This 38-Year-Old Makes 6 Figures Helping Companies and Amputees “Get Legs”
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Gareth Bain has always been an entrepreneur at heart. After spending some time in the workforce, he decided he was ready to take his experience and knowledge and not only strike out on his own but make a meaningful impact on others' lives.
Thus his bootstrapped startup, Got Legs Digital, was born. And today, he runs the first ethical growth marketing agency in the UK, and although he's making 6 figures a year, for Gareth, the impact his company is having on others is far more important. That's why he teams up with charities in Africa and donates prosthetic legs to amputee survivors. He's right on track to meet his target of 400 for 2022.
Keep reading to find out about:
- Why his first business failed
- How he succeeded after moving to the UK
- What his driving force is
- How Got Legs Digital works
- Why he focuses on KMIs instead of KPIs
- His unique marketing strategy
- His views on link building
- How he grows his email list
- His keyword research and content creation process
- The tools he uses
- His biggest challenge to date
- The lessons he's learned over the years
- His main mistake
- His advice for other entrepreneurs
- Meet Gareth Bain
- Gareth’s UK Adventure Begins
- Gareth Takes the Plunge
- Got Legs Digital is Born
- How Got Legs Digital Works
- How Gareth Fell in Love with Growth Marketing
- How Gareth Measures Success
- Gareth’s Number One Marketing Strategy
- A Unique Strategy That Works for Gareth
- How SEO Aligns With Got Legs’ Philosophy
- His Views on Link Building
- How He Grows His Email Database
- Gareth on Content Creation
- The Keyword Research Process
- Achieving Current Revenue Levels
- How Gareth Hooks Clients
- The Tools He Can’t Live Without
- Gareth’s Biggest Challenges
- His Proudest Accomplishment
- Lessons He’s Learned Along the Way
- Gareth’s Main Mistake
- His Advice for Others Entrepreneurs
Meet Gareth Bain
My name is Gareth, and I’m originally from Cape Town, South Africa, but I have been living in London, England, since 2014.
At 22, I started my first business, which failed within the first year. Essentially I bought a local franchise for a unique advertising board company in Cape Town, South Africa.
Owners could write on the board, which would glow and get people’s attention. It was very popular in bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. But it failed because I did not have the business know-how at that stage, and it was sheer grit and determination.
I would drive from one place to another place trying to sell these boards. Most of the time, the decision maker was not there, or I needed to return later. There was only one product as well, so once it was sold, there was no recurring revenue. I was able to keep it afloat for 8 months, but I realized that it was not a scalable business. But it taught me a lot.
This was my first taste of entrepreneurial life. I wanted more, but I had a lot to learn.
That inspired me to study marketing and public relations to understand the fundamentals of business better. After my studies, I worked for Ogilvy and Cape Town International Airport, where I played a pivotal role in facilitating the Confederations Cup and the World Cup in 2010.
After the World Cup, I realized that it was time to move on, and I wanted to use my experience and knowledge to positively impact the world. So I resigned from a senior role in a very good company paying 2 bonuses per year to fly over to the United Kingdom in search of bigger and brighter opportunities.
Gareth’s UK Adventure Begins
When I arrived, I had no job, no place to stay, and very little savings in the bank. But what I did have was the passion, drive, and determination to succeed.
Fast forward 5 years, and again I had the feeling that I wanted more, as my current journey was not congruent with where I wanted my life to be.
By this stage, I had met the love of my life, and we were due to be married on the 29th (leap year) of February 2020. I knew that if I wanted to pursue my passion and live a purposeful life, I would need to take a leap of faith.
Gareth Takes the Plunge
On Friday, the 13th of March, 2020, I handed in my notice to start my own business, walking away from a company in the seed phase of funding, where I had equity.
I have always been driven; initially, I thought that my driving force, like many others, was money. But after years of not feeling fulfilled, I have realized that my driving force is living a life of purpose and making an impact on others.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think about how blessed I am in my life. Here is this young man from a small fishing village at the tip of Africa who has started a marketing business in London, helping hundreds of businesses and people live better lives.
Got Legs Digital is Born
Got Legs Digital is a very young, bootstrapped startup that is looking to achieve amazing things. The company started in March 2020 and helps businesses to “get legs” and grow while at the same time helping amputee survivors “get legs” and reclaim their independence.
To date, we have helped 300+ people get prosthetic legs, and we’re on track to reach our target of 400 prosthetic legs donated by the end of 2022.
How Got Legs Digital Works
As a business, we build marketing automation to help companies systemize their business, better understand their customers, and be able to scale their business very quickly.
There are so many agencies out there that are good at Facebook, Google, or email marketing, and it can be hard for business owners to decide which service is best for their business. We sit down with the owner to better understand their needs and then build an automated marketing machine for them.
Business owners want simplicity, and they want to know that if they spend money on marketing, they’re getting the best return. We help businesses achieve that, and then we show them how to run the systems themselves to be cost-effective for the business.
Many people look at marketing as an expense, but we actually build an asset of value into the business, which helps generate leads and new business regularly. This helps scalability, findability, and sellability as there is data behind the customer journey.
