Q&A: The aesthetics of a successful start-up

This week we chat with Kelly George, founder of the eponymous Kelly George Aesthetics. A registered nurse by trade who had worked as an educator in the aesthetics industry, Kelly took the plunge three years ago and opened her own clinic in Tamworth that has already attracted a loyal clientele from a far-reaching catchment area.

ISB: What was the driving force behind the founding of Kelly George Aesthetics?

KG: I’d been in the beauty industry for a while and took a contract role for a multi-franchise clinic as their business development manager. I hated their philosophy. Client retention wasn’t important. Client satisfaction wasn’t important. To them it was a numbers game, and if they had the numbers to fill the books, it didn’t matter if they never saw the same person twice. I wanted to offer the complete opposite to my patients. After working for a few other aesthetics clinics, I realised I would need to start my own practice before I could put the patient before the bottom-line!

ISB: Having started out in the industry in marketing and events, what extra training did you need to undertake before starting your own business?

KG: I had to go back to University and complete a nursing degree. You can’t administer cosmetic injectables in Australia (and rightly so) unless you are a doctor or a nurse. There is also further post-graduate training required, and due to the ever-changing landscape of this industry, I attend multiple conferences each year to stay at the forefront of new technologies and techniques.

ISB: How did you fund the establishment of the clinic and its early stages of operation?

KG: I started my business with $60,000. I borrowed $30,000 from the bank. The other $30,000 was everything we had been saving for our house deposit – luckily my husband had faith in my business plan!

ISB: And what about marketing – how did you get your early customers on board?

KG: This industry is fascinating to a lot of people (even those who never thought they would venture into this world), so in the early stages I ran regular educational evenings. Pairing champagne and canapes with information about treatments is always a winner. In fact, still to this day, I favour educational pieces to promote our services rather than traditional advertising.

ISB: I understand you have a very high customer retention rate – how have you achieved this?

KG: My philosophy is that “great skin is achieved through science, not marketing gimmicks”. I understand the science behind the skin conditions presented, and I use science to treat the condition. This ensures results. Results equal happy clients! I also provide a really accepting environment. I know my clients feel comfortable and welcome at Kelly George Aesthetics.

ISB: Finally, what key piece of advice would you give to someone with an idea they’d like to turn into a business of their own?

KG: If you’re passionate about it, be brave and do it! But not before you’ve invested LOTS of planning time. Make sure you have a business plan, a marketing plan, a financial forecast and do your due diligence.

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