Nutrition Business for Personal Trainers, Gym Owners, & other Health Professionals

VeniceNutrition08 8/27/2008

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Business Summary:

Americans Fixated on Food and Nutrition

North Americans have never been so interested in what they eat, what they shouldn’t eat, and what part nutrition plays in maintaining and improving health. A national television programming day is not complete without several nutrition shows and segments on the air; cable television has multiple channels devoted to food and nutrition; and nightly news programs regularly feature stories on food threats, nutrition research, and health stories involving some aspect of food and diet.

Traditional Diet and Nutrition Careers

Becoming a traditionally-certified dietitian and nutritionist in North America requires advanced degrees and ongoing education; certified dietitians and nutritionists working in clinical consulting environments are bound by regulations linked to the American Medical Association and the Food and Drug Administration.

Traditional Nutritionists Can Develop a Private Practice At Home

After completing traditional education and coursework, a nutritionist needs to be licensed by the state in order to practice as a “certified nutritionist.” Many certified nutritionists work for themselves or in partnership with hospitals and doctors. In either case, it is not uncommon for them to see clients in their own homes.

Alternative Health and Nutrition Paths

If you don’t want to take the traditional route of becoming a state-licensed nutritionist--either because of the time and expense involved in traditional education and certifications, or because of your personal health and wellness philosophies--this is a great time for progressing through the faster and less expensive methods of getting an alternative nutrition home-based business started. Today, a big benefit of starting a home-based business around alternative nutrition is that every year, the public is accepting alternative health and nutrition theories more. The alternative health and natural food industry is growing every year; what was once a small niche of the nutrition industry has become its “fastest-growing segment,” according to the January 2008 edition of the Nutrition Business Journal.

Clients Wanting Alternative Nutritional Advice Are Out There

The American Board of Nutritional Consultants’ website reported that in 2006, more than 100 million Americans visited alternative health practitioners, and the number is growing every year. When you start a nutrition consulting business, there will be plenty of customers that want your services, but you first have to find your niche and decide on what type of business you want in the industry.

Many Nutrition Issues, Many Services to Offer

There are numerous areas of services you can offer in your nutrition business. According to the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists, a certified nutritionist is "a health specialist that only devotes their professional activity to food & nutrition science, preventive nutrition, any diseases related to nutrient deficiencies, and the use of nutritional manipulation to improve the response to human diseases." That covers a lot of ground.

As a home-based nutritionist, you may help clients do many things, such as: create individualized plans for healthy weight loss; implement dietary changes to support treatment for health issues; cook innovative, healthy menus; and assist them with a host of other possible activities that will improve their nutritional health and enjoyment.

Multi Level Marketing Businesses

You can start a home-based nutrition business by becoming a part of one of many multi-level marketing companies that carry nutritional and health related products. In the MLM setting, you own your business and will still need to advertise locally and build a client base, but companies such as Shaklee Corporation usually supply training, support, and sales and marketing tools. One benefit is that the public already knows the company name. If you get others to become nutrition business representatives, you will earn residual income from them and those who become representatives under them.

If an MLM framework is not your cup of tea, there are many other ways to set up your business.

Alternative Nutrition Education Courses May Lead the Way

Alternative nutrition trends include ‘natural foods’, raw foods, Eastern nutrition philosophies, and a host of other specialties lumped into the category of Holistic Nutrition. There are many highly recognized and popular physical-campus and online schools offering alternative nutrition education in a wide spectrum of disciplines. Most of these offer certification programs and assistance in getting your business started.

Start Up Cost: $3,000 – $20,000

Can Be Home Based?: Yes

Can Be Operated Part Time?: Yes

Skills Required:

The Basic Traits of an Entrepreneur

As a nutritionist in private practice, you will need to have or develop, in addition to your scientic expertise, the basic traits of a successful entrepreneur. You need to be a high-energy, driven person, with the self-discipline to start projects on your own, budget your time, and meet deadlines. You must be able to communicate ideas visually, verbally, and in writing, and have the ability to sell your ideas. Problem-solving <

Continuing Education and Staying on Top of Nutrition Trends

The nutrition business covers a myriad of topics, and new research is constantly coming out regarding every aspect of food, diet, and health. Positioning yourself as an expert will require you to be well-educated on nutrition basics, knowledgeable in your special areas of the field, and always up-to-date on the newest research and nutrition news.

