If you want to learn how to start a supplement company you can launch in the next few months, then you’re in luck. In the U.S, the supplement market is a whopping $128 BILLION industry that keeps growing at breakneck speed.
How much do supplement companies make individually?
Well, some make up to $1 billion on their own. Others make even more.
That’s a whole lot of opportunity. One that requires a smart, supplement company business plan specific to your needs so you can maximize your chances of success.
Here’s the best part…
This supplement company business plan isn’t going to be a 100 point checklist about trademarking your brand name or signing up for a business bank account. You can worry about those things once you’re actually making some money.
Instead, you’re going to discover how to start a supplement company the right way, with the EXACT steps you need to launch a brand new supplement line at a profit.
The same steps used by brands like Onnit, Moon Juice, and RedCon1 to start.
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Supplement Company?
The short answer is, “it depends”.
The long answer is that it can vary wildly. That’s because in ecommerce, there are a lot of moving parts that when changed, can mean the difference between a profitable supplement business and one that loses money.
But generally speaking…
If you’re starting a private label supplement brand, it can cost as little as $300-$500.
If you’re creating a unique formulation, it can cost anywhere between $10,000-$20,000.
This is assuming you’re only starting with one product. It also only includes the product and none of the other things you’re going to need to consider.
Things such as…
Number of SKUs
However, the point remains the same. You can start a private label supplement brand while on a bootstrapped budget. That’s because private label means using existing stock formulations that are easy and cheap to make. If you want a unique formulation, which is very important for long-term success, you’re going to need some real money to get that off the ground.
In either case though, the launch process remains the same.
So let’s talk about that…
Step 1: Nail Your Niche
The biggest mistake most up-and-coming supplement business owners make when starting their new venture is thinking about the product first. But products don’t sell themselves. People buy products. And they only buy products they need.
So the 1st thing you should figure out WHO is going to buy your product.
In addition, you also want to make sure it’s not just any audience. Ideally, you want to target a tight-knit “tribe” of people who are underserved. In other words, you want to avoid just saying “I want to help people who want to build muscle”. That’s like half of the fitness population and there are tons of supplements for them already.
In business, especially supplement businesses, small is better.
Another variation of this exercise is to focus on underserved problems.
Late night snacking
Vegan muscle building
And if you really want to learn how to start a supplement company properly, you should actually combine both methods together.
Biohackers with chronic stress
Vegans with few protein sources
Students with brain fog
This is the most important part of the process. So take the time to brain dump as many possible options that interest you. Then just use process of elimination to end up with the niche you want to target.
Step #2: Build A Loyal, Hungry Audience
The next biggest mistake new supplement business owners make is thinking they’ll just be able to throw up some Facebook ads and money will start pouring in. Except, it’s the opposite that actually happens. The reality is actually much darker and frustrating.
At the beginning, your profit margins are tight, your AOV is low, you have no customer data, you have little to no social proof, and more. This doesn’t mean you can’t fix all of these problems. Neither does it mean Facebook ads won’t work. But if you want to maximize the chance for success and have the money to re-invest so you can fix those problems, then you need to work on building an audience with content.
This means TikTok, Youtube, Facebook groups, newsletters…etc
Then, start producing content based on what you did in step #1.
So if you decided you’re going to create a nootropic for students, you want to start a Youtube channel that gives students mental health and performance tips. You want to be the premier media company on your specific niche. I recommend you do this for at least 3 months before launching.
The point is that you don’t want to be the next MusclePharm.
You want to be the next Men’s Health Magazine that sells its own brand of supplements.
One amazing example of this in action is Bulletproof. When Dave Asprey started, he first started by spending years blogging about biohacking. Then when he decided to launch Bulletproof Coffee, he was able to make tons of sales with the audience he had built up over the prior years.
Till this day, Bulletproof rakes in millions in sales from that blog.
Step 3: Develop A Best Selling Product
Once you have an audience, you can worry about actually making money.
To this right though, you can’t just “put something out there”. I mean, you can. However, the supplement market is one of the most competitive industries in the world and the marketers who work in the supplement industry are some of the best as well. Not to mention that supplements are one of the most regulated categories and for good reason.
