171: How to Start a Dietitian Business: The Complete Guide for Private Practice, Consulting, Freelancing, etc. (+ Nutrition Business Ideas for Dietitians)

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In this episode of The Dietitian Success Podcast, Krista brings it back to the basics for new listeners and talks about the 9 steps to starting a dietitian business, regardless of whether it’s private practice, consulting, freelancing, etc.  In this...

In this episode of The Dietitian Success Podcast, Krista brings it back to the basics for new listeners and talks about the 9 steps to starting a dietitian business, regardless of whether it’s private practice, consulting, freelancing, etc. 

In this episode, she covers: 

  • Dietitian business ideas – what do you want to offer? 
  • Dietitian business names – what do you want to call your business?
  • Business structure – will you set up as a sole proprietorship vs. corporation vs. LLC? 
  • Liability insurance for dietitians – what coverage do you require?
  • Practice management software – which platform will you use?
  • Finances – how will you keep track of revenues and expenses?
  • Dietitian private practice forms – which forms do you require?


Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Dietitian Success Podcast. Here at Dietitian Success Center, we’re all about making it easier for you to build your confidence and expertise. So, whether you’re a dietitian or a dietetic student, we’ve got something for you. I’m Krista, your host and the founder of DSC. Now, are you ready to ditch the imposter syndrome and join our incredible, vibrant community?

If so, let’s jump in.

  Hey there, and welcome to a new episode of the Dietitian Success Podcast. In this episode, we are going to cover the step by step business plan for how to start a dietitian private practice. And now, one thing to note is that nowadays, the term private practice refers to talk really doesn’t only refer to seeing clients one on one, either in person or virtually.

And I think, in fact, many practitioners actually have revenue streams or bring money in through a number of different avenues, including things like selling online courses, e books, working with brands, doing consulting, doing freelancing work, and so much more. So in this episode, we are going to be covering the following.

We’re going to be covering business ideas. So how do you actually come up with what you want to offer? Dietitian business names, so what do you want to call your business? Business structure, so will you be setting your business up as a sole proprietorship, a corporation, an LLC? We’ll be covering liability insurance for dietitians, so coverage that is required.

Practice management software, finances, so how you keep track of your revenues and expenses. And. Forms. Um, so which forms do you require? Um, and we’ll also be talking a little bit about marketing at the end, and we’ll also be talking at the end about whether working with a, a business coach is an important part of this process, whether you need to, whether you don’t need to.

And throughout this episode, we are going to be. I’m going to be referring to a number of different free resources that we have available, so for the most part, blog posts, they will all be linked below this episode if you’re listening to it, or this video if you’re watching it on YouTube, um, because there will be some topics that I’m not going to go into too much detail into in this episode.

I will refer you out to those free resources because the blog posts get into much more detail. So make sure and consult the, uh, the podcast or YouTube video description for that information. Now, one of the things that I feel like I personally and us as a team we’ve encountered while starting businesses, researching businesses, is that there’s a lot of information out there about the fun stuff.

So things like marketing, things like sales, um, but it’s really confusing and I think nobody really talks about, like, how do you actually set up a business? How do you actually get a business So that’s really our goal with this episode, is to provide you with that step by step framework. And if you do want a deeper dive, if you want more detail, if you want the exact how do I do this, um, we have a free website.

full business setup course within the Dietitian Success Center Nutrition Plus business membership. So, um, we provide you with detailed courses. We provide you with templates. We provide you with resources for all of the steps involved in starting and growing your business. One of my absolute favorite resources is our Ultimate Nutrition Business Template.

checklist, which is basically a step by step checklist of all the things to do at the different stages, and we provide videos for each, videos, templates, links, et cetera, for each stage of the process. So, it makes this whole process so much easier for you, and you can, um, get access for 54. Dollars a month and you can join for one month.

Um, you can join for however long you want But that is available to you. And again, that is linked below this video the dietitian success center nutrition plus business membership Now, the other thing I want to note, too, here is that this information in this episode is really applicable to most types of businesses, regardless of whether you are actually doing that one to one work, um, whether you’re doing consulting work, whether you’re selling online courses, et cetera.

