Ann Garry – Zest4life Director & Founder: Nutrition Business Success Formula
You’ve put in several hard years of study at nutrition college - possibly juggling family life, a job and lockdowns at the same time. You’ve got your professional qualification in your hand. Now it’s time to start your practice.
And with that can come the realisation that despite all your nutrition knowledge that you’re ready to share with the world, your business knowledge is next to nothing. How will you find clients and develop a successful practice? Where do you start?
The good news is that getting the basics in place is not complicated. It requires a couple of days of admin and a bit of thought.
Once these foundations are in place you are able to start seeing clients despite the fact that you might not yet have a stunning website or 1000 followers on social media. Those come later!
1. Decide on a company name
This is the fun part! It may be that you want to simply call the business after your name, or decide on something that reflects your specialism (if you have one). When you have some possibilities, write them down, say them out loud, check if they’re available as a domain name and on social media, and ask friends and family what they think.
It needs to be a name that you feel comfortable using and saying so take time getting used to it.
2. Get the legal basics in place
There are a few legal requirements that must be completed before you can officially start seeing clients. These include:
• Register with HMRC - either as a sole trader or a limited company
• Join a professional body such as BANT, CNHC, AfN etc. Your choice will be dictated by the qualification that you hold.
• Register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for data protection purposes. Also carry out a data audit to understand what level of protection you need for your practice. If you’re a member of BANT, they have a handy template that can be used for this.
• Ensure you have GDPR-compliant storage for your client details - this may be required on your laptop, cloud-based systems etc.
• Insurance must be in place before you take on clients. Some companies, such as Holistic Insurance and Balens, specialise in insurance for nutrition professionals. Look for professional indemnity, malpractice and professional liability and public liability cover.
3. Consider where you will practice
There are three options for where, and how, you will practice - online, from home or in an external clinic space - and each come with their pros and cons.
Thanks to the recent pandemic, most people are more comfortable than ever to consult online, via Zoom, Skype etc. It can be easy and convenient, allowing you to see clients without the need for a full clinic space. However there are still some things to consider if you’d like to make this the main way that you practice:
• is your broadband good enough?
• are you confident using the technology yourself?
• do you have a quiet space in which to position yourself?
• do you have an alternative means, like a home office, to see people in if they don’t want appointments online?
The main consideration when choosing whether to work from home is whether the space is suitably professional enough for clients. Again, working from home can be very convenient, but may blur the boundaries between working life and home life. Some considerations could be:
• is there sufficient privacy? Can you be overheard if someone else is in the house?
• does the room, and hallway, look clean, tidy and professional at all times?
• do you have sufficient parking?
• is the space quiet, or do you have other family members or pets in the house with you?
External clinic space
This can be the preferred choice for some, as it may be easier to figuratively leave clients (and work) at the clinic rather than bringing them into your home. However it is the option with the greatest cost attached. When choosing an external clinic space you may like to ask:
• will the clinic promote you in their marketing material?
• how will bookings work?
• what is the cost of hiring a space? Is it a flat rate or per appointment?
• do the other practitioners complement or compete with your practice?
4. Choose a payment system
While a BACs transfer is an acceptable means of taking payment, it can be more time-consuming for both you and your client. You, because you may need to keep checking that the money has been received, and your client because they have to log in to their bank and set you up as a payee.
Some alternatives for either in person, over the phone or online payments include iZettle, Square, Stripe and Paypal. These will incur a transaction fee, but can make your practice more streamlined and save you lots of admin time in the long term.
5. Define your ideal client
Our work with Nutritional Professionals has proven time and again that being clear about your ideal client, and choosing an area to specialise in early on, gives your business a targeted approach that really pays off.
If you want to help everyone from a 25-year-old man with IBS to a couple looking for fertility support or a 51-year-old woman struggling with menopause, then it is incredibly difficult to communicate your worth to them. Are you a gut specialist, fertility expert or hormone guru? How can you market yourself to all three audiences at the same time? Have you got time for extensive CPD to become proficient in lots of different areas?
Spend time really thinking about your ideal client. Build up a clear picture:
• how old are they?
• what do they do?
• where do they live?
• what social media do they use?
• what are their health issues?
• what are their other concerns?
And so on. Once they are clear in your head, then you can direct your marketing at them, and you will speak to them on a level that resonates.
6. Have a plan for discovery calls
Once word of mouth that you are a qualified Nutritional Practitioner is out, people will start getting in touch. This is where having a plan for discovery calls is really important. Yes, you could have a supportive chat with them to understand their health issues. However, unless you have the steps clear in your head to turn that conversation into one in which you can propose your services and warmly invite the client to work with you, it’s not going to help your business.
Know that what you have to offer is of the highest value to someone who is suffering in an area of their health. Know that by holding back from offering your programmes, someone may stay suffering unnecessarily! Discovery call conversations open up the possibility for change and transformation.
Take time to draw up an outline of how the discovery call may go - simple questions such as ‘what inspired you to put the call in today?’ can be great to start the dialogue. Give them time to talk about their issues, explain what’s worked/hasn’t worked from them in the past, describe what good health would look like for them.
Then give them some simple nutrition tips they can get started with straight away and gently propose that you let them know how you work, and what your prices are. Your aim is to describe your programme so it meets your client’s needs and pain points, so they understand how you will support them. This allows you to make a sale without feeling ‘salesy’ or pushy.
7. Start spreading the word about your nutrition business
When all the above is in place, it’s time to start marketing your business! This is something that can be done in small steps, but the key is to have somewhere that you can direct prospective clients to find out more about you and what you offer, and know how to get in touch with you.
It may be that you start with a Facebook business page, or a simple landing page that gives a brief description about you, what you do, and how to get in touch. A beautifully-designed website can take time to put together - the important thing in the early days is to have a holding space with your basic information and how to book in for a discovery call.
To do this, you will need to register your domain name. Companies like 123-reg or GoDaddy make the process straightforward - if you spot a few similar domain names it can be worth snapping them all up. Make sure you buy both .co.uk and .com to prevent another business having a very similar name to yours.
And then start to have fun! Begin by spreading the word via friends and family that you’re newly qualified and ready to help, start planning your website and venture into the world of social media.
If you feel that you need further help and advice on starting up your nutrition business, then book a free business mentoring call with one of our nutrition business experts. We can learn more about what you want to achieve for your business; we will also give you some free coaching and talk you through how our programmes can help you get there.
Book your 45 minute complimentary business mentoring call using this link: https://zestmentor.as.me/45mins