Interested in Starting a Nutrition Coaching Business?
Are you thinking about starting a nutrition coaching business? Perhaps you’re passionate about health & wellness and want to help others work towards their weight, health, and fitness goals. Read on to determine the essential steps before jumping ship from your current career.
Determine The Credentials You Need
Before starting a coaching practice, it’s important to be sure you are properly qualified for the role you want to perform. And before signing up for another degree or certification, be sure it’s necessary for that same role. Education and courses are great, but you can end up spending a lot of unnecessary time and money.
First, decide the role you want and then determine what your state (or country) requires for that profession and scope of practice. This blog post is for general education and should not be considered legal, financial, or professional advice.
Regulations vary by state (and country), and it’s important for the individual to research these requirements before getting started. In many states, titles like “nutritionist” and “dietitian” are only those who meet certain qualifications and licensure by the state. Qualifications are often possessing a degree and a board certification (e.g., Certified Nutrition Specialist®) to become licensed.
Licensure often affords individuals to make individualized meals plans and practice medical nutrition therapy (e.g., make nutrition recommendations in like of a diagnosed condition like hypothyroidism). Licensure has a relatively strict and clear path, but also may not be needed for what you want to do. For example, general weight and health coaching may not be regulated at all. Take the time to get crystal clear on what scope of practice you want and what your state requires before signing up for another course.
Individuals interested in basic wellness coaching may be interested in taking my Three Pillars Method™ Masterclass – for Coaches. From there, individuals may choose to go on to become an affiliate to teach others the Three Pillars Method™.
Do You Know You Like Nutrition Coaching?
Once you’ve figured out the role and requirements, it’s a good idea to try shadowing someone in the role you want. Definitely do this before committing to a certification or degree because it’s pretty easy to perceive a job to be something it’s not. (Instagram versus reality in real life.)
Shadowing helps you get crystal clear on what you want to do each day, and what services you want to offer. Do you want to work 1:1 with individuals? Do you want to design individualized meals plans? Will you focus on healthy habits instead of meal plans? Do you want to recommend and interpret labs? Deciding this role helps determine what credentials you do or don’t need.
Ask questions about their day to day, how they spend their time, what skills and credentials they need, as well as downsides or challenges they face.
A second way to test the waters is to try coaching! Working with close friends and family gives you a forgiving audience to test your services and skill set. Another option is to run a ready-made gym nutrition program or challenge such as the #800gChallenge® or Lazy Macros® programs. These template programs give you some exposure to what running group programs is like, as well as coaching individuals in nutrition. Ideally, you learn about whether you like individual or group coaching (or coaching at all), what a program might look like, the type of materials needed for marketing and content, among other factors.
This is all to help you decide if nutrition coaching is for you!
Develop a Core Offering
Once you know nutrition coaching is for you (and you have the necessary credentials): it’s time to develop a core offering. It’s best to get started with one product or service, refine and develop it, before branching out into others. Be ready to go through multiple iterations of this offering – including pricing – changing it based on client feedback as well as your own experience. Maybe it’s a 6 week program that focuses on six core habits, maybe it’s 1:1 coaching that’s simply month-to-month.
Keep in mind: you can never develop a program for everyone. The goal is to develop a product that marries your strengths and interests with a needed service. You do not need to develop a program for every possible client. Instead, focus on a select type of client with a problem you can solve, and be ready to turn away those that aren’t a good fit.
Scale the Side Hustle Before Making it Your Day Job
While some people say you’ll need to go “all in” on a side hustle to make it work, that is not recommended. Instead, grow your side hustle to where it’s repeatedly matching your regular income and you have an emergency fund for at least a few months in the business. This helps minimize the risk when branching out on your own. This also gives you more time to test out nutrition coaching before thinking it’s your new career path!
To grow this side hustle, your best marketing will be your clients, not social media or your website. At least in the beginning! Leverage your existing contacts and communities (e.g., gyms, civic groups) that already know, like, and trust you to build your client base. Your phone contains your first 40 clients if not more. People think there is a magic way to start a nutrition business, when in reality it’s just about getting started with people you know who are a good fit for your services (and the good news is a lot of people need nutrition guidance!).
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Nutrition Business?
Not including any degree or certification programs, upfront business costs can be pretty low (<$5,000) – particularly if you are working with remote clients. Costs include forming an LLC, developing a client waiver with legal counsel, obtaining professional liability insurance, and basic website set-up and software costs (e.g., email service, Zoom).
To keep costs low, use organic marketing. This can include organic posting on social media, as well as using your personal networks. Digital marketing – either with SEO or Ads – are quite powerful but require a good amount of know-how and/or cost to be effective.
Want to Learn More About Starting a Nutrition Side Hustle?
In one of the episodes of The Consistency Project podcast, I talked to Sam about her desired to start a nutrition side hustle. Click the links below to give it a listen. (If you open in another player, scroll back to November 2022.)