Welcome to part 6 of the Real Women, Real Business series!
This series is about understanding the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of quitting a job and starting a business.
Before I left my corporate job, I was so in awe (and still am) of women who had taken the leap and set up their own business. I wanted to know how they came up with their idea and what gave them the courage to finally go for it.
This week’s interview is with the founder of a Digital Marketing Consultancy and co-founder of JSixQ!
If you love what you read, here are the other interviews in the series for you to peruse at your leisure!
- Interview 1: Ellie Frost, Brand Strategist, and Business Coach
- Interview 2: Rachel Creeger. Comedian, Writer, and Director
- Interview 3: Laura Peli. Executive Career Coach
- Interview 4: Monika Wawrzyczek. Mystique Lash Salon, and Academy
- Interview 5: Louise Winter: A Modern Funeral Director
An interview with Georgia Gallone founder of a Digital Marketing Consultancy and co-founder of JSixQ
What is your business?
I run a digital marketing consultancy where I help companies with SEO, online advertising, email marketing, website development and social media.
I also started a company called JsixQ with a friend. We are building a polling/market research app with a twist.
What was your previous job?
I was CTO at a publishing firm in the City in my last full-time role. I dealt with everything digital and IT related; from website development to implementing software and integrating various software, to the IT infrastructure, and moving the company from in-house servers to the cloud. I even fixed the printers on occasion!
What made you decide you wanted to leave your corporate job?
After a series of office jobs, I decided I didn’t want to work for others, but for myself. I’d been thinking about it for a while before taking the plunge.
How did you decide what business to set up?
I started my consultancy to earn money while I figured out what I really wanted to do. After a bit of trial and error with a few other ventures, I decided to focus on the JsixQ app idea.
Was everyone supportive of your idea?
For the most part, people were supportive but there were a few who had reservations. Hopefully, we’ll be able to prove them wrong!
Did you have an ‘emergency fund’ to tide you over while you set up your business or did you start it on the side while still at work?
I started saving money while I was working and also started helping other businesses in my spare time (for free) in order to gain experience in the start-up world and confidence in myself.
It sounds weird, but although I knew I was good at my job the idea of venturing out on my own and charge people for my time seemed scary. I wanted to prove to myself that if I could add value for free I could do it for a fee as well.
Did you have to get any outside investment to get going?
I had some savings, which came in very handy, but also had support from my family when I needed it. However, I would recommend saving double what you think you might need. Money has a habit of vanishing on nothing when you don’t have a regular income.
Did you take any courses or qualifications?
After I left my job, I took a Scrum Master and Product Owner course (project management qualifications) just to feel more confident in my ability and to have that “piece of paper”.
Did you have any particular fears about starting a business and if so how did you get over them?
I guess the main worry was: “Will I be able to make enough money?”. I really tried to put it out of my mind, it’s no good being ruled by fear and sometimes you have to just go for it.
I always thought I could go back to permanent or contract jobs if I was really stuck, so I just focused on ways to put myself out there and find people I could help.
Starting JsixQ however, was easier as I wasn’t doing it on my own and already had the income from my consultancy to help.
What was the hardest thing about setting up the business?
Setting up the companies was easy, the accounting though… I tried to do it on my own, but company taxes, VAT, personal taxes, I couldn’t spend my time trying to learn all that and decided I was better off hiring an accountant! It’s a good lesson that sometimes you can’t do everything.
Did you make any mistakes when you were setting up?
Hmm…where should I start? Joking aside, I must have made loads of mistakes! Setting up a business is a huge learning curve and you learn something new every day. It’s half the fun!
How long did it take before you made enough for a full-time income?
I took me around 6-7 months before I started earning enough money, but it felt like a lot longer!
How do you manage your time?
At first, I was terrible at time management. I would wake up around 7-7:30am, get on my computer but stay in my pyjamas until 3-4pm, sometimes even later.
Things had to change, so I forced myself to become more disciplined, get up, have a shower and THEN get to work.
I work from home or from coffee shops with my business partner and I tend to divide my time by spending some days on my consultancy and some days on JsixQ.
I found it a lot easier to be disciplined with my time once I got really busy with work.
Do you ever procrastinate and how do you deal with it?
Yes. I try not to, but there are some things I don’t like doing so I put them off for as long as I can, then, when I know there is a deadline looming I click into gear.
I think procrastination is fine on occasion as long as you don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty; you can’t be switched on all the time.
How do you market your business?
For my consultancy, I get most of my jobs through word of mouth, and a group of freelancers called Hoxby Collective.
As the JsixQ app isn’t out yet, we’re working on social media and spreading the word in as many imaginative ways as possible.
What is your favourite thing about having your own business?
I love being able to manage my time however I like. I love the fact I can take a week-day off if it’s sunny and go shopping with my mother or babysit my niece and work at the weekend if it’s raining and miserable.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to women who want to start a business?
Do it. It’s hard work, but totally worth it.