Um, we’ve Um, we’ve done our best to sort of include details related to all of those aspects. Now, some of these steps will only apply to you if you’re actually working with clients one on one. So, for example, you know, private practice forms or an EMR system. Um, you don’t have to pay attention to those if you’re not actually working with patients or clients.

Okay. So one of the things that you might be struggling with at this point is the fear around doing it wrong. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve started businesses in the past, I was always so nervous that I was going to do something wrong. Whether that be from a legal perspective, a financial accounting perspective at dietetics perspective.

And I just want to assure you that there is no one right way to set up your business. Nobody does this part perfectly. Buckley, every single business is different in terms of the needs. Every business has slightly different requirements. So for example, if we consider two different scenarios, so let’s consider. You know, two practitioners who decide to collaborate, they decide to establish a private practice to gather in a physical location versus somebody who is a solo practitioner, setting up a virtual practice, the needs and considerations for each are going to be very different.

So for example, the duo might set their business up as a partnership. And because they’re setting up a physical office space, they’re going to have more startup costs related to fixtures rent. Utilities, all of those things. Um, they may also have unique insurance requirements since they have people visiting them in person.

So protecting them in scenarios where let’s say somebody trips and falls and sustains an injury when they, um, inside their office space. Conversely, the virtual practitioner may decide to set up their business as a sole proprietorship. They just decide that that’s the easiest way to get their business off the ground. They don’t necessarily have high startup costs because they’re setting up a virtual practice in their home office. Um, And so, you know, they have to decide on a virtual client management system that allows them to do video calls. But obviously these two scenarios are, are very different.

So we just have to keep that in mind. And if you do find yourself struggling with mindset throughout this journey, so let’s say you’re feeling a little bit of imposter syndrome. Some lack of confidence, maybe your perfectionism is halting your progress. Just know that you are not alone. These are very common challenges.

We have a whole course related to mindset in the dietitian success center, nutrition plus business membership. Because everybody deals with these challenges. So we provide you with some practical solutions. For how to navigate those feelings and overcome them. Now, before you set up your business, there are a few steps to be completed. And you can find more information about all of these steps either within the dietitian success podcast. Our blog, or if you join the DSE nutrition plus business membership, of course we cover all of this stuff in detail, but we want to make sure we’re very clear on our ideal client.

If we’ve defined a niche that we’re working with, , we want to make sure that we have a sense of what we are going to be offering. Very high level, what are we going to be teaching? How are we going to be delivering it? We probably want to come up with some preliminary pricing, just to sort of start mulling over what that’s going to look like.

And we want to start outlining our brand as well, including things like our brand essence, our brand adjectives fonts. We want to use colors. We want to use why? Well, because oftentimes that can help us, decide on a business name that feels right for us. So those are some things to do before you actually get into this setup process. Yes.

Okay. So let’s start with step one, which is coming up with the business ideas. If you’re at this point, you probably already have a sense of what you want to be offering with your business or what your business idea is, but perhaps there’s some activities that you haven’t even considered. I think that’s the really cool thing about being a dietitian and working in the nutrition space is you have the ability to be able to do so many different things under the umbrella business or under the umbrella of private practice.

Things like obviously working with clients. One-on-one, that’s typically what people think about first. Or working with people in more of a group atmosphere offering things like workshops, webinars, master classes. Creating a digital product, like an ebook, creating an online course. Offering a subscription or a membership service building your social media presence, working with brands. Doing freelancing and consulting work, doing recipe development, selling physical goods, having a money-making blog and so much more.

So that’s step one is having a sense of what exactly do you want to be offering? Step two is going to be choosing your dietitian business name now I am. Going to be linking to a blog post, which talks about this in a lot more in detail, but you do have a couple of options here.

When it comes to deciding on your business name, number one, you can operate in your own personal name. Of course, or number two is coming up with a unique business name. So like we’ve done for dietitian success center, for example. So how do we decide which one is right for us? Which direction to go?

There’s a couple of questions we can ask ourselves.

First of all, do you have an idea for a name? Has something already come to you organically? Second one is, do you want to be the center of your brand? The next one is obviously, is the name available or is it already taken? And then lastly, does the name align with your future business vision? So these are all different questions that we can ask ourselves.

And again, the blog posts that I’ve linked to below goes through some of the details and some of the things to think about in each of these scenarios in more detail. But by and large, if you are not wanting to be the center of the brand. So for example, with dietitian success center, I am not the brand.

