The Entrepreneur: Jennifer Irvine, The Pure Package and Balance Box

Running a multi-million pound business, while simultaneously being the mother of four children, Jennifer Irvine talks about her wellness empire

Founder: Jennifer Irvine
Company: The Pure Package and Balance Box
Website: www.purepackage.com and www.balancebox.com
Description in one line: The Pure Package and Balance Box are all about helping our clients achieve their health goals as simply as they can.
Previous companies: I started on the entrepreneurial journey at eight selling eggs, by the time I was a teenager I had a street traders license selling goods at markets.
Turnover: Estimated at £2m.
12-month target: To continue to expand whilst keeping our customers happy.

Business growth

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • We offer a very high-end diet delivered direct to your door
  • The ultimate convenience in dieting
  • Zero compromise on taste and flavor, all products are super fresh and ethically sourced

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Winning the Harper’s Bazaar Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

On a daily basis I look at our sales figures, delivery numbers and new sign-ups. It’s important to know where our sales are coming from and the divide between new and existing customers.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

At the moment we are happy to stay in the UK, there are international opportunies out there but for the time being I am happy to offer my services just as a consultant internationally. As a mother of four children, my home and my business are UK based.

Describe your growth funding path:

The company has grown very much on demand. I wanted to create a cash flow positive business, and this is what I did!

I started small with the business at home in my kitchen without any bank loans or outside investors, initially offering 10-day subscriptions which then turned to 90 days and the business has grown organically without any outside funding.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Our database has been instrumental to the company’s running and continued growth. We built this database a few years ago and it now has over a million lines of code.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

Ideally, we would like to see the business continue to expand, our aim is to have more happy healthy customers who we can help reach their health goals. Since launching Balance Box, we are helping twice as many people as before which is fantastic!

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

Making decisions which are both ethical and correct can be quite difficult and in turn more expensive for the business.

For example, all our ingredients are ethically sourced and free range which is costlier for us but makes the dish taste better! Some of our customers are not overly concerned about whether the ingredients are sourced, but for us, it’s the right thing to do.

What was your biggest business mistake?

I see “mistakes” as learning experiences rather than mistakes. Recently I had a business meeting and decided to wear new six-inch heels, I realized my error when it turned into a walking meeting and my feet were agony by the time I’d got back to my car!

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

I find employment laws can make it hard for an employer to be as personable as they might like. If a member of staff is off work sick then it would be nice to be able to call them and see how they’re feeling, but this would be considered a no-go zone which is frustrating.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

So many lose focus on their customers and the customer experience. They get caught up in paperwork and the overall financing of the business rather than the people.

How will your market look in three years?

We are in the wellness industry and can see customers having a greater understanding on how to lead a fuller, happier life. People care far more now about happiness then aesthetics and I think that will continue to flourish.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Enjoy the journey it’s not all about the destination.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

I believe in everyday luxuries such as my Jo Malone body lotions and favourite scent.

At this stage of life anything I do for myself is a luxury – allowing myself some me time is invaluable.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

I believe that working for others before starting your own business is a good idea, it gives you the chance to see good management and bad management firsthand. Working for someone else means you can learn and make your own mistakes before you start your own business.

What would make you a better leader?

More time!

Red tape can hinder team relationships – I would love to get to know the team even better and find out more about what makes people tick!

What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?

I have been very lucky as the business has been so successful, I wish I’d had more confidence in myself at the outset and could foresee how well we would do.

We started small and had waiting lists at the beginning, if I’d known how successful it would be then I’d have been able to expand the business even earlier.

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:

I look at my Fitbit app more than anything and use this for both business and personal use. I use it for business as I have a standing desk and personally it records both my steps and my sleep, which means I can look at the quality of sleep I have had which in turn helps when making major decisions.

Business book:

I have always been a list maker and am very self-aware, when I stumbled across The Secret by Rhonda Byrne it summed up how I think, and I could really identify with it.