Interview with a career change mum – Tanya Gaffon

Today I interview Tanya, CEO of Distinctiv marketing consultancy. Tanya is an extremely talented marketer. 

Ruth Kudzi8

Today I interview Tanya Gaffon, Owner of Distinctiv marketing. Tanya is one of those people that I would recommend to all other small businesses as she really understands marketing and how to make your business stand out to your ideal customer. 

1.     What gave you the idea to start up your business?

I think it’s always been in me. I ran my own business selling books door to door for two summers during university. Following that, in my first real job following graduation you could argue I ran a business within a business, setting up work and study abroad programmes from scratch.

I was also looking for greater flexibility when it came to work and spending time with my daughter. She is growing up so fast and I didn’t want to miss out on this precious time with her because I was tied to working 9-5 and commuting on top of that.  So, when the opportunity came to take voluntary redundancy last summer, I took the plunge.

2.     What did you do to prepare to start up your business?

Probably not enough. However, if I had sat back and planned too much, I may well have talked myself out of it. I did discover the New Enterprise Allowance scheme quite early on and I got support writing a business plan and access to a business coach, which helped me find some focus in those early days.

A lot of what I have done has actually been trial and error, but that is how you learn. Having said that, one thing I did make sure I worked on from the beginning is really understanding who I wanted to target and with what. But that is pretty critical for me, as it is the service I sell to others.

3.     Which aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get that help?

 There have been so many things to learn from how to incorporate the business, finding a trading address, deciding whether I could rely on offline networking and LinkedIn to market my business, or whether I would need to consider investing in a website and using channels such as Facebook. There is still so much to learn. 

Mindset and dealing with the roller coaster of emotions you go through have been areas where I also have needed help, and that has been where Ruth has been invaluable.

Learning to make challenging decisions is also part and parcel of running your own business. The support Ruth has provided has helped me make decisions that I otherwise would probably still be sitting on.

I’ve received help from Ruth. Also from my NEA business coach. Where Ruth has been brilliant when it comes to developing the right mindset, my NEA coach has been great at providing practical tips.

I am also a member of Entrepreneurs Circle, which provides a fantastic resource to help with marketing – even for a marketing professional like me. EC does have some great resources to help you with your mindset, however with something like that I personally think it’s best coming from someone on a similar journey to you. That’s what I like about Ruth. She’s a mum and she knows exactly what it’s like to set up a business whilst juggling the demands of motherhood. Especially with small children who are still so reliant on you.

I also co-founded a local mumpreneurs group. I was trying to source a local trading address and asked on a local mum’s forum for lack of anywhere else to ask. Turns out some of the other mums on it had questions about their businesses. I asked if anyone would be interested in joining and / or helping me run a group, two other mums stepped forward to help me run it and the rest they say is history. They have been great support and I have made some good friends. A couple have even become clients!

4.     Describe what your business does and who you target it at / your ideal client

After conducting some research, both formal and informal, I settled on small business owners. In particular people who would like to grow their business, know their marketing isn’t necessarily giving them the results they want and are willing to do what it takes to change that. They value the importance of taking time out to work on their business, rather than in it but struggle to find that time.

That’s where I come in. I give them a reason to take at least an hour every couple of weeks or each month to focus on their strategy. Helping them work through the things that often get missed or rushed over. Such as really understanding their target customer and their value proposition. Helping them develop a strategy that will help them stand out from their competitors, and then providing guidance on how to implement it. So, they spend their money on marketing to the right people with the right proposition using the right messaging and in the right places. The result being a better return on marketing spend as well as more customers. It’s also time well spent for them.

Originally, I was looking only to work with local clients, but platforms such as Zoom with their remote meeting hosting capabilities mean I can work with clients further afield.

Working with small businesses was a bit of a gamble as I have naturally set my prices at levels small business owners can afford. This means I won’t make the same money that I would working with larger companies, which was my original plan. But I feel I can make the biggest difference working with small business owners. And you can’t put a price on the satisfaction that brings.

5.     What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?

Building something from scratch. Having an idea and seeing people buy into it and want you to help them build their businesses.

6.     What has been the biggest challenge?

Holding your nerve. When winning that first client inevitably takes longer than you anticipate, not giving up and throwing it all in.

7.     If you could go back and give yourself some advice what would it be?

It will be harder than you imagine, but make sure you surround yourself with people who you can learn from and who ask for support.

Really understand your reason for going into business – your why – and crystallise it as early as possible. This will help you make the hard decisions that you will sometimes have to make. It will also help you get through the challenging periods that are an integral part of this amazing journey.

Finally, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s how we learn.

To find out about the ideal customer course that Tanya has written click here:

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