How to build an online brand

Success stories

Success Case Study: Clarified

gareth-thomas
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I’m Gareth and I run Clarified. I specialise in digital strategy for small businesses, helping them to get their websites really working (increasing sales, bookings, enquiries, etc.)

As well as the businesses, I also have my ‘personal brand’, writing on my website, sharing/discussing over on Twitter, and my newsletter.

Did you have a ‘day job’ prior to this? If so, what was it?

I have a day job now, which is to be a foster carer to three incredible kids.

Before Clarified, I spent 10 years building a travel company. After 10 years of long hours and lots of travel, it was time for a change. There’s a big overlap with my two worlds (the kids and the business). Understanding behaviour is at the core of everything I do and I love learning more about that each day. I want to make the world a better place for children in the care system, and that overlap is helping me do it.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

I’ve always got something positive from any job I’ve had. However, I worked in hospitality for a couple of years (bars and nightclubs). It was a lot of fun, but I definitely couldn’t cope with the late hours now.

What gave you the idea of setting up on your own?

I started doing web design and development when I was a teenager. The internet was really new then and there were lots of businesses who wanted to get online. Age 15, I remember a cheque arriving in the post for a website I had built.

The idea that you would get paid for providing value stuck with me, and I kept going.

I want to make the world a better place for children in the care system, and that overlap is helping me do it

Gareth thomas, clarified

How did you manage to achieve it?

Success is definitely not a straight line. Not helped by our definition of success often changing over time. I keep an eye on where I am, and roughly where I want to be. And then I take steps as often as possible in the direction I want to go. Consistency and persistence.

How confident were you that it was going to work?

The travel company was my biggest challenge in that sense.

We believed in what we were doing. Almost everyone else said it wouldn’t work. We were bringing online booking to an industry that wasn’t keen on it at all (the world of holiday rentals). We listened to the objections people had, and found people that did believe in us.

Once we started getting results it became easier for the business to get going.

What has been/what is your biggest challenge?

Time. Without doubt. I thought I was good at managing my time, and then overnight I had 3 kids. Figuring out how to make the best use of my time (whilst keeping some spontaneity and enjoyment in life) is an ongoing project. It’s one I’ve worked on a lot over the last 2 years.

What have you learnt along the way?

Most people think success happens overnight. In one big moment. Success of any kind comes from consistently turning up, doing the work, keeping your promises, helping people out, and keeping going.

Read how you need to think to become successful here

What has been your biggest achievement with your brand?

We built Reserve into the largest holiday apartment agency in Scotland. I’m proud of that. Although to be honest, it tends to be the smaller things that make me smile. Hearing the positive feedback, seeing the difference I can make, using my experience to help people starting out, etc.

gareth thomas clarified
Gareth was 14 when he started his first business

What has worked well for you?

Building a network. From the start I’ve seen being around interesting people as a major perk of the job (whatever job I do). It’s also something you can start right now, for absolutely zero cost.

What has not worked well for you?

Trying to do too much. It’s easy to see that a business that tries to appeal to everyone isn’t likely to succeed. Yet as individuals we are people pleasers. We want to help everyone, we want to say yes to every job. You probably can do it all. Just not at the same time.

Success of any kind comes from consistently turning up, doing the work, keeping your promises, helping people out, and keeping going

Gareth thomas, clarified

Are you making more money than you did in your day job? Is that important?

My income now comes from a few different sources, which was important for me.

I’ve never set financial targets for myself, but I certainly make more than I ever thought I would. I think it’s helpful to reach the point where having more money no longer increases your happiness. That’s a good lesson to learn early on.

Visit Clarified here

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