What happens when a global pandemic gets in the way of your plans to set up your own aesthetics business? Do you give up or do you go ahead? I spoke to Dr Lauren Mullan to find out her experience of starting a business during Covid, what she's learnt as a result, and the advice she'd give to others thinking of doing the same thing.
Why I Set up an Aesthetics Business During the Pandemic...And Don't Regret a Thing
Hi Dr Lauren! What was it that led you into aesthetics alongside dentistry?
I set up my clinic in September 2020 in Durham. I really wanted to bring a new element to the dental practise I work in, and offer a wider range of treatments. Before graduating in 2018, I had always considered entering the field of facial aesthetics, as it can be a great compliment to dentistry. In-depth knowledge of face, head, and neck anatomy is essential in my daily role, and I continuously use my technical skillset and professional judgement when assessing symmetry of the face and mouth. Dentistry also has a certain artistic flare to it, and all this lends itself perfectly to aesthetics. Facial aesthetics provides me with an alternative range of treatments than dentistry alone, and the patient interaction, in particular, has been a highlight of the experience to date.
Wow! Starting a business during a global pandemic must have had its challenges. Were you initially worried about how if would affect your new business? And did anyone try to put you off?
Covid-19 created an air of uncertainty around dentistry due to the physical proximity between patient and operator, which is essential to perform procedures. Guidance changed daily and this posed many questions: could we treat? How are we going to protect patients and ourselves? I was very fortunate to be able to work remotely, triaging patients, conducting telephone consultations and, later, working in an urgent care centre.
I had planned to launch the clinic in spring 2020, but this was postponed due to the pandemic, so I used this time to plan a pathway for my business. The lockdown gave me a lot of time to think about how I would set it up, get some branding in place and further research the aesthetics field.
Then, by late summer, aesthetics training was given the go ahead, and I haven't looked back since! (…well until lockdown 2 and 3!)
Luckily, I am surrounded by supportive colleagues and family, so I wasn't deterred. I knew the chance would come and was delighted to begin my training in the summer with Acquisition Aesthetics, so much so, I decided to enrol in the postgraduate Level 7 diploma!
Frustrating that you didn't get to set up when planned, but it's so nice that you had that support network. What were the main challenges you faced when setting up your business?
There were a few things. Firstly, once I was accredited, the next challenge was attracting patients via word-of-mouth and social media. I'm so lucky to work with a lovely group of colleagues who were delighted to have me carry out aesthetics in the practice and were happy to tell their family and friends.
Secondly, after getting into the swing of things, there was then a local lockdown in November. From a business point of view, it was, of course, disappointing. However, with Covid-19 cases rising in the region it was necessary and understandable that non-essential services should be postponed.
Then, December came, and I could provide treatment again. I had bit of a ‘Christmas rush,’ and it was great to get back to providing aesthetic treatments. But with the arrival of the new year came the news of another full national lockdown, with treatments postponed once again. It has been a bit of bumpy road so far…all I can say is roll on April 12th!
Aw I can imagine! It's so nice we have a date to work towards now though! Do you have any regrets about starting your business during the pandemic?
No, I don't have any regrets. It was more of a case of, if not now, when? Lockdown provided me with the time to plan ahead for the business as well as evaluating the most up to date literature on facial aesthetics techniques.
It's great that you were able to use that time so positively. What kept you going in this difficult time?
Work, webinars and walks!
I am fortunate that my job has a huge social aspect and so we have kept each other sane! Over lockdown there has been a huge number of online webinars from well-known figures in the aesthetics world and so this has been great way to learn further information, techniques, and appraise clinical cases. It has also given me time to work through my coursework for the Level 7 diploma. We all know how important it has been to look after our mental wellbeing over the past year, so getting out and exploring the beautiful countryside and coastline in the north east has helped lift the spirits!
Definitely! Hopefully, the wellbeing aspect is something we'll all take away from this. Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance again?
In retrospect, I would have invested in digital software specific to facial aesthetics straight away. This is much easier and convenient than paper records, as well as being better for the environment. – I am in in the process of getting this set up for the big come back!
Awesome! And what advice would you give anyone else starting their own aesthetic business now, who may be feeling a bit worried?
Go for it!
Do your research and pre-reading before embarking on the courses, so you have some background knowledge before attending. Have clients lined up that you can practise on straight after training. Your friends/family/colleagues will be queuing up! Then, I'd say to document and photograph everything (and ensure written consent is gained).
Also, ensure your aesthetics training provider provides post-training support. This is great way for delegates to share cases and learn from one another, as well as have access to experts in the field.
Set up social media to get your name and brand out there. Social media is fast becoming a leading tool for marketing in the field of facial aesthetics. Not only to educate the public and clinicians alike, but it also works like a browsing tool for potential clients. We all know we like to look on a company’s Instagram before enquiring about a service or appointment- rest assured potential clients will check your socials to see your work and what you provide. It is also such a useful and convenient way for clients to contact you.
That's some great advice. What have you been doing to prepare to come back with a bang when the clinic open again?
I have been attending webinars, doing a lot of essential reading, and I've booked on to further courses including tear trough filler training, complications masterclass training as well as several Level 7 mentoring days with the fabulous team at Acquisition Aesthetics. I am feeling very excited and hopeful for the coming months!
I would like to say a special thank you to Glowday for helping me set up my profile. The team could not have been more approachable and helpful.
Aw that's lovely to hear. And thank YOU! We love having you on the platform and are really excited to see your business grow. Thanks for sharing your incredible story, Lauren!
If you, like Dr Lauren, are interested in listing your clinic on Glowday, find out more here or contact our clinic onboarding superstar Leigh on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07376047260