The food we consume has an immense impact on our lives. Most people recognise this and want to eat healthier. However, with so much generalised information out there, it can be hard for people to determine what the best diet is for them

If you’re a nutritionist and deep down inside, you know you can be part of a solution to this problem, then starting a nutrition consulting business might be something that’s calling out to you. If so, then great! You could really be helping others lead healthier, longer lives. 

But before you jump in and start mapping out meal plans for your clients, it’s important to take care of your business’s health foremost. That way, you’ll be in the best position to invest your time into your clients, without worrying about the legal stuff. 

What Is A Nutrition Consultant And What Do They Do? 

So, what exactly is a nutritionist? 

As a general definition, a nutritionist is someone that provides advice on matters related to food and health. They can work with clients or be involved in research based roles. At times, nutritionists tend to get confused with dieticians. Even though their job descriptions overlap, it’s important to know the difference. 

Nutritionist vs Dietician 

Dieticians are recognised as part of the healthcare industry. They can work in a hospital setting or outside of them, helping patients manage their illness or overall health through the food they consume. As dieticians are part of the healthcare industry, they are regulated pretty strictly. In order to become a dietician in Australia, you need to have a degree in dietetics and be approved to practice. 

How Do You Become A Nutrition Consultant? 

Even though all dieticians are nutritionist, a nutritionist isn’t necessarily a dietician (unless they have the proper qualifications). In Australia, being a nutritionist isn’t a legally regulated practice. That means, there’s no specific qualification a nutritionist needs to attain or approval for practice to be considered a one. A nutritionist isn’t allowed to provide medical advice or perform procedures that could be considered medical either.  

Despite the lack of regulation, if you’re thinking of starting a nutrition consulting business then it’s important to have certain qualifications and experience. Advising people on health related matters (even if it is limited to nutrition) isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Plus, clients are more likely to see someone that has demonstrated they know what they’re talking about, rather than a person who decided to be a nutritionist the night before. Therefore, it’s important to see what courses you can take and experiences you can gain, prior to starting your nutrition consulting business.    

How To Start A Nutrition Consulting Business

When you think you’ve got the necessary knowledge and experience, then you can move ahead with actually starting your own nutrition consulting business. The first thing you’ll need to do is register your business after picking a legal structure for it. 

Business owners tend to register their business either as a sole trader or a company. Both legal structures are very distinct, so here’s a few things you should know about them before you decide which one works for you. 

Sole trader: 

  • Quick registration process- you just need to go online and get an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • If your not using your personal name, then you will need to Register A Business Name
  • Once registration is complete, the business is relatively low maintenance 
  • As the owner of the business, you will be personally liable for all aspects of it 

Company:

  • Registering as a Company is a longer process as it requires compliance with ASIC regulations 
  • You will need to attain and ABN and an ACN (Australian Company Number) 
  • After registration, you will need to comply with annual reporting requirements plus other company upkeep duties
  • The company will be a legal entity on its own, meaning your liability will be limited 

The legal structure of your nutrition consulting business will set the foundations for its success. Therefore, it’s important that your registration process is done perfectly (our legal experts are happy to help). We’ve answered the difference between a sole trader and company in more depth here. Alternatively, you can chat with one of our legal experts to get some advice tailored just for you. 

What Do I Need To Start A Nutrition Consulting Business In Australia? 

After picking out the right legal structure for your business, your next step is to get strong legal agreements drafted and signed where necessary. Your nutrition consulting business’s legal agreements are what is going to keep your business protected while you work on running the show. Here’s a few legal agreements you might want to consider getting for your consultancy business.  

Consultancy Agreement

A Consultancy Agreement sets out the relationship between a consultant and their client. It addresses important things like payment, scope of work, duties and responsibilities of each party. That way, everyones on the same page and allows less room for misunderstandings. 

Business Terms and Conditions 

A lot of Business Owners like to have Business Terms and Conditions in place. This agreement sets out some rules and boundaries for anyone (not just clients) that are choosing to engage with your business. Having terms and conditions in place can help protect your business’s liabilities and interest, so it’s worth getting one. 

