How to start an aesthetic business and be successful
Dr Tim Pearce is regularly asked about starting a business in the aesthetic sector. The short answer is that it is quite simple to get started as there is little red tape to cut through in the UK. More importantly, he thinks the question ought to be rephrased to answer how you can set up a SUCCESSFUL business in the aesthetic sector, ensuring that it is primed to thrive.
In this blog, Dr Tim will share the advice that he would now give to his 28-year-old self when he was starting up and growing his successful aesthetic clinic business.
Dr Tim will be discussing more medical aesthetic training tips as part of his upcoming webinar series, so if you’re looking to increase your CPD-certified learning and want to learn more skills to make you a better clinician, then step one is to register for the free webinars by Dr Tim.
How easy is it to set up an aesthetic business?
To set yourself up with a business in the aesthetic sector, you need very little as a basic starting point, if we take it on face value.
You can get going once you have a certificate confirming you have attended training in cosmetic injectables (essentially learning where to inject), and can then start to offer treatments to the public – usually starting with friends and family, and branching out into advertising on social media, in local buy and sell groups etc. Getting stock is easy thanks to a myriad of online suppliers, and insurance is available (if you want to bother), and then it is just a case of finding somewhere to meet your customers – this could be anywhere from local hotels, salons, or even a converted camper van! When you meet your client, you can deliver the injections they have requested, take payment, and hope to do the same again in a few months’ time.
This may sound a little tongue in cheek, but as Dr Tim points out, amazingly, in the UK there are no entry requirements to operating and providing injectables in the aesthetic sector. We have an incredible situation whereby aesthetic training providers are targeting their training towards people with no formal, statutory educational qualifications – or even a basic ability to read and write – let alone having any medical qualifications; and there is no statutory legislation to stop it.
The underlying point to this is that there really is no difficulty for aesthetic clinicians to get started with setting up and running a business within the aesthetic sector; anyone can do it, but how to do you do it right so you can thrive in medical aesthetics?
How do you build a successful aesthetic clinic business?
This starts with your business strategy – how are you going to add value to the marketplace?
Broadly speaking there are a limited number of ways that any business can survive – when you start out, you will inadvertently choose one of these paths because every business is competing, either to be the cheapest, the most convenient, or the best in a particular domain.
Many of the people who take the ‘low bar’ approach to medical aesthetics naturally end up competing on price because the training is so basic, the practitioner feels they have limited value to offer so they look for ways to be cheaper instead, competing on convenience and trying to decrease the price. In any given location, there will always be one business that is cheaper than all the rest, and for those consumers who are price driven, this is the best provider in town. Of course, in the same town, there are customers whose focus does not centre around saving money or time, and it is within this part of the market that Dr Tim believes the greatest variety of successful businesses will survive because there are so many ways to compete beyond time and money.
Starting with this approach begins with having empathy for your potential patients, discovering their hopes and fears. Once you understand your target market, you can compete at being the best to alleviate their fears, and to help them attain their hopes.
Starting to care for your potential patients – they are not just on your treatment conveyor belt – will mean that you can be successful with this approach. You will make better decisions if you truly ‘love’ your patients. Grown your practice from the point of view of wanting the best for your patients – when you care you aim high with everything you do and that provides real value back to them.
However, this will not be an immediate path to success, it takes time. When you are just starting out, you will no doubt be much more focused on your own insecurities, often seeking reinforcement and support from peers, mentors, trainers etc. to increase your confidence and reaffirm that setting up your business was the right thing to do.
Sometimes, it can feel a bit like the school playground where emotions run high and friends and critics, support and compete in equal measure. This can make you fearful of your ability to deliver results for your patients and cause you to worry about rejection and the judgement of your colleagues, leading to imposter syndrome. All of this can be a huge distraction and you may find yourself putting your energies into fortifying yourself against critics and managing feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, when ultimately these are irrelevant to your patients.
Chasing reinforcement of your worth and success, usually self-imposed, until you feel you have ‘arrived’ – some look towards awards, further qualifications, or a shiny new clinic – can all be a common part of the journey for many before they finally relax and start focusing on their patients (to implement the correct business strategy).
What do your patients really need from you?
