Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Meliors Simms, a natural oral health coach. My business is called Holistic Tooth Fairy. It’s an online oral health coaching service. We support clients all over the world to prevent and heal tooth decay and gum disease for more positive dental experiences and outcomes.
HTF helps improve oral health with low cost, self help strategies including nutrition, jaw relaxation, optimised oral hygiene and emotional support. Our coaching is for health-focused, self-responsible adults who feel let down by ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ dental experiences. We offer strength-based, trauma-informed, culturally responsive, individual coaching via Zoom calls.
We meet clients wherever they are at now, even in locations with unaffordable or inaccessible dental services or as individuals with paralysing dental anxiety.
Every client gets a uniquely personalised protocol of healthy habits tailored to their needs, circumstances and preferences, to help them reduce unnecessary dental interventions and improve the outcomes of their regular checkups.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’m self taught because I had really terrible teeth. For three decades I complied with every dental recommendation but that failed to stop me getting fillings or worse at every visit. Finally facing what would have been my 7th root canal, I started looking for an alternative approach.
I started with a few nutritional changes and within two weeks that root canal was no longer needed. Inspired to continue researching everything ‘Alt Oral’, my teeth improved year after year. In 2017 I started online coaching in response to word of mouth demand and within three months I was able to quit my day job to be a full time Fairy.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Natural oral health coaching was pretty much a non-existent niche when I began, which meant that no-one really understood what I was offering. But also, there was no competition. I got to define this niche according to my values and vision. I started with a website and a mailing list, initially relying on Facebook and Pinterest to drive traffic and gain subscribers to my weekly newsletter. Launching was incredibly challenging, satisfying and never ever boring!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Aside from a couple of experiments with advertising, all my marketing has been organic. I’ve prioritised website SEO from the beginning, to ensure I could eventually get off the hamster wheel of social media marketing. Google searches continue to match my ideal clients with a substantial catalogue of my evergreen self help resources on You Tube, Insight Timer and my website. These resource offer lead magnets and the option of subscribing to my weekly newsletter which consistently delivers high value content in my very specific niche.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
When Covid-19 limited access to dental services and triggered a global dental health crisis alongside the medical crisis, more people than ever started searching for online oral health support. The Holistic Tooth Fairy’s SEO was already strong, leading more new visitors to our unique blend of practical, compassionate self help for oral health.
In 2020 demand for oral health coaching accelerated beyond my capacity as a solo coach so I mostly stopped actively marketing on social media, yet the wait time for coaching increased to three or four weeks. This year I’ve trained my first apprentice coach to help deliver services alongside me and I plan to launch a formal training programme for coaches and other practitioners next year. I’m also writing a series of self-help books for people who want to take charge of their own oral health, overcome dental anxiety or keep their children’s teeth healthy.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Someone described launching and growing a business as a continuous course in personal development. I bootstrapped with almost no capital so at the beginning I did everything from web design to email automations. As the business grew, leaned on my strengths while investing in help from talented people for my weaknesses. Breaking ground in a niche that didn’t exist before I started my business, I enjoy a continuing advantage of market leadership by being the first, and still the best, Alt Oral coach online.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The tools I couldn’t do without include Acuity which takes bookings and payments; and crucially, has always done the time zone conversions for my international clientele. I deliver coaching on Zoom, use Active Campaign for email marketing and Streak for CRM. Zapier ties all these platforms together
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I’m a big fan of Mike Michalowitz’s books Profit First and Clockwork. Tash Corbin was a brilliant mentor when I was launching. These days I’m listening to all the self publishing podcasts I can find, as I finish writing my first book ‘Messages from your mouth: Understanding emotional influences on oral health’
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I think every entrepreneur should start growing a mailing list from day one