Customer Contracts  

Customer Contracts can be customised to suit your business’s unique needs. Prior to doing business with a customer, it’s important to make sure you’ve agreed on all matters, big and small. It’s best to do this in writing, that way you have something to look back on.  

The exact legal agreements you’ll need for your nutrition consultancy business will depend on your unique business requirements. You may need just one or a few of those that we mentioned. Talk to a legal expert to see what’s right for your business. 

How To Start An Online Nutrition Consulting Business 

It’s pretty common for business owners to operate their business online, entirely or partially. Being online is not only convenient, it can also open your nutrition consultancy business to a wider customer base. If you’re thinking about starting your nutrition consulting business online, then you’ll need to go through the same registration process as an in-person business. 

When it comes to the legal documents however, there are a few additional legal agreements you should look into getting in order to manage the risks of operating online. We’ve listed a few below: 

Privacy Policy: A privacy policy lets users know what is being done with their data. According to Australian privacy regulations, a business is legally required to have a privacy policy on their website if they collect any kind of information from its users.  

Data Breach Notification: Sometimes, things can go wrong. The best thing you can do is be prepared and have an effective response to the issue. A data breach notification helps notify all the relevant parties in case of a data breach. 

Privacy Consent Form: As a consulting business, you will likely be receiving some private and even sensitive information about your clients. It’s important to have your clients permission when you store this information as data, so they can be fully aware of the risks and make an informed decision.

As we noted, operating a business online comes with a separate set of risks. Chatting with a legal expert in Data and Privacy can help identify which risks will be specific to your nutrition consulting business. That way, you’ll be able to prepare for them. 

Legal Tips For Your Nutrition Consulting Business

There’s a few other legal considerations you need to be aware of so you can operate your nutrition consulting business in the most legally appropriate manner. These regard your business’s intellectual property (IP) and consumer laws- all extremely crucial aspects of running a business- keep reading to know more.  

Getting Your IP Sorted

Intellectual property are the intangible assets your business will own. For example, a business logo, video’s or other informative content you might put out there can all be considered IP. Protecting your IP is essential, as you don’t want someone else using what’s yours without your permission. 

The legal protection you’ll need to seek out will depend on the specific type of IP you’re looking to protect. A logo can always be Trade Marked, however other types of IP may need specific legal documentation to keep it secured. It’s always best to talk to an IP Expert to see what your options are and let them help you protect your business’s IP assets. 

Become Familiar With The ACL 

As the owner of a nutrition consulting business, you will need to treat your clients in accordance with Australian Consumer Law (ACL) obligations. Essentially, the ACL ensures that consumers (and small businesses like yours) aren’t taken advantage of and are attended to fairly. The ACL forbids actions that deceive consumers or engage in unfair practices. To learn more about your duties and rights under the ACL, chat with one of our Consumer Law Experts

Next Steps 

Starting a nutrition consulting business is an exciting venture, however it’s important to protect your business by taking care of all the legal considerations. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Nutrition consultants provide advice on food and health matters
  • They are different from dieticians, who are part of the healthcare industry and require specific qualifications
  • In Australia, being a nutritionist is not legally regulated, but qualifications and experience are essential
  • Registering your nutrition consulting business involves choosing a legal structure (e.g., sole trader or company)
  • Sole traders require an ABN, while companies must comply with ASIC regulations and have an ABN and ACN
  • Legal agreements such as Consultancy Agreements, Business Terms and Conditions, and Customer Contracts are important for protection
  • Starting an online nutrition consulting business follows a similar registration process but requires additional legal agreements like a Privacy Policy, Data Breach Notification, and Privacy Consent Form
  • Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is crucial and specific legal protection depends on the type of IP
  • Comply with Australian Consumer Law (ACL) obligations to ensure fair treatment of clients
  • Seek legal expertise to navigate these considerations and protect your nutrition consulting business

If you would like a consultation on starting a nutrition consulting business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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