Gemma Went is an award-winning business mentor + growth strategist helping small businesses grow and scale with consistent, recurring revenue. She’s helped businesses achieve great things and smash their goals through her proprietary frameworks and systems, all based on three core principles: Mindset + Strategy + Action, which makes up her MSA ApproachTM.
Winner of the Entrepreneurs Champion at the 2018 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Gemma is a podcaster, writer, speaker, panellist and awards judge. She’s led the marketing at a range of businesses, been the social media director at two award-winning London agencies and delivered successful digital strategies across many industries. She’s run two businesses of her own (the first she won an entrepreneur of the year award for) and helped hundreds of small business owners get the results they need, taking their business to the next level and helping them to reach the goals they desire.
Thank you for joining usGemma, can you tell us a little bit about your background story and how it reflects who you are and what you do today as an award-winning online business mentor?
Hey, thanks for having me. I have around 20 years of experience, and started life as a marketing professional, working in a few roles before becoming the Head of Marketing at a leading UK Product Innovation Consultancy. This was where my love of research, design and innovation was born which are all key elements of my own business today. I later shifted my focus to digital marketing when my inner geek fell in love with the online world, and I started my own digital marketing agency where I worked with brands, corporates, small businesses and agencies, helping them to create incredible results online. This was where I won my first award as Entrepreneur Of The Year after specialising in social media.
From there I was headhunted by a client to become Social Media Director at their new agency, and later become Social Media Director at a PR agency, both roles saw me working with global brands, corporates, celebrities and entertainment brands.
My current business started when I was 7 months pregnant and a planned single mum. I needed to design a business that would allow me the space to be mum, and keep a roof over our heads. I started this life as a digital marketing consultant working with brands and corporates, but later I started working with small business owners and realised my passion was to help other small business owners – particularly women – create the success and life I had (I reached six figures working a few days a week, and multi-six figures shortly afterwards).
I moved into business mentoring as it became my calling. I found that the small businesses were struggling with the essential business strategy elements they needed grow, and I focussed particularly on how they could grow their businesses online. I’ve worked with over 1000 small business clients globally to help them reach their business dreams and won the Entrepreneurs Champion at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
This mix of experience, working in different industries, for different types of businesses, at board level and running two of my own successful businesses, has created a depth of knowledge that allows me to guide and advise in a completely bespoke way, instead of insisting my clients follow a set blueprint. My own experience of bootstrapping from nothing with my second business has particularly helped me to understand the highs and lows entrepreneurs go through, particularly the various mindset traps that can trip you up along the way. This is what prompted me to create my MSA Method™, which combines Mindset + Strategy + Action™, all of which are essential to business success.
How are you helping business owners grow and scale with the right strategies, the right systems and a whole lot of soul?
In the earlier stages, I help business owners to understand the essential foundational elements of running a sustainable business and how the various pieces of the business jigsaw go together. We spend time digging into who their ideal client is, what their biggest struggles are and what they actually want from them, then we design solutions that give them both what they want and what they need (because they don’t always understand what they need).
I share with them my proven strategies and systems across marketing, sales and operations that help them to understand how to grow online with a streamlined company while staying true to their purpose and dream for the future. Keeping them in alignment is key, they don’t want to create a business that gives them a job. They want to be in full alignment with their purpose and actually enjoy what they’re doing. Key to all of this is helping them to create a success mindset ready to navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneur life. Of which there are many!
When clients are ready to scale, we look at their business model, the internal structure and the team they need to reach and serve a wider audience, the revenue streams and how they may need to be redesigned to allow them to scale, without over-stretching themselves. There’s a whole new mindset at this level, so we dig deep into that and understand what needs to shift to help them step into the next level them.
In which way are you measuring these results by the methods you use?
I measure against the initial goals they come to me with, checking in during our work together to ensure we’re working towards them and adjusting any targets and goals as their confidence grows and they start to move the goalposts and dream bigger. Most people come with a revenue goal in mind, which is easier to track, some with a goal to grow their audience or increase leads, again those are easy to track and I have monthly reports from them that track those. Some come to me as they need me to help them build the belief that they can actually do this thing called business, which is a meandering journey and harder to track, but ultimately one that’s far more rewarding for me. Once they have that belief, they can do anything.
