An Interview with Jon Ogden


Youth Lad is a new business that opened it’s doors in December 2017. Jon and his partner Dr Kate, specialise in non-surgerical cosmetic injectable treatments, and they are smashing goals so very early in their business.

What is your business (include name) and when did you start?

My business Youth Lab was founded by myself and my partner Dr Kate Jameson and launched at the end of last year in December 2017, though the planning of the business started in January 2017.

Youth Lab is a cosmetic injectable clinic specilaising in non-surgical treatments such as lip enhancements, anti-wrinkle injections etc. We also are focused on advanced dermal therapy treatments and laser skin rejuvenation procedures.

What inspired you to start your business?

Simply put, it was time. With 6 years at my old company, I had probably gone as far as I could as Head of Digital. I have always been open to looking for opportunities to start a business and over the years had enjoyed working on several side projects.

My partner, Dr Kate, had established herself as a leading cosmetic physician in Perth, WA and was taking more patients in cosmetics than she was taking in her GP work. Due to my background in digital marketing and business, coupled Dr Kate’s skillset and reputation, it made sense to take the next step and go into business.

Tell us about the journey you have been on with your businesses?

The journey for us has been a lot of work and a lot of fun. Starting a something from a simple idea and conversation and then turning it into a real life brand and business that earns revenue is an exciting thing to do with your time.

How do you handle the naysayers?

We have done our best to surround ourselves with real friends which definitely means you don’t get too much negativity. We’ve made a big effort to plan well and plan very thoroughly. From that planning, we have gained a lot of confidence, so really any negative comments have not made much of an impact. I will say dealing with negative people is hard, and there is no sure fire way to handle it. I try to take their comments on board and then see if they have any genuine points. I think if you just disregard all negative comments you might miss some valid feedback, but it is very hard to do and I have by no means mastered this skill. I think very few ever do.

How do you balance everything? What are your top tips?

I don’t think you can balance things perfectly, but you can have a daily plan of what tasks to knock off your list and try your hardest to stick to it. If you don’t have these small goals then I think you can be very busy but not achieve to much as you just get pulled into the first task you see or comes up. You end up being very reactive and not proactive.

So my tips are to make a list, I use Trello which is an online solution. I also recommend outsourcing anything you struggle with. So if you struggle with numbers, get a good bookkeeper otherwise you can spend hours on a task you don’t like and probably end up doing a bad job. Better to spend your time on the bits you’re really good at as much as possible.

Where do you envision yourself in the next 5 years? How do you plan to do this?

We envision ourselves with several clinics and looking for potential partners to expand to the key Eastern states such as NSW, QLD and VIC.

What has been a challenge you’ve had to overcome that has shaped you and your business?

An on-going challenge with the launch of our clinic has been to maintain keeping our costs as low as possible and not exceeding our budget. During a fitout process, there are a lot of extra costs that pop up, no matter how well you plan. I think we have done well all in all with no major cost oversights, but this is definitely an ongoing challenge.

Why did you choose to start at such a young age?

Both my parents and Kate’s parents owned small businesses, so I think that played a part as we understood owning a small business was very possible and we both got a first hand view of how to do it. We are also both passionate readers and have enjoyed books from businessmen and women which again help motivate you that these things are possible to do.

I think the key reason though, is we are both passionate about what we do and we are looking to live a life with more both financial freedom and time flexibility (though during the early stages you end up having neither which is why you need the passion).

What would you say was a key to your so far success?

So far having such a strong business relationship between myself and my partner Dr Kate is the key to our success. As I am focused squarely on the branding and business and Kate is focused on the medical service delivery, we have little overlap and it allows us to have our own areas of expertise. We can also collaborate and bounce off each other easily which helps us both problem solve and have fresh inputs.

What has been the biggest tip you have received off someone that has stuck with you?

I attended a Google Masterclass in 2017 where the speaker Alex Langshur discussed ensuring your values, pricing and customers aligned with your brand. The masterclass was geared towards digital marketing agencies, but the concept stretches through to Youth Lab (and I think most businesses).

So for example, we want to be positioned in the market as a higher end clinic, with clients who are after quality results, a good experience at good price points. As such, we don’t discount our medical services. Now this strategy means we are not the cheapest and as a result we could be much busier, but we would be busier with the wrong types of clients who do not have loyalty and are just after the cheapest price point, therefore not aligning with our brand. The customers who do get offers and discounts from us are our already loyal customers which turns them into brand ambassadors. When you have rent and wages to pay, it is a hard concept to embrace but I feel it is essential to growing the right kind of business.

What is a tip that you would give to a young person thinking about starting a business, but not sure how to start?

I would say plan well, have a good go but also to fail fast. The hardest thing to do is to start something and let it fail, but you can be stuck on the wrong business idea for years if you are not careful. In saying that sticking with a business idea for years can also pay off if it is the right idea. Basically, knowing the difference is what separates success and failure.

All you can do is trust your gut and try to be objective as your current idea might not work but your next one might be a game changer.

What are your top 3 biggest lessons you have learnt in your business?

I am definitely still learning, but so far they would have to be:

 1. A detailed business plan is a great tool and essential for investment. If you’re truly serious about a business, work on a business plan as it gets your mind thinking about aspects you have not yet considered.

2. Find time to switch off. Setting up a business and running one is a lot of work and burnout is very real. You need to exercise and to have some down time whether it is at the weekend or a few nights in the week. It is hard to do.

3. Find a good commercial lawyer to go over your lease (if you have one) and to set-up good employment contracts from the offset. It can be an easy thing to disregard but getting these ‘duller’ bits of business done correctly at the start save you a lot of headaches down the road.

What is a podcast you can recommend?

Personally I love Hardcore History as they get really into details of a topic. From a business perspective, I enjoyed the Google Partners podcasts. The content is based around marketing agencies but they touch on business fundamentals and I think there is a lot of knowledge shared that can be applied to most markets.

If you could meet an inspirational leader, who would that be? Why?

For me it would be Robert F Kennedy, JFK’s brother. I found how he dealt with his brothers assassination and subsequent career very aspirational in terms of overcoming hardships and tragedy.

What was one of the first goals you smashed in your business?

Well we exceeded our first months target by 35% which is a phenomenal start for us and really gives us that burst of confidence that all our planning and preparation has paid off.

What would you say to your younger self?

Relax, enjoy life more, it’s short.

Where can we contact you?

You can find all the contact details to get in touch with me on the Youth Lab website.



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