One of the biggest benefits that we hear from WSI Internet Consultants around the world is the camaraderie that exists amongst the network of consultants and Home Office.
You often hear the phrase “WSI Family” when we meet at various times during the year. This is not just something we say - many times our discussions continue from one event to the next, and it is an amazing and rewarding part of this franchise.
Today, we are going to start interviewing Consultants throughout the network and profile them on our blog, as a means for all of us to get to know each other better.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce Mel and Nick Gard to you, all the way from South Africa.
Hi Mel, thanks so much for accepting this interview - we are excited to get to know more about you and Nick. Tell me a little about yourself, and where you are located?
We are a married couple from Durban, South Africa with two kiddies (aged 6 and 10).
Why did you want to become an Digital Marketing Consultant?
We were previously restaurateurs and this business model appealed to us in that we could work from anywhere in the world, and we could stick to normal business hours. To be honest, when we first found WSI we knew NOTHING about digital marketing! Our restaurant didn’t even have a website :)
Tell us about anyone who helped influence you into starting your own business?
Nick dragged me into his restaurant business, and he started his own business to get permanent residency in South Africa. After being your own boss, it’s not really an option to go find a job, so we knew that when the time was right, we would find something new. And that's when we found WSI.
How long have you been with WSI?
We started our business in November 2009, so it's 9 years this month!
Describe your typical work week?
We always start our Monday with a team meeting - we run through each client, update each other on any developments, discuss ideas. Nick spends a lot of time out the office, meeting with clients and prospects. Mel stays on top of projects at the office, attends networking functions and speaking engagements. Our kids are often in the office in the afternoon. We try to end Fridays with some drinks to decompress before the weekend.
What highlights have you had since being with WSI?
South Africa is a long way away from everywhere, so attending the Global Convention in 2010 was a big highlight for us, and one we really want to repeat soon! Also, opening our second location in London was a big achievement - and a big challenge!
What are the biggest obstacles that you have faced in running your business and how have handled it?
Learning an entire new industry was very challenging, but the WSI network helped a lot. Also, making lots of mistakes and learning from then! We also had a period where we went through a serious cash flow crises and almost went bankrupt - WSI Head Office was amazing during that period, so helpful and kind!
The biggest challenge we find now is the gap in our market’s understanding of what we do - we spend a lot of time educating prospects and clients so that they are clear about what is possible, and what isn’t.
What do you think are the best skills that you bring to your business?
Nick is fearless and straightforward when it comes to dealing with prospects and clients, and has a real drive to grow the business. Mel has become a lot more focused on the technical aspects and her strength is communication and idea generation.
What goal do you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?
We want to grow our London office to have a minimum of 20 recurring revenue clients, and grow the turnover of the South African office by at least 40%.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Travelling a lot more globally, and spending the majority of our time working on growing the business, rather than “in” the business.
What advice would you give a new WSI Consultant?
Fail fast, and fail forward! Take on things and then figure out how to do them, and learn from the inevitable mistakes that you will make. Join as many networking groups as you can and build a solid reputation from day one.
What would be your personal motto?
Wake Up, Kick Butt, Be Kind, Repeat
If we went to happy hour, what would you order?
Mel would be wine or G&T, Nick would be beer or whiskey.
If you could be anywhere other than here talking to me - right this minute, where would you be?
Middle of Kruger Park looking for leopards. Or wandering around Rome. Rome is good.
Well, there you have it. Feel free to connect with Mel & Nick Gard from South Africa. They have a lot of experience that they can share with other WSI Digital Marketing Consultants.