The bedrock of medical aesthetics in trust. To demonstrate this, you must master:
- Competence – understand the problems and the solutions, educate your patients, and create tailor-made treatment plans to resolve their problems,
- Integrity – if you genuinely want the best for your patients this should come across naturally in your communication, but it is wise to make it abundantly clear to patients, be honest and learn ways to help them to help themselves by saying no sometimes or budgeting for the best treatment plan,
- Emotional safety – if you have empathy for your patients, you will already understand their underlying emotional battles, but they need to feel safe to open up to you and to share their insecurities.
Dr Tim notes that in an aesthetic sector that has become dominated by airbrushed photos and meaningless awards, he has realised that the best aesthetic practitioners are those who demonstrate authenticity – they are on the side of their patients, want the best for them, and upskill to help, not just to sell.
Unfortunately, many of these practitioners do not know how to let their potential patients know about the value that they have to offer, so he urges practitioners to ensure that their marketing catches up with the skills they are developing to benefit their patients.
How to successfully market your clinic business in the aesthetic sector?
A business can only survive if it sells something, and you cannot sell without marketing.
If you have identified your customer base and have established empathy with them, then you already know how to target your marketing. Your goal is to build a system to generate a predictable stream of new patients.
There are multiple ways to achieve this – a weekly column in a local magazine, social media posts including live engagement, or through affiliated businesses. Your goal is to get their attention and to build trust. You can achieve this by being real and genuine, no one likes a fake or to feel tricked, then you can build trust by educating, informing, and guiding with the content that you share. Remember, be you, be unique, and do not just try to emulate everyone else, because that will just make you invisible. People buy from people, so your uniqueness is a benefit to your business.
Do not forget to make them an offer to seal the deal – you would be surprised how many forget this part – ensure you have a call to action along the lines of getting them to book in for a free consultation. If you believe in the products and procedures that you offer and their ability to help your patient, it becomes a much more natural process to sell.
Once you get your messages out there and you start to get a response, the final part to this successful marketing strategy is to rinse and repeat and iterate as you progress – keep improving your skills, your understanding of your patients, and the number of problems that you can solve, establish the best routes to getting their attention, to build trust faster, and to get them into your clinic to see you.
For more advice, why not get a copy of Dr Tim’s guide on 5 steps to create a successful aesthetics business. If you need help with creating a proven, step-by-step marketing method that attracts a steady stream of dream customers booking in for aesthetic treatments, then find out more about the Dream Customer Attraction Method from expert marketing advisor, Miranda Pearce.
If you have more advice to add yourself or any further questions for Dr Tim on setting up a business in aesthetics, then why not let him know on social media – drop a comment to Dr Tim Pearce on Instagram.
Aesthetics Mastery Show
Why you do NOT have to compete on price in aesthetics
This blog follows our recent Aesthetics Mastery Show, in which Dr Tim Pearce explains his experience of starting an aesthetics business. The truth is, in the UK there aren’t many hurdles to overcome at the start up phase. Watch the full Aesthetics Mastery Show below.
Join the debate!
The show has had a number of comments already – you can join in by leaving your comments below or on our YouTube channel
“Thank you so much for being such an excellent educator and raising the bar for aesthetics. I have worked in emergency medicine for 15 years and now have a private clinic and have added on aesthetics. I love procedures and missed performing them in private practice. But, I never felt trained until I watched your courses. FINALLY – medical science, pharmacology, and anatomy review for a medical ‘aesthetic’ procedure.”
“Love this. 10 years later in my own private practice this rings sooooo true. Thanks as always Dr. Tim (and Miranda) :)”
“Thank you for sharing Dr Tim! Refreshingly honest with integrity. Love before and after pictures by the way, you look great!”
Are you still anxious about delivering cosmetic injectables safely?
If you want to learn more about mastering medical aesthetic treatments and complications or conquering the anxiety of where to place your needle, then register for the next Dr Tim webinar.
Dr Tim Pearce eLearning
Dr Tim Pearce MBChB BSc (Hons) MRCGP founded his eLearning concept in 2016 in order to provide readily accessible BOTOX® and dermal filler online courses for fellow Medical Aesthetics practitioners. His objective was to raise standards within the industry – a principle which remains just as relevant today.
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