April Kavanagh is the founder of NurseCare, a business that marries two of her passions – nursing and beauty therapy. This is how she started and grew her business.
In the beginning
When I was filling out my CAO form, I told my mother I wanted to be a beauty therapist, and she convinced me to be a nurse. So, after my four-year degree, four years as a scrub nurse in theatre and, two years doing a HDip in Midwifery, I found a way of marrying my love of beauty and aesthetics and nursing.
I got a job working in The Ailesbury Clinic under Dr Patrick Treacy. This was the beginning. I knew I could offer more of myself if I were out on my own. I knew I had an aesthetic eye and I have an excellent bedside manner. After my wedding, I bit the bullet and put every penny of our wedding present into funding my venture.
“After my wedding, I bit the bullet and put every penny of our wedding present into funding my venture.”
The trials of business planning
My business plan was a giant convoluted mess in which I spent about a month banging my head against a wall. It was full of self-doubt and fear of failure. There was one reason for this; I am a nurse. I had no business background except for an eight-week accounting module in the fourth year in school. I then met with a very sound minded businesswoman in Partas in Tallaght, and she advised me to pare it right back and look at the essentials and what market I was to target.
I am my USP. That is not meant to sound conceited, but when I am in a room with a client, nothing else matters but my client. I genuinely care about the people who are putting their trust in me. Peoples’ faces are their introduction to the world, it’s an honour to be entrusted with such a huge responsibility, and it’s not one I take lightly.
“I think it is incredibly hard to be an entrepreneur in Ireland, the main reason for me is tax and VAT. It kills businesses, making them nearly unviable.”
My advice on starting a business in the cosmetic industry in Ireland
I would first get a medical degree, nurse, doctor or dentist and then I would get as much experience as possible. I worked under an incredibly talented cosmetic doctor who would not let me finish a day without a Q&A session of some kind that would scare the life out of anyone. I needed to know my stuff. The courses will only teach you the basics. Skill and practice under guidance are the most valuable tools.
My expansion plans
My Tallaght clinic is expanding in size which I am beyond excited about, and I’m always open to learning new treatments to bring to my clients, so I’m sure we’ll have new skin treatments in 2018.
I used to advertise a lot on Facebook, but I find now, word of mouth keeps me busy.
Did I always want to be an entrepreneur?
I have always had a good work ethic, but I hated being an employee, feeling like I was being watched or I was in trouble the whole time. So for me going out on my own was a serious ‘lightbulb and jump in with both feet’ moment. I decided to try to be self-sufficient and registered my company that same week.
“People don’t set up their businesses because they’re lazy, they set them up to succeed and pulling a safety net away from someone who has put everything on the line is unfair in my eyes.”
My biggest mentor at the start was my husband. He is an electrician with his own business, Smart Sparks. He has been in business five years, and so he was perfect for little ideas here and there to get my name out there. We obviously have an entirely different client base and therefore a different way of advertising. His Facebook page would not be as active as mine his phone never stops.
My biggest achievement in business to date?
I think it has to be my award which took me by surprise. My amazing clients voted for me, and I won the award for Best Cosmetic Clinic In Ireland 2017.
What more needs to be done to support entrepreneurs?
To be honest, I think it is incredibly hard to be an entrepreneur in Ireland, the main reason for me is tax and VAT. It kills businesses, making them nearly unviable. People are under the assumption that I am worth a fortune because of what I do and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Once I pay my tax and VAT, I struggle to justify the stress. I genuinely do this job for the love of it.
I think that business owners should be able to avail of social welfare if sick, pregnant or if they have an abysmal business week. I think the ban on claiming social welfare for two years after a company fails is awful. People don’t set up their businesses because they’re lazy, they set them up to succeed and pulling a safety net away from someone who has put everything on the line is unfair in my eyes.
About my business
NurseCare is a mobile cosmetic skin clinic run by nurses. It holds several clinics in various beauty and hair salons around Ireland. The business specialises in all skin types, in reducing the signs of ageing, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, dry skin, fine lines, skin rejuvenation, acne and male and female hair loss.
Article by Barry Walsh.