Starting a nutrition private practice can be daunting. I totally get it. I remember when I opened my practice there were (many!) days I just wanted to cry – and probably did. Like ugly cry. Real. Ugly. Cry.
But seriously, it should not be that difficult. And girl, I totally have your back. Here are what I would consider the 10 most critical steps to opening a successful nutrition private practice.
Having a clear and cohesive marketing plan is essential for your success as a private practice dietitian. A few important questions to consider:
Want to be successful in private practice? Fine-tune the shit out of your marketing plan until it perfectly aligns with your target population. Successful private practice dietitians always have a marketing plan. We don’t just wing it.
Form a legal entity.
Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your practice is sued (which is will NOT be! But you can never be too safe) as well as being super important for filing your annual taxes. I have a whole section on my website under ‘Resources’ on the difference among the various business structures: Sole Proprietor, LLC and S-Corp.
I would suggest creating an LLC when you first start your practice. All the steps for making this happen are located here. The process varies state-by-state. So double check with your tax professional to ensure you have completed all the necessary steps. In order to start a successful nutrition private practice you need to be set up properly. Therefore, don’t drop the ball on this one.
Register for an NPI.
You will need it for creating superbills for your clients as well as if you decide to get credentialed with the insurance companies (which I sure hope you do!). You can apply for an NPI using this link. It is painless and takes about 5 minutes.
Open a business bank account.
A dedicated business checking account for your practice keeps your finances organized. It also prevents you from co-mingling of your accounts which is a no-no!
I use Bank of America but you can use your bank of choice. I would suggest opening up a checking account and applying for a business credit card. This will really streamline your finances and ensure for a successful nutrition private practice.
Create an accounting system.
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial fitness of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed records also simplifies your annual tax filing.
I enter my expenses once a month (usually on the 16th to be exact). I use an online version of Quickbooks. It took a little getting used to but the program is fairly intuitive to use. I can’t stress the importance of setting aside time for accounting. Having a successful nutrition private practice will not be possible without this critical step.
Get liability insurance.
The Academy offers a discount to members for liability insurance. I pay around $120 per year. On The Reimbursement Dietitian website, I have a list of the different carriers most dietitians use. Here is a link to that resource. You will need liability insurance BEFORE you see ANY clients.
Define your brand.
Your brand is what your company or practice stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. By niching down and figuring out what your target population really truly wants you will make it possible for your brand to stand out among your competitors.
As you further define your brand you might want to check out inexpensive sites like Fiverr, Etsy, 99 Designs and Creative Market to create logos, color palates and fonts consistent with what your brand represents. I love pretty things and have found these websites to be my ‘go-to’ resources for keeping branding consistent with who I am and what I represent.
A successful nutrition private practice has a clear, cohesive and consistent brand presence.
Get yourself self some business cards.
Now that you know who your ideal customer is and you have spent some time creating your brand, now you can order your business cards. I always use Vistaprint for my business cards but places like Etsy and Moo also seem to offer a great variety of styles and price points.
Establish a web presence.
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products and/or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
I would suggest starting with just one platform whether it to be Instagram or Facebook to market your services to your ideal customers.
The easy way to decide on which one to use is to ask, “Where the heck is my niche hanging out these days?” Also don’t forget to make sure your profile is complete and accurately represents your brand and speaks directly to your niche.
In regards to a website, I think it is really important to have a professionally done website. However, with that being said, a professional website is likely going to cost you a couple of bucks. So, I think rather than DIY I would encourage you to save your money until you are ready to hire someone. You can pitch your services on social media for ‘free’ while you are building up your website fund.
Start to tell the RIGHT people who you serve and how you serve them. Start by reaching out to professionals who share your ideal client. Make a list of ALL the wellness professionals who work with your niche and start a conversation with them on how you can help their patients.
This discussion can be via email, through a direct letter chock full of your beautiful business cards, or face to face. Need a little inspiration check out my post “How to Secure Referrals like a Boss.”
There you have it. Ten things to start doing right now to open up the nutrition private practice of your dreams. While they may seem easy in theory I totally get that there is NOTHING easy-peasy about opening a private practice. However, what I can assure you of is this, if you follow these tips you will be well on your way to opening a SUCCESSFUL practice. Owning a practice is one thing. Ensuring its success is another. Cheers to your success little Mamas!
Hugs & High Fives – Amy
P.S. Is your type A dietitian personality rearing its pretty little head? Feeling overwhelmed? In need of some hand-holding in opening your practice? Hit me up. Apply to my reimbursement coaching program I teach dietitians exactly how to open a successful private practice. I currently do have a waitlist but that shouldn’t stop you from applying.
P.P.S. Have a friend or fellow dietitian struggling to get their nutrition practice off the ground who might benefit from this blog? Pretty please share the love and this! XoXo