Baby boomers are the largest part of the population worldwide and thus control the greatest amount of money. As they get older they will become more and more concerned about their health, making the health and wellness business one of the fastest-growing industries there is. So, starting a vitamin business can be a lucrative venture, but there a few different ways to do it.
Jump-starting the business
Start from scratch. This is the hardest way to do it. You will need to source your own products from distributors, develop your own advertising campaigns and marketing materials, find a space, and develop your own brand. Starting from scratch will probably cost $50,000 to $100,000 depending on the neighborhood you build your business in. The U.S. Small Business Administration is a good place to start finding out which types of permits you need to get started and which types of loans are available. You can get more information at the SBA website.
Buy an existing vitamin store. This is a much easier way to start your business, because the store will bring with it an existing client base and will be generating a cash flow already. If the store is successful, much of the work will have been done for you. Some of the things you'll want to look for are a mailing list, existing advertising campaigns, some training by the owner beforehand, existing signage and growth in the area. Two online sites where you can look for existing businesses for sale are BizBuySell and MergerNetwork.
Get a franchise (see References). There are a lot of franchise businesses available these days, including Berry Brook Farms, Discount Sport Nutrition and GNC. As of 2009, they start at $80,000 to $200,000. Because franchises are based on an existing successful business model, their failure rate generally is lower than non-franchise businesses. In addition to start-up costs, you will pay a portion of your profits to the franchise company, along with an annual membership fee. Both of these fees will vary widely from company to company. In return, the franchise company will provide you with products, ongoing training, signage, marketing materials, advertising campaigns and uniforms.
Build a network marketing business. This can be done with companies like Usana or Herbalife. By purchasing a kit costing $100 to $250 (as of 2009) you will get DVDs, marketing materials and training. In addition to selling vitamins, you will be encouraged to recruit other people into the business. They will become your downline: As they bring other people in, you will make money off everything they sell and everything their people sell as well. The advantages of this business are that the start-up costs are low and there is little risk. You also have very little overhead other than marketing costs because you run the business out of your home.
Go online. There are turnkey businesses that provide websites already stocked with products and payment solutions. One, MyPerfectSites.com, builds online vitamin businesses. It will build your website, host it, provide a domain name, and tie it into vitamin vendors at such companies as eBay and Amazon. All you have to do is market your site; when somebody makes a purchase, the site will take them to the vendor, where the order will be fulfilled. This is probably the simplest way to start a vitamin business if you just want to test the waters. As of 2009, a site with MyPerfectSites.com costs $99 to start.