3 scaling tips for the innovators of the future looking to achieve stability and generate recurring revenue?
- Design a business that’s set up for recurring revenue (which sounds simple, but so many business owners don’t). When I chat with people about this, they simply think it’s about creating memberships and payments plans, but it’s far more than that. The business model, revenue streams, marketing system, sales system, funnels, operations and customer experience functions all need to be purposefully designed to support recurring revenue. Once this is done, there is much more stability and space for those business owners to do what they love.
- Don’t wait to add in a recurring revenue model. So many businesses wait until they’ve reached a certain level (for many this is a revenue level), but actually you can plan for this much earlier on. I did it from year 1 and it was essential for my sanity.
- Even when you’re central to your products and services, have an eye on how you will be able to take yourself out of that central role once you’re ready to scale. Identify where you need to be to serve at your highest level and plan to be there. Identify where you will be able to hire someone else to run other elements and get clear on what that could look like before you’re ready. For each product or service, I create, this is a consideration at the design stage, even when I don’t need it.
- Bonus: as early as you can, look to secure enough recurring revenue to cover the operating costs of your business (including all taxes, salaries, profit if running the profit-first model), that way you know you have everything covered and any other revenue you create in the business is pure profit that can either be invested back into growth or saved.
Can you talk us through the setup process, the initial launch and the company structure?
My set-up process was a quick one! Thankfully I had the experience, so I could just crack on with it.
The first thing I did was get clear on who I wanted to work with, what their struggles were and how I could help them deal with those. I then created my website as I knew I needed a place to send people to share my credentials and offer while I was looking after a newborn. I optimised my website for search immediately and within 3 months was on page 1 of Google for my core key phrase. This means that I had enquiries pretty quickly. But I didn’t just rely on that. I did a lot of outreach in the early days, making a hit list of people I already knew and reached out to tell them what I was doing and who I wanted to work with. I asked for referrals, and that worked well. By year 2 I had designed the business for recurring revenue and secured a few retainers, which went on to last over 2 years and meant I had much more security and a lot less anxiety.
My company structure now is me, my online business manager (who has been with me for 4 years), my virtual assistant/social media manager, podcast and video editor, graphic designer, bookkeeper, accountant and two coaches. My team is made up of subcontractors and I couldn’t be without them.
How you are balancing the work/life strife?
It’s not easy! I love what I do so tipping over into working all the time is actually very easy for me. I’m much better at scheduling my calendar to allow space and downtime, only working with clients on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and having a more relaxing day on a Friday.
My mindset routine is key to keeping my head tip-top, which consists of journaling and meditation every day. I also have reiki at my home once a week.
I’m very big on boundaries and curate my experience online by being very select about what I digest and expose myself too. Sadly social media can feel like a school playground and I have little patience for anything that affects my peace or creates drama, so I’m very big on boundaries there.
Do you currently use any apps or tools to help the functionality of your business practice?
So many! Kajabi is my core tool, which I use for so many things as it’s an all in one solution. I also love Asana, Slack, Active Campaign, Dubsado and so many more. I have a whole list of them here if that helps: https://gwent.co/tools
If you could tell your 18-year old self a solid piece of advice, what would it be?
Those things that you’re worried about so much aren’t real. Believe in you and you’ll reach those dreams of yours much, much quicker.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
When I first saw it I had an instant reaction. So I’m going to share that. Be your own guide, trust your judgement, trust your intuition and know that you’re the best mentor you can ever have. Sometimes we had the answers we wanted all along, inside of us.
What does 2020 look like for you and how are you looking to expand?
I’m excited! I have a few new products and services coming and I’m looking at a few new marketing strategies that will allow me to broaden my reach in other areas and scale the business even more. I have a big mission to help many more women turn their lives around with a successful business, and this will be a big year for that.
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