So you have to launch a supplement that’s differentiated, economically viable, and is actually safe to consume.
We’ll talk about safety later.
For now though, let’s focus on differentiated and profitable. Luckily, once you’ve completed the first step, you’re already halfway to completing this step.
What you need to do now is what I call the “best seller strategy”.
The “best seller strategy” starts by you making a list of your top 10 direct competitors. So if you decide to launch a nootropic for entrepreneurs, you want to find 10 competitors who sell nootropics to entrepreneurs. And if you can’t find 10 direct competitors, fill up the list with nootropic brands that look similar to what yours will be.
Then, you want to analyze their “best sellers”.
Many times, stores will allow you to categorize their product line by best sellers. However, if they don’t, you can just add this extension to their URL if they host their online store on Shopify to reach their best sellers page.
From here, you basically look for all of the similarities between everyone’s best sellers. You want to jot down what products are selling best, what are people saying about those products, what feature and benefits are being used to promote that product, you want to see which ones are being promoted with ads, and more.
Finally, you want to make your own theoretical “best sellers” list based on your analysis. Without worrying about any factors besides what people have already show interest in, what are the top 3-5 products you could sell?
And there you have it… a complete supplement line that will sell.
Now pick 1 from that list so you can move on to the next step.
Step 4: Launch Your Supplement Brand
Here we go. We’re now ready for the major leagues.
At this point, you have an audience and a product to sell. All that’s left now is to actually sell that product and make your money. The question is, what’s the best way to go about it?
Fortunately, it’s not complicated.
The first step is to get everything ready for the launch. This means setting up your Shopify store with unique product photography so you can take orders and ship your product. This also means you need to set up a “hot list” of people who are waiting for your brand to launch. Just send your audience to a landing page asking for their email address in exchange for an “early bird” notice of your launch.
Once you do this, it’s go time.
All you need to do from here is to send emails to your list and promote your new supplement. It doesn’t need to be anything crazy either. Just focus on sending 3-4 emails over the course of a week. That will get the job done. As for what email service provider, if you’re wondering whether to use Mailchimp or Klaviyo, I’d pick Klaviyo every single time.
Beyond that, you still have an audience that didn’t sign up to “hot list”.
You also want to promote your product to them.
So if you have a Youtube channel, start promoting your supplement in all of your videos. If you have a blog, start featuring it everywhere. If you had a podcast, start talking about in on every episode.
If you have a big enough audience, you’ll make plenty of sales.
Most other “how to start a supplement company” guides will tell you worry about ads. But for now, you just want to leverage your audience as much as possible so you profit and have enough left over to order more inventory.
Once you have real sales data, you can worry about ads and other marketing channels like Amazon FBA to diversify your business. Heck, you can even try get on Shark Tank. Anything goes past this phase!
How To Find Supplement Manufacturers
You can’t learn how to start a supplement company without also knowing how you’re going to get your product made in the first place, so let’s talk about this.
There are 3 main ways to find a supplement manufacturer.
The first is through Google. You want to type in keywords like “private label supplements” and “supplement manufacturers”. Then, you want to go through every site and call or email every sales rep possible.
The second is through directories like Thomasnet. In these directories, you can type in the product type you’re trying to make and they’ll list out a bunch of potential manufacturers for you. From there, you want to do your due diligence because these search results can be a little fuzzy.
Last, but not least, it’s through networking. This is where you literally just ask around for potential manufacturers. You can do this in ecommerce related Facebook groups, you can ask the few manufacturers you do find for referrals, and more.
There are 2 important things though…
You don’t want to do business with any supplement manufacturer that is not certified. This primarily means that you want them to be GMP registered. However, any additional certifications should be noted so you know you can trust their products are safe.
The second thing is to understand that it’s a frustrating process.
Many times, you’ll be dealing with manufacturers that ghost you, you’ll realize many can’t do the things you need them too, sometimes the cost is going to throw you off, and more. This is what makes it a grueling process.
With that said, it’s doable.
Just don’t quit.