Thanks in part to the pandemic, people today are more health-conscious than ever before. This explains why the US supplement market is seeing lightning-fast growth and already worth $35 billion. You could launch your own supplement business, grab a share of the market, and make a good living while improving lives. Even if you’ve never worked in this area before, you can do some research on formulating supplements and come up with a product that helps people meet their health goals.
Of course, starting a supplement business will require diligence, and it will take time. It’s best to first get some knowledge on the industry and on starting a business, and this step-by-step guide is chock-full of insight on how to develop and launch your business and boldly begin your entrepreneurial journey.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and cons
Starting a supplement business has pros and cons that you should weigh before deciding if the business is right for you.
- Good money – Profit margins are high in the supplement market
- Growing Industry – Demand is increasing for vitamins and dietary supplements
- Work from Home – You can work from home selling your supplements online
- Improve Lives — Provide products that make people stronger, healthier
- Competition – Increasingly saturated market as health-consciousness grows
- Regulations – Licensing and labeling requirements can be onerous
Supplement industry trends
The US supplement industry grew nearly 15% in 2020 due to increased health consciousness driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing a new supplement with vitamin B, omega 3s, and bilberry extract that aims to improve cognitive health and curb memory loss, research firm Coherent Market Insights expects the global brain health supplement market to see nearly 9% annual growth through 2027.
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – Market analyst IBISWorld values the US supplement industry at more than $37 billion, after a steady growth over the past decade. The market has grown by an average of 1.6% annually since 2017.
- Growth forecast – The dietary supplements market in North America, which is dominated by the US, is projected to grow at least 5% per year through 2028.
- Number of businesses – There are nearly 1,400 vitamin and supplement manufacturers in the US.
- Number of people employed – More than 43,000 people are employed in this industry.
Trends and challenges
Trends that shape the supplements industry are:
- Rising incidence of Alzheimer’s, depression, and anxiety is driving demand for supplements that provide mental health support and stress relief
- Strong demand for supplements that contain collage peptides, support immunity such as Vitamin D, and taste good, such as fruit-flavored gummy vitamins
- Growing awareness about health, fitness, and sports nutrition
Challenges faced by the supplement industry include:
- Compliance with stringent regulations on labeling and claims of health benefits
- Competition from lower-priced botanicals imported from China
- Lack of information on the proper and safe use of supplements
- Average consumer spend – An average American consumer spends $68.30 on supplements every month.
- Potential customer base – An ADM report in 2021 says 79% of Americans believe dietary supplements are important to their health.
- Average prices – The Nature Made brand sold its supplements in 2019 at an average of $10.88 per bottle.
What kind of people work in a supplements business?
- Gender – 84% of nutritionists in the US are female, while 16% are male.
- Average level of education – 65% of nutritionists hold a bachelor’s degree.
- Average age – The average age of a nutritionist is 43 years old.
How much does it cost to start a supplement business?
Startup costs for a supplement company range from $7,500 to $15,000 or more. The main cost is the manufacturing of your first products, so you might start with a small quantity to keep costs low. But keep in mind that most manufacturers have a minimum order amount.
|Startup Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Setting up a business name and corporation||$150 - $200||$175
|Licenses and permits||$100 - $300||$200
|Insurance ||$100 - $300||$200
|Business cards and brochures||$200 - $300||$250
|Website setup||$1,000 - $3,000||$2,000
|Initial inventory||$5,000 - $10,000||$7,500
|Professional labeling||$300 - $500||$400
|Initial marketing budget||$500 - $1,000||$750
|Total||$7,350 - $15,600||$11,475
How much can you earn from a supplement business?
The average price of a bottle of supplements is about $8 and you can expect a profit margin of around 75% when you’re working out of your home.
