Helen Marsden is the Director of online blood testing and health screening company Medichecks.
I come from an entrepreneurial family – my father was a great businessman and was evangelical about the satisfaction that comes from working for yourself. Although I worked in the City for many years, I always knew that when the right idea came along I’d leave to go it alone. Medichecks sells blood tests and health checks online which you can do at home and simply post to our partner laboratory.
The idea grew out of my keen interest in health and the frustration I felt at not being able to buy the tests I wanted to check my own health status. I bought Medichecks, a company which was essentially an online catalogue of laboratory blood tests, and gave it a much stronger consumer focus. We now sell thousands of blood tests every month with doctors’ interpretation and results dashboard included.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
The great challenge has been to let some things go and not be involved in every decision. As a founder of a business you can find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer scale and variety of all the jobs that end up on your desk, especially when you are expanding rapidly.
The challenge is then to make sure that you recruit the right team around you. The great reward comes from seeing your idea gain success.
For Medichecks this wasn’t overnight as we were certainly ahead of our time. But the fact that we were patient makes the reward even sweeter.
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures.
Medichecks’ history was one of trial and error. There was no established consumer health market in the UK, no business we could emulate, no products to copy, so we learned through our own successes and failures. We never bet the bank on an idea that hadn’t been tested, and we tested lots and lots of different health checks and price points. Even in that environment it was important to set goals so that we knew what success looked like. I rarely think in terms of successes and failures – I think of everything as a series of tests; some work, some don’t, learn and move on.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
I love to learn from others and have gained some great insights about myself as well as about the business from coaches.
A mentor or coach can be hugely useful when you’re stuck for what to do next – they make you see things a different way, remove blockages that might only exist in your imagination and can refresh the way you think about the whole business.
In fact, it was a coach who gave me the confidence to leave my well paid City job and take the plunge as an entrepreneur!
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
I strongly believe that you need to be firmly established in your eco system because that is where the opportunities will lie. We’ve recently moved our offices from Newark to Nottingham for precisely that reason. We’re now in MediCity, a hub for health technology and consumer health businesses. Networking encompasses so much nowadays, from where you’re located, to where you exhibit, to who you engage with on social media. We’re identifying many of our opportunities for growth through traditional and digital networking opportunities.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
At Medichecks we’ve been really fortunate as my colleague and co-founder Alistair Hall has great operational strengths and right from the start built a bespoke platform for the business which we’ve added to and improved every year. Having a robust system means you can scale and add volume in the knowledge that you can process the business and deliver the product. This investment has really paid off – we’re set to process 10 x as many orders this month as we did two years ago, and the business can easily cope with that increase as well as the future growth we anticipate.
What does the future hold for you?
We’re very excited about our future – the consumer health market is set for explosive growth as people realise that there are affordable and convenient products that can give them great insights into their health for a fraction of the price of a traditional private doctor. We’ve just re-branded, launched a new website and new consumer friendly packaging, moved into bigger premises, and have hired more people, especially doctors and client service professionals and developers. We’re talking to some amazing brands about partnering opportunities and are looking to build a strong affiliates network.
The UK consumer is waking up to the fact that they can be active participants in their own wellbeing and we’re giving them the information they need to take control of their health. There’s a revolution in health care going on – a revolution we are very much part of!