Dietitians are adept at promoting a patient-centered approach with a team of health care professionals. When it comes to business, a care team is equally important. Who has your business’ best interest in mind when making decisions?
Lawyers, accountants, and financial planners make up a business care team. Lawyers determine the best entity for your business model while creating documentation. Accountants handle money matters, prepare tax documentation, and identify tax deductions. Many RDs recommend hiring a bookkeeper to manage financial documentation for the accountant. Financial planners help with initial business financing and managing income. If you’re self-employed, a financial planner can assist with retirement planning.
When To Establish It
It’s important to engage care team members early in the business life cycle. The following dietitians currently in business varied their timelines.
Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN, of Living Plate engaged all of these professionals six months before opening her private practice.
Angie Asche, MS, RD, LMNT, of Eleat Sports Nutrition, LLC, started working with a lawyer before opening her private practice to ensure she was doing everything correctly and to establish an LLC. Asche added an accountant and financial advisor after her first year.
Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD, of Rebecca Bitzer & Associates: REBEL Dietitians admits to not involving a lawyer soon enough. She brought on an accountant one year into the business and a financial planner after five years.
Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD, of Lively Table waited until her business started making money to hire a care team.
Care Team Benefits
Trust and peace of mind are two of the most cited benefits of creating a business care team. A care team enables dietitian coach Chere Bork, MS, RDN, to focus on “growing my business and serving clients instead of challenges I’m not even sure how to solve.” Petrucci’s care team assisted with development of processes, business goals, and measurement tactics while reducing risk factors.
Dietitians rarely receive business education while in school. Bitzer says, “Just as RDNs do nutrition best, lawyers do law best, [and] accountants do accounting best. We need to let go of the idea that we can do it all, because we cannot, especially as we grow.”
Bork echoes this sentiment. “RDNs need to use their strengths and do what they are good at, which is helping others with nutrition. We weren’t trained in accounting and law. We have no time to research it all. I have saved tons of money and taxes because of being set up as a S Corp, which I would not have done if I had not hired my accountant and attorney after they looked over my business.”
Cost of Care
One of the biggest areas of hesitation in hiring outside professionals is cost. Petrucci recommends building these expenses into start-up costs. Both Asche and McMordie feel confident their investment outweighs risk potential. “If you are spending your time doing nutrition, which is your skill set, you will have more money for the other professionals to do what they do best. Using professionals wisely will ultimately save you time, money, and stress,” Bitzer says.
Kristi Coughlin, MS, RDN, LDN, of KC Nutrition LLC, has experience working with both an online legal service and a lawyer directly. While the cost of hiring a lawyer may seem intimidating, Coughlin says personalized approach, direct access, and understanding of local laws far outweighs cost savings.
Investing in your care team during the planning stages is “preventive” business care. It will save time and money vs “reactive” business care, which is more costly. As we tell our clients: Don’t wait for a problem to create a solution! Bork says, “There are only 3 ‘D’s to a nutrition entrepreneur’s life: Do it, dump it, or delegate it.”
— Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT, is the owner of Team with ME: Nutrition & Fitness Consulting, a communications and corporate wellness company on the Jersey Shore. She’s the creator and author of the couples’ nutrition blog Nutrition Nuptials. A former advertising executive, Mandy combines her business expertise with nutrition knowledge to assist colleagues in building their businesses through branding, advertising, and relationship skills. Learn more about Mandy at www.mandyenright.com, and follow her on social media @mandyenrightRD.