In your first year or two, you could work from home and sell 10,000 bottles in a year, bringing in $80,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $60,000 in profit, assuming that 75% margin. As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 50,000 bottles a year. At this stage, you would rent out a production facility and hire staff, reducing your margin to 40%. With expected annual revenue of $400,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $160,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
- Competition in a very saturated market
- Finding a manufacturer willing to accept a small order
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a supplement business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research other supplement businesses to examine their products, price points, customer reviews, and what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the market is missing a multivitamin combined with a brain health supplement. Or maybe as Covid-19 lingers people are looking for new immunity-boosting supplements.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry such as beauty supplements.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
You should research and create a formula based on the type of supplements you plan to offer. Start by learning the benefits of various vitamins and minerals.
You could also offer custom supplements. Some manufacturers, like Nutracap Labs, have an in-house team of professionals that formulates supplements based on customer goals.
How much should you charge for supplements?
The average price for a bottle of supplements is about $8, but mineral and beauty supplements are often priced a little higher, averaging $11. You might offer a variety of products at several price points.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be health-conscious people in general, but it will also depend on what type of supplements you decide to offer. If you decide on beauty-related supplements your target market will probably be women 30 and older, so you can most likely find them on Facebook.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on Craigslist, Crexi, and Commercial Cafe.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “supplements” or “beauty supplements”, boosts SEO
- Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to supplement businesses.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your supplement business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Angel investors: Reach out to your entire network in search of people interested in investing in early-stage startups in exchange for a stake. Established angel investors are always looking for good opportunities.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a supplement business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a supplement business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.
Your products will be subject to the requirements of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and the FDA. Your manufacturer will make sure that you are in compliance. Your labeling and marketing will be subject to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules. Hiring a professional label company could help you stay in compliance with FTC rules.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your supplement business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You can use industry-specific software, such as Batch Master, Finale Inventory, or Process Pro, to manage your product lines, orders, inventory, and bookkeeping.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Some of your business will come from online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Buy Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as 20% off your first order.
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
- In-Person Sales – Offer your products/services at local markets, trade shows.
- Sponsor events – You can pay to be a sponsor at events that are relevant to your target market.
- Post a video – Post a video about your supplements. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal.
- Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
- Press releases – Do press releases about new products, sales, etc.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Pay-per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
- Influencer marketing – Pay people with large social media followings to promote your supplements. You can find micro-influencers with smaller followings and lower rates.
- Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your supplements helped them.
- Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your supplement business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your supplement business could be:
- Top-quality beauty supplements for your hair, skin, and nails
- Boost your mood with this all-natural supplement
- Elevate your brain function for maximum memory and productivity!
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a supplements business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in supplement manufacturing for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in dietary supplements. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from home, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a supplement business would include:
- Sales Reps – Sell products to retailers or direct to consumer
- Customer Service Reps – Handle customer calls and orders
- Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
The pandemic has sharply increased our health concerns, so it’s no surprise that the $37 billion supplement market in the US is seeing explosive growth. You can get in on the action with a relatively small investment and start making good money fast.
You can specialize in certain types of supplements or create a new line of supplements with your own formulas. But keep in mind that you’ll have to comply with all the relevant regulations and make sure your supplements are safe.
Now that you have the relevant knowledge, you’re ready to embark on your entrepreneurial journey in the supplement business!
Supplement Business FAQs
How much does it cost to start a supplement company?
You can create a formula and have some initial products manufactured for a relatively low cost. You also need business licenses and insurance, a website, and a labeling partner. You should be able to start for as little as $7,500.
How can I get my supplements manufactured?
There are many manufacturers that you can find online but do your homework to choose the best one. You need to find one that will manufacture your formula, is reputable, and will manufacture a small quantity to get you started.
What regulations are involved in a supplement business?
You’re subject to the same regulations that any business is at the federal, state, and local levels, but you also need to comply with the rules of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and the FDA. Your labeling and marketing will be subject to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules.
How can I sell my supplements?
Many people buy supplements online, so that is probably your best bet to get started. As you gain traction, you may be able to get retailers to offer your products as well.