Got Legs Digital is the first ethical growth marketing agency in the UK. We help businesses understand their customer's buying journey and then build an automated marketing machine to help service them.
How Gareth Fell in Love with Growth Marketing
I have been in marketing for over 15 years and have worked across many different aspects. First, I worked at large corporations like Amex, Blackstone, and MoneyGram and then at small bootstrapped startups.
I found growth marketing the most interesting because it brings all marketing facets together. I don't believe that one channel will do it, so growth marketing appealed to me. When you work at startups and scale-ups, you need to experiment with everything, and this was really where I started to hone my skills and get good at growth.
How Gareth Measures Success
As a growing, young, bootstrapped company, we’re seeing our revenue numbers increase yearly, which is great. It means that we’re heading in the right direction.
As we build systems and procedures into our business, we can bring on more people to help us grow. Considering that there has been a global pandemic followed by what looks like a long recession, we’re doing really well.
In our first year of business, we were able to impact 137 people through our prosthetic legs initiative. We aim to reach our target this year in prosthetic leg donations and impact the lives of 400 people. This is only possible if companies continue to work with us and allow us to do the good work we do, both for them as a business and those in need.
Gareth’s Number One Marketing Strategy
It’s funny, for a growth marketing agency, we do not have a big marketing strategy. For us, it’s more of a mindset shift.
Obviously, we use your standard marketing channels like Facebook, Google, email, and PR, but we do it in a way that adds value to others.
A Unique Strategy That Works for Gareth
An example of a marketing strategy that’s working well for us right now is that our team sets aside a few hours every week to offer free marketing consultancy to SME businesses.
It’s not a hard sell; all we do is offer value and point out areas of improvement. We find that the people we speak to can see that we know what we’re talking about and often tend to work with us. We build trust, confidence, and we give value first before getting anything back in return.
How SEO Aligns With Got Legs’ Philosophy
SEO is very important. Having the right SEO strategy can make or break a business. An SEO strategy works well and aligns with Got Legs Digital because it’s a pull strategy and provides people with value first, without expecting anything in return.
However, there are only 9 spots available on page 1 of Google, so you need to be creative with your strategy. Focusing on YouTube SEO and "People also ask" are key features of any SEO strategy.
The Google algorithm is continuously changing, and so should your SEO strategy. What worked 3 years ago is no longer working, so agencies need to start thinking outside the box.
His Views on Link Building
Link building is very important as it helps with third-party endorsements and traffic. Digital PR is especially useful in link building if you have the right message to get out there. Gone are when you could buy a few high DA links, and your site would rank. With Google focusing on EAT, the Penguin, and Hummingbird updates, it’s more about user experience and engagement.
With work with others to help us get the links we need. Because we focus on growth, it’s a very important part of the puzzle; however, there are many other aspects. In trying to keep the team lean, we work with others who do this as their main focus.
What hasn't worked for a while is just buying links in random sectors. It’s more about relevance and engagement. There are also a lot of AI tools that can help you write articles. Google does not look very favorably at this because there is a lot of duplication.
Make sure your content is original, well-written, well-researched, and adds value. There is so much noise out there at the moment, and very little of it is valuable.
How He Grows His Email Database
We do have an email list, and I believe that it’s very important for every business to own its own data. As they say, “The money is in the list.”
Having a good database of fresh leads or cold prospects is important. As long as you’re offering value and putting their needs first, your open rates will be high, your engagement rates will be high, and this ultimately helps with deliverability. It’s definitely not about bombarding your list with “buy my product” emails.
We have a few ways that we grow our email database. We have some lead generation tools that business owners can download, we have some helpful guides and tools, and we’re asked to speak at a few events, so when we offer free strategy sessions, people bite our hands off.
We also sometimes reach out to businesses if we know we can help them. We find their details online and then send them an email or a LinkedIn request. It’s very casual because we’re not selling anything. We’re merely pointing out where they can improve and offering them help.
Gareth on Content Creation
We try to create content that is informative and engaging for business owners. Obviously, we start with keyword research to find out what people are searching for in the market. There is no point in writing an article if no one will read it. Everything that we do is with the business owner in mind.
We identify a problem, formulate a solution, research the keywords and search phrases associated with that term, and then do our best to write an article that answers all the questions associated with the problem. We use a mix of written and audiovisual means to get our message across.
The Keyword Research Process
First, we identify a problem. Then we associate categories to that problem and perform keyword research.
For example, if we were writing an article about buying a car, we would create categories like new cars, second-hand cars, car services, and makes and models. Then, under each category, we would research keywords and see which have good search volume and relatively low competition.
We also look for intent in the research that we do. Once we have our keywords, we start drafting the content. In terms of tools, we use SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Keywords Everywhere.
Achieving Current Revenue Levels
Got Legs Digital has only been operational since March 2020, so we are still a very young company to be making 6 figures a year. Considering that we are bootstrapping the business and not taking on additional funding, our growth will be slower, but it allows us to build the brand as we go.
