Our Businesswoman of the Month is inspirational marketing speaker and author of Watertight Marketing – Bryony Thomas
Would you mind giving us a brief explanation of what your business is and when you launched it?
Watertight Marketing is essentially a training business. The Watertight Marketing Methodology that I developed is a guided process for understanding marketing fundamentals so that you can quickly and confidently take marketing decisions that move your business forward. We train business owners over a year – this is a one-off investment in knowledge that will serve them for the rest of their entrepreneurial lives. We also train and licence marketing consultants to use the methodology with their own clients.
What made you want to start this particular business?
It’s not the original business I started. When I left my big corporate job in 2008, I set up as a pretty typical time-for-money marketing consultant. I knew I wanted to help businesses where my advice could make the most difference. For me, this was in owner-managed businesses who’d put their all into building their businesses. When your mortgage is on the line, it matters! Over my engagements with growing businesses, I kept drawing the same diagrams, using the same metaphors, and having the same conversations… with staggering results in terms of the clarity with which non-marketers understood and embraced marketing. So, I wrote it down and turned it into the one-year Marketing Masterplan programme.
What do you think it takes to succeed in business?
You need to be smart and invest in yourself. This often means more reading and listening than talking about yourself. I’ve invested over £10K per year in my own professional development for every year I’ve been in business. There are lots of other things, but personal development and the self-awareness that comes with that has to be up there.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt so far?
A lesson I know conceptually, but am still mastering day-to-day, is not to be distracted by comparison to others (or your own unrealistic expectations of yourself). It can be very disheartening to look at what appears to be other people’s overnight success, and look harshly on the decade of work you’ve put in without seemingly reaching their heights. You simply never know another person’s journey. Focus on your own.
What do you think it is about you that enabled you to turn an idea into a business?
Honestly, it’s part of who I am. I remember my first real boss, Mark Mason, telling me at age 22 to shout when I was ready to set up on my own and he’d be there to support me. I’ve always had a tenacity and fight in me. I ran in my school mock elections when I was 13, I organised rallies and campaigns on environmental issues, I threatened to take my school to the European court for not letting girls wear trousers. If I see something that needs doing, I’m almost physically compelled to do it.
If you were starting all over again tomorrow, what are the top 3 rules you would follow?
1) Look after yourself
2) Have fun
3) Always leave things better than you found them
What difficulties did you experience setting up your business and what has got you through the tough times?
Setting up initially was fine and the first three years on my own were fun. But, changing the business model from simple consulting to a scalable training and licensing model was, and still is, a real challenge. Firstly, I had a young daughter, and took the decision to only work three days per week. Then, we lost my father to cancer and I was absolutely knocked sideways by grief for at least a year. So, despite setting up in 2008, I feel I’m only really about 18 months into the new business model. I’m digging deep both financially and emotionally to build the foundations of a business that will be huge. There are days when I pine a little for that simple consulting business where I turned up and charged a day rate. But, I know that what I’m building is exactly where I should be right now. My husband and my friends have got me through tough times.
Starting a business can be all-consuming. As a mum, what are your tips for dealing with the struggles of balancing work and family life?
I’ve not always followed these tips myself, and have often allowed my business to be all-consuming. When I’m at my best, I stick to core hours – locking the computer at the office and switching off my phone. I also have a really brilliant husband who is a true partner is parenting and home-making.
Do you have (or did you have) a mentor and when you need advice, who do you talk to?
Yes, I work with three coaches and a Non Exec Director. I have a business coach as part of the Entrepreneurial Spark programme, he keeps me on my numbers. I have a coach as part of a Mastermind group that I’m part of, she is more focused on my wellbeing within my business, I call her my cheer leader (we all need one!). I have also started working with a health coach, after years of chronic fatigue and periods of clinical depression, I am now committing to a year of full focus on my health and energy.
What are your plans for the future?
World domination, obviously. I jest… though, many a true word and all that. I see the Watertight Marketing Masterplan programme as something all entrepreneurs would want to do. I see it as the default investment in personal development for anyone wanting to grow a business. In practical terms, this means growing our network of licensees to three figures in the UK, and then franchising the model into other geographies.
Do you have any specific tips for anyone wanting to start a new business?
Look after yourself.
Grab a free sample of Watertight Marketing here and get connected with Bryony on Facebook and Twitter to know more.