That is a brand that lives on its own. And it doesn’t make sense for me to be the center of that brand. And so it made sense for that to not be because it’s an online learning platform. Wouldn’t make sense to be Krista college, Jessica online learning platform. Um, it needed its own name, but for example, if you are. Maybe working with patients one-on-one you are. Wanting to build up your presence as a media or brand dietitian, and you want to be the brand. Then that probably makes sense to operate in your own name.

You definitely have options here for sure.

The next step is going to be deciding on your business structure. So once you have given some thought to your business name, it’s time to consider your business structure and other RFQ options to choose from here and just know this is not legal advice. I’m simply outlining some of the options that are available to you, but if you want advice on which option is best for you, definitely consult with a lawyer. The most common options for business setup include things, include sole proprietorship corporation partnership, and an LLC, now I’m not going to go through the pros and cons extensively at each one of these options, because I do go through that in detail in the corresponding blog post, for this episode, which I’ve linked below, it’s titled how to start a dietitian private practice in that blog post, you can find pros and cons of each option.

The next step is deciding if your business is going to be in person or virtual, how this decision might be very clear to you depending on your business needs. So for example, if you’re making food products, you’re going to have to rent out a commercial kitchen likely, or maybe you’ve decided already that you’re going to be renting out space in a cross-functional clinic.

If you’re not sure yet, which can be the case. If you are a solo practitioner, who’s just getting started. Then you might still be in the decision phase. And so some of the reasons. Why people may choose to do virtual or choose to do brick and mortar, which is another term for, in person. So virtual or online nutrition businesses do tend to be a lot less expensive to set up there’s much fewer overhead costs.

You’re not having to worry about things like rent, utilities, fixtures. So it tends to be a little bit easier to set up. You also have obviously the flexibility of being able to work from home or work anywhere that you want. But we need to ensure that this works for your demographics. So for some practitioners, perhaps they teach yoga or their personal trainers.

And so they offer maybe bundles, which include personal training and nutrition. And so that type of work may need to be done in person. It may not need to be done in person now what about brick and mortar? Some of the benefits here is that because it’s separate from your personal space.

Some people find that it’s a little bit easier to be productive, easier to separate that work and home life. But of course we have greater overhead costs, rent utilities, et cetera. So it’s going to take a little bit longer for you to turn that first profit. But there’s also that opportunity to potentially build a bigger presence within your community.

You also get the benefit of things like sidewalk, marketing, people walking by and seeing your clinics, seeing your signage. Which can be really great for building awareness and marketing.

The next step is purchasing liability insurance. So I have linked to a blog post in the description of this episode for much more information on liability insurance, um, different coverage options, what that looks like now, one thing to know is that in the context of this scenario, insurances referring to. An insurance plan that you purchased to protect you and your business from liability.

We’re not talking about health insurance. So insurance that like a client or a patient would have, that would cover their practitioner services. And so liability insurance can be a confusing topic, especially if you’re new to the profession or if you’re starting a business. So make sure and check out that blog post for much more information.

And we’ve also provided some options for insurance providers as well, who do specific coverage for dietitians. The next step here is creating a system for organizing your finances. Now I can’t stress how important this piece is, knowing your numbers and setting up a system at the beginning that you can continue to. Consult that you can continue to use to make sure that you are aware of how much money you’re bringing in.

So your revenues and how much money you are spending. So your expenses. Ultimately at the end of the day, we want our businesses to be profitable. Right? There’s more money coming in than there is going out. But just note that it may take a little bit of time for your business to reach profitability.

And generally that’s going to be, because at the very beginning, you’re going to be probably incurring some startup costs. So you’re going to be spending more and you may not be bringing in any revenue at that point. So it’s going to take a little bit of time and by things like startup costs, I mean your website website, hosting your EMR platform. Any education, any coaching, your dietitian success center membership.

So these are all expenses that you might be incurring at the beginning when you’re not bringing in revenues. Having a good financial management process in place. Helps for a number of reason, it helps you. Assess where your business is at financially.

So are you profitable? How long until you anticipate that happens, are you undercharging for your services? You’re able to track growth and changes over time. So generally we do want to see our business growing year, over year, you’re able to also estimate and set aside money for taxes.

