ISSA Nutritionist Chapter 13: Business in Nutrition Coaching 1

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    Chapter Goals:

    • Explore and describe the most common forms of nutrition coaching.
    • Be able to discuss how to write a nutrition coaching business plan.
    • List the methods used to build clientele.
    • Be able to discuss the importance of getting client referrals. 


    Nutrition Coaches may work as independent contractors for a fitness facility, they can work directly for the gym, or they can work on their own and have their own client base.

    Oftentimes nutrition coaches will work as employees in companies and organizations. 

    Coaches that choose to work independently will be both nutrition coaches and small business owners. 

    Freelance nutrition coaches work for themselves with their own clients and must develop a business plan, market their services, and then also find their clients.

    Style of Nutrition Coaching

    The first step in starting an independent coaching business is to determine the style of coaching it will offer and the targeted clients.

    It is important for coaches to have an idea of the scope of practice for certified nutrition professionals. Nutrition coaches are not allowed to offer medical advice or diagnose conditions. 

    In-person Coaching

    Nutrition coaching is flexible and can take on many different forms. 

    In-Person coaching is possibly an option for health clubs, private fitness facilities, or at home. 

    The disadvantage of in-person coaching is that the method requires more logical planning. So that both the client and coach can meet at agreed times and places.

    Group Coaching

    Solo sessions with clients allow for a good foundation, but groups and community services for nutrition also have a place in the coaching business.

    Group sessions do not give much time for individual meal planning, but question and answer sessions can give value to the clients. A group session may be an ideal way for you to meet and network with even more clients.

    Major benefits of group coaching are things like support and accountability. Open communication in groups allows for the encouragement of mutual support from those in the group.

    Virtual Coaching

    Online and virtual coaching services are rapidly growing in popularity with the coaches and clients.

    Nutrition coaches allow you to reach clients globally, using websites, nutrition apps, and social media platforms.

    This also allows for a potentially larger client base.

    Corporate Wellness Coaching

    Corporate wellness is increasingly popular with employers. 

    Health care is always rising in costs, and employers always wish to reduce their health care premiums, and the use of nutrition coaches in these settings can be quite beneficial. 

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    Writing a Business Plan

    Planning is a vital part of the process of creating a small business. 

    Planning includes learning about the competition, the market that is available, and the accessible funding for the business.

    Business plans will outline the structure, marketing, and growth of new businesses.

    The Small Business Administration, or the SBA, is an organization that is available to all small business owners and anyone that is interested in starting a business.

    The SBA gives resources like consultants and business loans.

    There are two types of business plans, according to the SBA.

    Traditional Business Plan

    The traditional format is ideal for those who are detail-oriented and looking for a very comprehensive overview and plan for a new business.

    The elements of this traditional business plan are:

    • An executive summary for the what and the why for the business. 
    • A detailed company description and market analysis should be part of this plan and it will explain the market for the business and give an in-depth look at local competition.
    • The business plan will describe the type of organization.
    • A comprehensive description of services offered should be put in here too, along with an estimate for the customer life cycle.
    • Marketing should be a part of this business plan.
    • A traditional business plan should be used to get funding, so it needs to have financial projections and requests made for funding.

    Lean Business Plan

    This will include most of the same information from the traditional business plan, but with a lot less detail.

    This type of plan is mainly used for the owner and any other employees for the organization of the structure, finances, and plans for future growth. 

    Lan formats are ideal for smaller businesses that will be starting up fast and offering a few services only.


    This is essential for bringing awareness and bringing in new clients for a business.

    You need to look at your target market so that you are able to most effectively market to them. You should make use of online analytics and the conduction of surveys for customers. Social media is a growing tool for this, also.

    Business messaging is key for consistent marketing and branding. For the creation of business messages, you first determine the audience and then find how the business will put its marketing efforts in and remain consistent. 

    Social media and online presences for companies are proving to be the hallmark of modern marketing in today’s age. 

    Researching competitors is important so you can use the most effective tools to enhance your business and what better way than by looking at other successful similar businesses.

    A SWOT analysis looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

    Building a Client List

    It is important that coaches work to develop some long term relationships with clients and work on adding in new clients at the same time. 

    Determining the Need

    Every possible client will have a goal or problem they wish to solve. Possible nutrition clients might have weight loss goals, or they may just need help becoming more consistent with an effective diet.

    A superficial need is often a quick response that a person gives when asked why they are interested in working with a nutrition coach. So, you have to be prepared for that and also prepared to ask questions to help them expand on those superficial answers.

    Filling the Need

    It is possible to offer solutions to the client’s spoken needs directly. The new client must understand how it helps them meet their goals prior to committing to buying into your services.

    Another thing to take into account is that a client may have their needs and goals change throughout the time they are with you. So, it is important to maintain this good relationship with the clients to understand how their ideas change in the relationship.

    Ask the right questions to the clients, and you will get the proper information out of them.

    Asking Questions and Taking Notes

    When a potential client is considering buying into your services provided, you should address any of their concerns or barriers that may be stopping them from fully committing or signing up.

    The coach needs to find the hesitations the client may have and make them worry less about them. This is vital for signing new clients.

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    It can be beneficial to talk about concerns in advance to reduce the likelihood that the client changes their mind later.

    Close the Sale

    A nutrition coach has a lot of work ahead in the way of uncovering the motivations and barriers that a possible client has. 

    When asking for the sale, you should try using a few specific things:

    • The possible client’s reason for wanting their change
    • Some things they failed to do in the past
    • The current goals they want to achieve
    • What they feel they may have failed in trying in the past
    • When they have felt most successful
    • The services offered that would fit them the best

    Closing doesn’t have to be super scary. If you ask good questions and act confident, it will likely go well.

    Client Referrals

    A referral is vital for building up your clientele. 

    When current and previous clients refer others for their services, it means that they trust the coach and value the service they received. 

    Referrals may sometimes even come from a person that hasn’t been a client but knows of the things their friend is saying about the coach.

    Promoters vs. Detractors

    Both coaches and small business owners will find two types of people: promoters and detractors.

    Promoters are the ones that had a good experience, and they are likely to refer services to another person.

    Detractors are the unsatisfied people that will do the exact opposite. 

    It is a good idea to conduct surveys of current, past, and potential clients to see how the things you do are being perceived.

    Positive Shareable Marketing Material

    Using positive client reviews, with permission, is a great way to prove the value of services to new people looking in.

    Marketing materials and posts with client testimonials should be positive, informative, colorful, and engaging for people to read.

    When to ask for referrals

    Any time may be a good time to ask for referrals, but people are most excited when they have seen results and have something positive they’ve experienced. 

    Coaches should try to leverage these exciting times into asking for referrals to new clients.

    Common Business Mistakes to Avoid

    Coaching clients is very different from handling a business. They both require different types of skills, but both skill sets will lead to successful business in general.

    Some common mistakes that are seen are things like:

    • Failing to track client information
    • Assuming everything needs to be done virtually. 
    • Assuming all clients have adequate skills in technology
    • Failing to check in with your clients
    • Not asking the right questions during the customer life cycle
    • Not targeting a specific demographic
    • Failing to stay organized
    • Failing to maintain professional boundaries
    • Overwhelming the client with far too much information
    ISSA Nutritionist Chapter 13: Business in Nutrition Coaching 2
    ISSA Nutritionist Chapter 13: Business in Nutrition Coaching 3
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