The rapid growth of Grace Lever’s latest venture, GraceLever.com, has seen her twice nominated for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards (SA) in the ‘Young Business Women’s Award’ category, which she won this year. Her eponymous brand offers female entrepreneurs practical guidance and proven strategies to help them create businesses that are not just profitable and scalable but lifestyle-friendly.
Having previously founded or co-founded five small businesses across different industries, the digital marketing specialist, educator and serial entrepreneur wanted to impart her first-hand experience and knowledge to other female entrepreneurs, and eliminate what she considers to be common barriers to success: fear, lack of confidence, the absence of a support network and the ‘pursuit of perfect’. Regarding the latter, Lever is a proponent of taking ‘massive, imperfect action’ rather than procrastinating and deliberating.
Lever spoke with Dynamic Business about the genesis of GraceLever.com, the business’s growth, and the process of trial and error that led her into a career that strikes a balance between profitability and lifestyle.
A gap in the market
“I launched the brand in late 2014 after realising there was a gap in the market for a consultancy that showed female entrepreneurs how they could take active, decisive steps to grow their business. I’d been to a number of networking and motivational events and felt disillusioned by them – I wanted to provide an alternative to the ‘fluff’ that was out there, and help women to ‘stop dreaming and start doing’.
“I decided a live events model would be the best platform for sharing my learnings, so launched my series of ‘Doing Days’. At these half-day workshops, held in cities across Australia, I cover topics including ‘lead generation’ and ‘Facebook advertising’, and attendees spend time learning practical, hands-on process that can be applied in their own business. The Doing Academy, which is a members group, evolved out of this – it comprises of online training modules and webinars as well as weekly support from me, membership to a private Facebook group, and opportunities to attend face-to-face catch-ups with like-minded women.
“I’m still involved with a few businesses, including digital marketing Inbound Marketing, but I’m primarily focused on growing GraceLever.com and its community of female entrepreneurs, both in Australia and abroad.”
A global audience
“The brand’s reach has been staggering. I have sold over 5,000 tickets to my Doing Days, having held 50 of these workshops in the past twelve months. I also have almost 1,500 active and engaged members of my Doing Academy and I’m in front of over 3 million people online each month (via Facebook) with 22,000 followers across social media. On the financial side, I’ve been able reach a turnover of over 7 figures in 12 months.
“GraceLever.com launched in the U.S last month. Female entrepreneurs stateside now have access to an online offering that incorporate my brand’s ‘Doing’ philosophy. Around 50 people enrolled in the first week and we’ve now got around 320 people in the US enrolled into the paid program. It is on track to be a million-dollar division of the brand by early 2017. I’ve now got my sights on launching an online offering for women in rural and regional Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand in the new year.
“Another key indicator of the brand’s success has been the ability to wake up in the morning and do something I love. I’m finally in a position where I enjoy every aspect of what I do, am good at it, and know I’m going to have an amazing day!”
The ‘Doing Revolution’
“Establishing what would be of most value to the businesswomen I’m supporting – and realising that what they were asking for wasn’t necessarily what they needed – was a learning curve. Initially, many asked me to build their business for them. Whilst I fulfilled this obligation, I came to realise that this was not helping them in the long term, so I changed tact and focused on empowering them to build businesses themselves.
“I am in awe of the number of female entrepreneurs who have been going it alone. It’s been rewarding seeing these women band together for what I call ‘The Doing Revolution’ – a movement of female entrepreneurs that are ready to roll up their sleeves, cut the fluff and ‘get doing’.”
Becoming a brand
“I positioned myself as the brand because I’ve been on the same journey as many of the women in my community. The brand resonates and people relate to me because of my personal experiences. Authenticity has been vital: I think many women are pleasantly surprised when they meet me, or engage with me online, because they can see I talk the talk, and am genuinely who I say I am! Many find that honesty refreshing. I make it a priority to open up a dialogue and create a relationship with all the women in my wider community straight from the outset. This two-way communication builds trust, even before (or in the absence of) meeting face to face.”
A diverse portfolio
“Working in different niches – and with a variety of business models – has helped me to realise where my strengths lie and what my ‘genius zone’ is. I was previously involved in the corporate world as a project manager but quickly became frustrated by the layers of bureaucracy and realised I was better placed as a business owner.
“With each business, I’ve had to learn on the go and figure out things through a process of trial and error. I’ve also made a habit of building businesses that don’t require a lot of start-up capital, exploit the opportunities new technologies offer, and generate quick returns. Realising I don’t have to do everything myself was very liberating – by assembling a team of people who are geniuses in their own niche, I’ve been able to focus on the areas I’m best at.
“I’ve also developed expertise in funnel marketing by experimenting with countless businesses. This intelligent marketing method uses technology in a clever way to create customer relationships that are personal yet completely automated, meaning exceptional customer experience is a 24/7 proposition. I’m now in a position to advise others on how they can implement this method within their niche.
“It may sound clichéd but I believe a business can only be a great one if the owner loves what they do. In the past, I’ve run businesses that were really profitable – but at a great personal cost. I’ve realised that working crazy hours and sacrificing lifestyle just isn’t sustainable. When a business hasn’t struck the perfect balance, i.e. hasn’t been profitable and lifestyle-friendly, I’ve either rented it (a flooring company, an automation company) or sold it (an event management company).”