Dietary supplement sales exceeded $26 billion in 2009, according to the "Nutrition Business Journal." Concerns about health care and aging have led to increased sales in nutritional supplements, making it a viable business to start. Starting a dietary supplement company requires planning every aspect of your business from the types of supplements you want to sell to the market you want to sell them to.
Decide what types of dietary supplements you want to sell. Options include vitamins, diet and weight loss supplements and life-enhancing supplements such as those that help mental acuity, improve mood or prevent joint problems. Also decide if you want to sell pills, liquid or bar supplements and if you want them to be herbal or organic.
Find and contract with a supplement manufacturer or wholesale supplier. You can find companies through resources such as the ThomasNet or National Association of Wholesaler-Distributers.
Write a business plan. The plan needs to outline all aspects of your dietary supplement company. Describe the uniqueness of your diet supplements and business strategy. Outline how you'll finance your supplement business as well as income projections.
Gather funding. You can fund your business start-up using money you already have or use your business plan to apply for a business loan through your local bank. Other potential sources of start-up funding include loans through your state or local small business development office or from dietary and nutritional industry associations.
Obtain needed permits and licenses. Contact your city or county business office to apply for a business license. Submit a doing-business-as statement with the county clerk's office if your dietary supplement company name is different from your given name. If your state charges sales tax, apply for a sales tax permit from your state's taxation or comptroller's office.
Establish your sales and distribution model. Viable options for dietary supplement sales and distribution include mail-order, e-commerce, direct sales, storefront or a combination of any of the above. Storefronts require renting space and equipment, which is more expensive than mail-order and e-commerce methods. If you choose mail-order or e-commerce, purchase packaging and labels to ship the supplements to customers.
Apply for a merchant account with your local bank or a merchant account company so you can accept credit and debit card payments.
Create marketing materials and get them in front of your market. Focus your marketing message on how your dietary supplements or business strategies solve a problem for your market. For example, if your supplements are all-natural, let your market know they are natural and safe. Read over the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines on supplement marketing to make sure you abide by its policies. Marketing tactics include advertising, brochures, giving away free samples, writing articles or speaking on health and nutrition and participating in health and wellness trade shows.
Check your state and federal regulations regarding dietary supplement sales to insure you're complying with the laws.
- National Association of Wholesaler-Distributers
- Small Business Association: Writing a Business Plan
- Small Business Association: Loans, Grants & Funding
- Entrepreneur.com: Distribution Models
- Entrepreneur.com; Five Steps to Create a Marketing Plan; Tim Berry; August 2011
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Dietary Supplements; August 2011
Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.