Teaching Ability, an Outgoing Nature and People skills are Fundamental

Since you will be dealing one-on-one with people much of the time, the ability to apply effective teaching methods will be important in dealing with your clients. In order to market your business, an outgoing personality will be key, as you may be presenting seminars and/or be a guest on program panels and talk shows as you promote your business and expertise.

How Much Can You Earn:

According to 2006 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, traditionally trained and certified nutritionists employed in the healthcare field had median annual earnings of $46,980. Certified nutritionists in private practice were not tracked as to earnings. Operating your own home-based nutrition business may offer you a potential of more money. This depends, as with all home-based businesses, on whether you will go all-in, full time and working your business to the max, or if you will be doing a few consultations part-time. If you are offering product sales and add-on services along with consultation fees, you can factor in those volumes and profit margins when structuring your business plan estimates of potential income.

Understanding Customers:

Conduct Your Own Market Research

Your potential customer base is practically unlimited because almost everyone is vitally interested in food, nutrition and health. Do your own personal market research to learn what potential clients in your area will need, want and pay for. Be on the lookout for customer/client insights all the time, everywhere you go.

Health and Nutrition Websites, Forums

Research popular food and nutrition online websites and forums to get in touch with what current issues are being discussed and what topics are most-posted. Join the forums and post questions that will help you understand what your clients want and need.

Spend Time at Your Natural Foods Markets

Shop at markets and grocery stores specializing in natural foods; find out what nutrition magazines are best-sellers there, and subscribe to them. Chat with store managers about what foods and supplement products sell best, and what concerns people talk to them about most when shopping.

Marketing Strategy:

Cover the Basics, Choose Cost-Effective Methods, Stay Flexible

When announcing and promoting your nutrition consulting business to the community, cover the tried-and-true basics first. Don’t go all-out on expensive strategies that may not work or materials that can become obsolete as your business changes. Seek the simplest and most cost-effective marketing strategies when starting out.

Go Where Your Customers Are

You probably already frequent stores and attend events where people who are especially interested in natural foods and nutrition topics gather. Make a list of places you already go. Expand your list by getting out and about to more places where your potential customers are likely to be: natural food markets, alternative health practice fairs and trade shows, health practitioners’ offices and homes--to name just a few thought starters.

Look for Ways to Promote Your Business Everywhere You Go

Your lifestyle as a nutrition expert is likely to be similar to those of your potential clients. As you go about your daily schedule, ask yourself what marketing strategies you can put in place at each location. For example, natural foods markets often sponsor in-store programs on healthy cooking; you can reserve a booth at a future health fair or trade show; or you can devise partnering activities with like-minded health practitioners and arrange to work together and/or trade referrals.


Home Office Equipment

Every business owner needs a computer with the usual office software set, internet access, and a printer-scanner-copier.

A Place to Consult With Your Clients

If you have a home office, make sure it is client-friendly. Design a space to meet clients that is comfortable, seats at least two people, has attractive furniture, artwork and accessories that reflect your image as a professional authority on nutritional health.

Accreditation and Certifications

To effectively advertise and promote yourself as a nutritionist, you will need accreditation and credentials. First, research Department of Health regulations in your state and determine how you can label yourself and your business without violating state law. If you are not eligible to be a traditionally-licensed nutritionist, locate a recognized alternative association, such as the American Counsel of Nutritional Consultants, which offers membership credentials and liability insurance coverage.

Resource Urls

  •  American Association of Nutritional Consultants (AANC). Membership organization with a non-traditional certification program, insurance, and other benefits worth considering for home-based nutritionist entrepeneurs.
  •  The American College of Nutrition (ACN) established in 1959 to encourage the scientific investigation of nutrition. The ACN publishes, bi-monthly, the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." Traditional nutritionist and dietitian education and professional requirements.
  •  Certification Board for Nutritional Specialists, related to the American College of Nutrition. Traditional certification information.
  •  Global College of Natural Medicine, licensed by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education, offers Certificate & Diploma Programs in holistic health and nutrition. Website details certification programs and outlines assistance provided for students in starting their own businesses.
  •  School of Yoga Therapy and Natural Medicine. “Holistic Nutrition and Ayurveda” program. Internationally recognized school in Toronto, Canada. No online degrees, but offers high-profile specialized nutrition and health career education.
  •  Reports on nutrition business trends.

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