How Gareth Hooks Clients
I’m a great believer in omnichannel marketing, so I would recommend resources relating to this. However, I would say that you want to build a brand first and find your position in the market before you take your message to the market.
If, for example, we said that we were a digital marketing agency, I’m pretty sure not many people would still be reading this interview. However, coming out and saying that we are an ethical agency and we help both businesses and people to “get legs,” then people want to know more, and it's more of an interesting story. Talk about your passion and bring everyone along for the ride.
The Tools He Can’t Live Without
This is a great question, and I’m sure this differs among entrepreneurs. My three most useful tools are:
Screencast-o-Matic: This is a screen recording software that allows me to shoot short videos about anything. This tool has saved me hours upon hours of time when briefing changes to designers, illustrating things to clients or providing concepts to strategy documents. A short 1-minute video eliminates the need for a 20-minute email or a 1-hour Zoom call.
Toggl: It’s a great time management tool that tracks work hours and allows you to label what you did and who it was for. No longer spending hours in excel updating timesheets, now we just switch on Toggle, and we’re good to go. It also has great downloadable reports and is easy to integrate into dashboards.
Calm app: Being an entrepreneur is hard work, so it is important that you allow your mind to have some downtime. The Calm app helps me with meditation, clear thinking, and stress management. Having a clear, calm mind every day helps to keep me focused. I recommend the Calm app not only for entrepreneurs but for everyone.
Gareth’s Biggest Challenges
Like with many growing businesses, I would say that staffing and cash flow would be our biggest concerns.
Finding the right people is challenging at times. We have started to hire based on personality and beliefs and people that align with our goals and work ethic. We are in the process of building SOPs within the business to help new starters get up to speed and maintain a consistent quality level. We also believe in training and offer it to anyone who wants it. If they have the right attitude, then we want them in the team, and the skills can be taught.
Regarding cash flow, we need to do better at managing our own funnel. I would prefer a nice constant cash flow every month rather than ups and downs throughout the year. It’s hard sometimes to plan when your cash flow is inconsistent. But this is mainly because we don't push hard in marketing, and most of our clients are referred to us based on our great work with other clients.
His Proudest Accomplishment
I would have to say that our biggest accomplishment has been the ability to help +300 (soon to be 400) people receive prosthetic legs and make a meaningful impact on their lives.
I had the privilege to visit one of the centers in Tanzania in October 2022 and saw the great work taking place. I met Ruth, a 13-year-old girl who lives with her 5 brothers and sisters and was a recipient of one of our prosthetic legs. She is very sociable with her friends and hopes to become a nurse when she finishes school to help others.
These are the inspirational stories that make it all worthwhile. Knowing that we have helped so many people and will continue to help them in the future is my biggest accomplishment as an entrepreneur. What we are doing as a growth marketing agency in London is having a far-reaching impact in Africa.
Lessons He’s Learned Along the Way
There are many things that I know now that I didn't when I started out, but I think the two that come to mind are:
- Learn to say NO
- You don't have to do everything
Learn to say no to people who are negative, as well as clients that have unrealistic expectations. When you first start out, you take what you can get and grow as you get more clients. However, working with the wrong types of clients prevents you from finding the right types of clients. Know your worth and say no more than you say yes.
There’s an African saying that goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” Surrounding yourself with excellent people helps your mindset and gives you the confidence to scale and grow a business. Just because you’re the business owner, doesn't mean that you need to be the smartest person or do everything.
Gareth’s Main Mistake
As a person, I’m too trusting of people, and I believe that the world is a good place. There have been times when we have worked with clients on either rush orders or last-minute deadlines without the correct procedures in place. So a few times clients have just disappeared without paying us for the work we’ve done or they have simply just run out of money.
I want to overdeliver for our clients, so I take them at their word, and we steam ahead. Then when it comes time for payment, they just disappear.
I need to be more business focused in our approach, and if things are that urgent or the deadline is fast approaching, then the funds should be made available. It's very sad, but a few businesses have done that to us, but I am much wiser now.
His Advice for Others Entrepreneurs
There’s no better time than now to start a business. There are so many opportunities out there, and when you open your mind up, you will see them. Here are some bits of advice that have helped me.
- Before you go out and buy stock, build a website, or offer a service, first test the market. Does the market need what you’re offering? If the answer is yes, then scale up; if the answer is no, you have saved yourself thousands.
- Running a business is not necessarily about the products and services you sell but about your mindset. I would recommend to anyone starting a business to get a coach to help them through the early stages. All the best athletes in the world have coaches, so why shouldn't you?
- Be agile and move fast. Try something. If it works, great! If it doesn't, move on. Keep iterating and changing until you find your sweet spot. Larger, more established companies take a long time to adjust; this is for your benefit. Being fast to market beats the perfection of products every day of the week.
- Start building systems and procedures into your business so that you can work your way out of a job. You want to work on your business and not in it, so you need to take what you know and systemize the process to get others to do the work for you.
These are only a few suggestions off the top of my head. Please feel free to reach out to me if you are starting a business and need someone to talk to.
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