What is it and who is it suited to?
Planning and research
Rules and regulations
Costs and potential earnings
Costs and potential earnings
Aside from the costs of qualifying, which vary depending on the course you choose, establishing a nutritional therapist business can be a fairly inexpensive affair, which is good news for most people starting out. There are a few necessary expenditures however, such as obtaining sufficient insurance to cover you in case of malpractice claims. You’ll also need to acquire adequate premises in which to see your clients, although with suitable health and safety precautions, it might be possible to transfer a room in your home into your consultation room, provided you won’t be interrupted during sessions by any children, pets or other members of the household.
To practise efficiently as a nutritionist you will require a reliable computer and some basic stationery, which will add to initial costs, although most people will already have a computer they can use at home. It’s a good idea to get some business cards printed so you can hand them out to potential clients, however these need not be expensive to buy. Other initial outlays include obtaining third party endorsement, such as registering with the British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT), which will help to build your business’ reputation – clients often look for such certification before committing themselves. Setting up a website for your business is also highly recommended as it will inform potential clients about your practice and a professional looking site with good industry endorsement will add credibility to your name. It is possible to set up a decent website without breaking the bank and there are plenty of website building template packages you can use if all you’re after is a brochure site with contact details, basic details about your services and a few customer testimonials.
You might also want to invest some money in marketing and advertising your business. Placing advertisements in local newspapers or putting your business card on notice boards at local health centres or GP surgeries is a good way to get your name out in your area. You can also test the waters with some geographically targeted pay per click (PPC) advertising on search engines, adjusting your budget according to how successful it is for you. However, many nutritional therapists find that word-of-mouth and client recommendations are by far the most valuable promotional tools, so it is important to serve you clients well in order to obtain these referrals. There are of course various free marketing tools at your disposal as well, such as social media platforms and writing your own blog. An excellent way to meet fellow industry people is through conferences organised by BANT and other industry bodies, which are available to members.
Julie Pegler, co-founder of Healthy Eating Organisation, believes it is possible to set up as a nutritional therapist for as little as a few hundred pounds and the cost of actually running the business itself will also be minimal. However, it can take a while to build up a solid and loyal customer base, so it’s important that you’ve planned for this and have enough money saved to survive on until business picks up. There are a number of avenues you can explore to help keep the money coming in, such as acquiring a regular health column in a newspaper or magazine, which also helps promote your business and build up your reputation. You might also want to consider doing talks at schools or organisations on the importance of healthy eating – this can be a great way to earn cash fast. Charlotte Fraser, from Naturopathic Nutrition, advises not giving up your day job completely when you start your business, because you can’t build a practice overnight. Depending on your previous career, you might be able continue working part-time in your job until you’ve acquired enough clients to pursue your nutritional therapist career full-time.
With regards to what you can earn as a nutritional therapist, the amount varies dramatically. An hours’ consultation will cost a client anything from £30 to £100, so where you set your prices will depend on your own personal circumstances and where your business is based. Conduct extensive research of your local area and gauge what other nutritionists are charging, then it’s probably best to set your prices around the average mark. Charlotte Fraser made the mistake of actually pricing her services too low at the start: “I started with lower rates but I found that I got more bookings when I put up my prices a bit – if you’re too low people won’t trust you, although you don’t want to be too expensive either.” It’s important to strike the right balance to avoid putting off potential clients.