Start Your Nutrition Business on a Shoestring! - Lesli Bitel Coaching
Lesli Bitel registered dietitian coach

Start Your Nutrition Business on a Shoestring!

We’ve all heard it before… You can start your nutrition business on a shoestring budget if you’re determined and you work hard.

Well… It’s B.S.

And you know it. You can’t start a business on a shoestring, unless perhaps you’re selling shoestrings.

If you want to have an actual, sustainable, thriving, nutrition business, you must invest money in it.

The average small business start-up invests anywhere from $35,000 to $100,000 plus another few hundred thousand in assets for operating costs.

And that’s before having any customers or making any sales. Most people expect to operate at a loss for at least the first year or more.

There’s nothing wrong with bootstrapping when you are starting out.

But too many novice entrepreneurs think that hard work and lots of passion is enough to get by.

What usually happens is that the entrepreneurs with no capital to run on grow so slowly, that the owner gets discouraged (not to mention broke) and quits within 18 months. A whopping 29% of small businesses fail during their first year due to a lack of capital and cash flow alone.

Now for the good news…

According to Microsoft, the average start-up costs in the health and wellness niche is $27,000.  Even better news, if you are a consultant, coach, trainer or expert, it takes far less start-up money and requires much less overhead than almost any other industry.

Business Expenses to Plan for When You’re on a Tight Budget

You don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get going.

For example:

  • Many of you can work with your clients virtually – on the phone, Zoom, and the Internet. That means we don’t have to have a “brick and mortar” store or office in order to see clients.
  • When you’re starting out, it usually just you and you. No employees, payroll tax, employee benefits, etc.
  • The cost of a website in order to attract clients is incredibly low these days, and if you’re handy, WordPress has made doing it yourself a real no-brainer.
  • There are a few other costs involved in running your biz: mailing list management (like ConvertKit, MailerLite, or MailChimp), a premium Zoom account to hold virtual sessions with your clients, a scheduling tool like Calendly … but these are relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things.

How to Save Money When You’re On a Limited Budget

Although you won’t have the huge overhead costs of a traditional brick and mortar and your operating costs will be low, there are always ways to cut back on expenses.

Your phone line:

Until recently, a phone line was a huge expense. Nowadays, instead of investing in a dedicated business phone line, sign up for a Google phone number. There’s an app for iPhone & Android too! That means you can use your Google number just like you would any other number, have a voicemail, and even send text messages from your new business phone number. And it’s FREE!

Growing your team on a shoestring:

These days, working remotely has become commonplace. That means there are people all over the world who you can hire on a freelance basis to help you run your business. In most cases, you don’t have to worry about payroll taxes or benefits.

When you are just starting your entrepreneurial journey, your resources are stretched thin and you may not have it in your budget to hire someone full-time.

There are millions of freelancers and independent contractors out there who are happy to work on a part-time or as-needed basis. help you manage your emails and email lists, provide customer support, update your blogs, post on social media platforms, help with your website and so much more!

Look for Facebook groups dedicated to freelancers or ask in the dietician and nutrition groups that you are already a member of.

Advertising & Marketing:

Advertising in today’s world is so much easier than it was even 5 years ago when you have an online business. And the good news is, you don’t have to spend a much money at all to get your name out there.

Social media is a highly-effective way to get your name out there. Choose your favorite social media platform like Instagram or Facebook and create content that speaks to your ideal client.

Social media sites reward you for creating engaging and valuable content by boosting your online presence. Use hashtags and relevant keywords in your post so your content comes up when someone searches for a solution to their problem.

Be sure to have a call-to-action to get your potential clients to sign up for your email list.

When you’re starting your business on a shoestring budget, you may not have the funds for paid advertising like Google ads or Facebook ads. That doesn’t mean you can’t get visitors and views on your website and blog posts.

Use keywords that your ideal clients would use so you show up on search engine results. Content marketing or blogging is a valuable tool when you don’t have much of (or any) marketing budget.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an entire industry that makes millions of dollars each year. It can be overwhelming. The most important thing to improve your search rankings is to include keywords your ideal clients would use when searching for solutions to their problem. If you do that consistently, you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Another overlooked thing you can do for free advertising is to pay attention to conversations around you. Your potential customers can be found virtually anywhere. When you’re out and about, going to PTA meetings, at the dog park, or just about anywhere else, if someone mentions problems that you solve speak up and let them know you can help.

Take Advantage of Business Listings

While there are plenty of places that you need to pay to list your business online, there are also a lot of options for free or discounted business listings. One of my favorite places to list businesses is local Facebook groups.

Many times there are Facebook Groups just for business owners in your area. Not only is it a great place to list your online business, you may also find other business owners in your area who offer discounts to other members for things you may need like business insurance.

List your business on Google My Business. As a business owner, it’s easy to do and get your nutrition business in front of the right people. Anything you can do to expand your online presence always pays off. They will want to know what type of business you have, what services you offer and your contact information.

Listing your business with Google will help you get more traffic to your blog posts because Google sees you as a legitimate business entity. And as a bonus, your loyal customers can leave raving reviews for your new clients to see!

When you are creating your business listing, be sure to use keywords so you’ll show up if someone searches the listings, have your email address and website URL in the listing, and any other contact info that makes it easy for your potential clients to book with you.

The Smart Way to Invest in Your Nutrition Business When You’re on a Shoestring

The single largest (and smartest) investment you will make initially is getting the training, coaching, and mentoring you need to move forward as quickly and easily as you can.

Now that many sound self-serving, since what I do is business coaching for dietitians, nutritionists, and other health professionals.

But let me tell you about some behind-the-scenes situations you may not know about:

When I started Lesli Bitel Coaching, we were in a financial bind (along with most of the rest of the country). But we knew that we needed to get help with our business if we were going to succeed (and not be like the 70% of businesses that go belly up each year).

So I hired a coach, enrolled in programs and classes, bought training products… and worked my tail off. I made a decision that I would get a return on my investment no matter what.

It was more than a little bit scary but also very exciting.

And it has paid off in ways that I could not have dreamed.

I’ve had my own personal coach ever since and it has made ALL the difference.

I tell you this so you know that I take my own advice. I do walk the walk. That’s exactly why I can pass things on to you – because I’ve been there and I’m still applying the same tools I teach, day in and day out.

So I urge you to not try to “go it alone.” Get into a community of other like-minded health & nutrition business owners and get mentorship. That’s why I created my own private Facebook Group for Dietitians, Integrative & Functional Nutritionists, and other Health Professionals.

This group is a place where integrative and functional dietitians and other licensed practitioners can collaborate and share best practices on everything from: Practice Building Strategies, Marketing to attract Ideal Clients, Creating Multiple Revenue Streams, use of Functional Testing, IFM Diet and Supplement protocols.

It’s free to join and completely confidential and private.