Of course, that’s a very important thing to remember when you start your own business. And you’re also able to plan for the future as well. So what can you invest back? Back in your business. Is there money left over that you can invest back into training, education, professional development, et cetera. Within the DSC nutrition plus business membership, we will give you a really simple money management tracker that you can use. To record your revenues, your expenses, and allocate money to different areas in your business.

Now you might also be wondering how exactly do I accept payments for the services that I’m offering?

Well, there’s a number of different options here, and it really depends on what you are sellers selling. And generally, nowadays, we, people aren’t paying for services with cash or checks, right. They’re going to be paying with a credit card. So how do you take payments via credit card? Well, luckily there’s a ton of systems out there now.

Online programs that actually make it really easy. Easy for us to be able to accept online payments. And so we cover this in the DSE nutrition plus business membership and give you a number of different options.

 Next, let’s talk about choosing a practice management platform, also called an EMR platform, which stands for electronic medical record platform. This is only going to be relevant to you if you’re working with patients or clients one on one or in groups and you’re collecting personal health information.

Now, practice management platforms have been one of the best innovations in the private practice healthcare space because it’s no longer. Do dietitian nutritionists have to try and piece together different platforms to, create efficient systems in their business, it’s all in one place. And so these platforms allow you to do things like onboard your clients, book appointments, collect personal health information through things like 24 hour recalls, intake forms, sign forms and documents, process payments, conduct virtual consultations, etc.

So if you are trying to decide which platform to use, we have written an extensive blog post that compares a number of the most popular different platforms and some pros and cons of each. Now one thing to note is that DSC members can actually get 20 percent off their first four months of practice better, by using the link in the description of this episode and if you use the code DSC20.

at checkout. And this is an affiliate link, so we do earn a commission if you purchase through this link. But by far this is the most popular EMR platform that’s used by our members, so that’s why we’ve been working with them to provide you with a discount. So make sure and check that out and check out that blog post for a full comparison of various platforms.

Now the next step is gathering private practice forms. Now again, this is for you if you’re working with people one on one. You’re going to have a number of different forms in place, but the core forms are having an intake form, whether that’s for adults or kids. an initial chart note, a follow up chart note, 24 hour recall, three day food record.

And again, if you are using Practice Better as your EMR, we actually have partnered with them to provide you with a free client forms bundle, so you can get a copy of each of these templates for free. And again, that is linked below this episode. And you’ll also want to have a couple legal forms in place, things like a client agreement, which is going to include informed consent, outlining your services, your confidentiality, your payment terms, refunds policy, and also website terms and conditions, and a website privacy policy as well are important.

And then next is, let’s talk about marketing. So once we have our business all set up, now it’s time to hit the ground running and start start marketing your services. Now, marketing is an essential component of running a successful business. It is not as simple as you opened your doors and people just come and find you magically and pay for your services.

You have to get out there, you have to showcase what you have to offer, and this can be really challenging. It can be really, really, really scary for people that are new to this world. Marketing is one of the topics we cover in the most detail within the membership. And so there’s a number of different marketing strategies that we can use.

It’s not just Instagram. We can do so many different things like developing in person referral networks with other practitioners, um, having an SEO optimized website, a blog, social media, and so, so, so much more. Now, one of the things people will often ask is should I work with a dietitian business coach?

Now, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, this is maybe something that you are asking yourself. Now, within the DSC Nutrition Plus Business Membership, we actually provide you with the essence of business coaching without the price tag of a high ticket business coach. So, we offer the A really awesome community, and we also have a really cool Q& A feature where you can send a video or an audio message to our team and we will respond back to you with a personalized answer, a personalized response.

So you get that. type of support, that individualized support, that individualized, uh, feedback. And then you also get access to the community forum where we have hundreds of fellow dietitian entrepreneurs who are there and available to answer your questions and provide their feedback based on their own experiences.

So make sure and check that out. So we hope that this episode was helpful for you and sort of understanding some of those first steps. If you found this useful, make sure and share it with a fellow friend or colleague who is thinking about starting their own business. That is one of the best ways to support the work that we do is to just share it with other people.

So thank you so much for listening. We hope you have an awesome week and we will see you in the next episode.

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