Naturally Bright: James Irwin
James Irwin tells us about setting up a business in teeth whitening
Company name: Naturally Bright
Founders: James Irwin
Staff Numbers: 3
Date started: March 2008
Tell us what your business does
Naturally Bright supplies teeth whitening kits and replenishments which can be used in the comfort of your own home and will whiten your teeth for a fraction of a dental clinic’s cost.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
A few years back I decided to purchase a teeth whitening kit to be used at home. When I originally pursued this I was shocked – poor brand statements, cheap in appearance and cheesy websites. I just thought to myself, there is room for improvement: the Naturally Bright brand was started.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Stars, celebrities and TV presenters all have gleaming teeth. I knew before I went in head first that I had to check tangible data and whether this would be a worthwhile investment. I looked up website search statistics and saw there was a huge demand for teeth whitening at home.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
From an early age I’ve always wanted to run my own business; even as a kid I was a ‘trader’ whenever possible. Having complete control and being the sole decision maker drove me to set my own company up. I had thorough support from my family with a “get up and go” and “if you don’t try you’ll never know” attitude. Backup like this is a great advantage.
What planning did you do before you started up?
I chose to do market research myself. I set up a period of test-trading with a basic website just to get a feel for the market, customers and the whole eCommerce experience. This was priceless knowledge.
How did you raise the money?
Along with my business plan I had a meeting with my local bank manager. I was disappointed to find that even though I had an “impressive business plan” including cash flow forecast, they could only match any funding that I personally put down. This I found a big blow and highly de-motivating. In the end, I was lucky enough to be able to rely on family for funding.
What challenges have you faced how have you overcome them?
I never realised how competitive the teeth whitening market was. Alongside this, I was faced with the world of Web Marketing, SEO and PPC. This is something that requires ongoing work and dedication – there is always room for improvement! Comparing, differentiating and deciding what 3rd party agencies to use was also tricky business.
How have you promoted your business?
As my website is new it will take time to increase its ranking in search engines, organic listings is something that can come naturally over time. For the time being I am relying on the Googles AdWords scheme – this drives paid, target-driver traffic to my website.
What’s the impact on your home life been like?
When I was in the process of setting up my website, it was time consuming. I worked closely with my brand consultant in the initial project phase and tried to work alongside them as much as possible. Now as the company has matured there is no impact on my private life, the website can run itself. But I am constantly thinking of new ideas and optimising my marketing budget.What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Do your homework. Test-trading proved to be priceless information and provided me with a customer profile. Ensure that when your business plan is being created that every possible expense is accounted for; be realistic with figures and add 15 to 20% on to your set up budget. Costs always appear that you would never have thought of previously.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Ideally my short term goals are to increase the brand awareness of Naturally Bright. Over the next 5 years my plan is to have Naturally Bright teeth whitening products in a number of different types of retail outlets.