Amy Gough is the founder of Wanderlust Communications, a marketing consultancy based in Perth that provides a variety of marketing services including digital marketing, content creation, copywriting and social media strategy. Originally from the UK, Amy worked in PR and social media for brands including Morrisons Supermarkets, Sony Ericsson and Silver Cross. She moved to Kalgoorlie Boulder in 2011 with her then boyfriend (now husband) and began a marketing role at a large recreation centre, before becoming the General Manger of the Visitor Centre. This is where she fell in love with the tourism industry and knew it’s where she wanted to focus her efforts.
In 2014 she had her first child, and after her maternity leave was over in 2015, she set up Wanderlust Communications. The digital marketing agency specialises in tourism and destination marketing, as well as FMCG. Amy moved to Perth 5 years ago where she lived with her two young sons and husband.
Here’s our chat with Amy.
How did you come to start your business? Was there a particular spark or a significant turning point?
The birth of my first child was the turning point that gave me the courage to start my own business. I’d worked in PR and social media back in the UK, before moving to Kalgoorlie. I first had a marketing role and then took over as the General Manager of the Visitor Centre. When I left to go on maternity, I realised I really wanted to try something new and to combine my past experience with my new found love of the tourism industry. So, when it was time to return to work, I instead launched by business with my very first client.
When you initially started your business, what hurdles did you face?
The initial hurdles were balancing being a new mum with business life. I was learning about invoicing, pricing, quoting and going after new clients, all whilst also learning how to deal with daycare, weaning and everything else that comes with it. I was also only working 2 days a week, so it was a big lesson in time management! Noah was 9 months – so I was actually still popping to daycare at lunchtime to breastfeed him. It seems crazy looking back but I loved that I was able to go back to doing something I loved whilst having lots of time with my baby and still maintaining breastfeeding. I still believe mums are the most productive people on the planet – the stuff we can do in the space of 5 hours is amazing.
Who or what was integral to you overcoming these hurdles?
Asking for help, getting my husband involved more and investing in more childcare as my business grew. I was really lucky that my business scaled as my son grew up. When I became busier, I was ready for him to do an extra day at daycare – so it all felt pretty right. My husband was working FIFO at the time, so the week he was away was harder, but I’d often end up doing work in the evenings as I didn’t have much else to do once Noah was in bed! The weeks he was home he looked after Noah and I was able to work more. Over the years I started to employ contractors and a full time employee which really helped with my workload and allowed me to start working more on the business rather than just in it. I really relied on my team when I took some time off to have my second child, Louis, and now he’s three, I feel I’m really entering a new phase where I can really focus on growing the business.
What is a piece of advice you wish you had been told before starting your entrepreneurial journey?
I wish someone had told me how extreme it is to own your own business. It really is a rollercoaster. If I have a bad few months, it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed and think that’s it for my business! I worry about maintaining the flow of new clients and do feel the pressure of employing people. But most of the time, I love being my own boss and can’t believe how lucky I am to pick where and when I work, who I work with and what the future looks like.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The flexibility really is amazing. Not just when it comes to my working hours / days, but also when it comes to the clients we work with and who I employ. I am passionate about building a really positive workplace and as such, we offer really good renumeration and flexible working for our employees. I’m so lucky to work with the team I do and genuinely enjoy coming to work. We’re also getting to a point where I can be more selective about who we work with. We can pick clients that align with our values and avoid the red flag clients – which is a really great feeling.
How do you personally measure success?
There are a few things, but these are my top four measures.
- Balance – Being able to balance my time so I can focus on work, but also have time to spend with my kids whilst they’re young
- Clients - Being able to work with clients I admire and who appreciate the work we do
- Staff – Being able to employ and spend time with lovely people who make me laugh and who I can learn from
- Time off – I love taking time off and think it’s so necessary to avoid burn out. I’m also more patient and creative when I’ve had some down time. So being able to confidently leave work for a week without the world ending is a big one for me
How do you generate new ideas?
I’m most creative on my own and out of the office. If we’re preparing for a big pitch or a new project, I tend to go for a walk or a drive and let the ideas come and go. Then we normally work through things as a team, which I love as everyone always has some great ideas to share. Then I go off on my own again and rework ideas and let my thoughts crystallize. Time off and time away from emails are always the best remedy for when you’re stuck for creativity.
What keeps you up at night?
EVERYTHING! I struggle with my sleep if I’m busy or stressed and if I’m lying awake, I swear 100 thoughts rush through my head…… Did I handle that project well? Will that client continue with us in the new financial year? If they don’t, how will that affect cash flow? Did I book Noah’s dentist appointment? Is Louis up to date with his vaccinations? Did I set up the direct debit for the mortgage payment? I really need to go for a skin check. When will we be able to go back to the UK? Did I lock the back door…
I try to remember how lucky I am to have a full life, but I do struggle sometimes to manage everything. If I’m really struggling to get on top of it over a few weeks, I normally see that as a sign that something’s got to give. How can I get more help, what can I change or what can I let go of.
How do you make the most of your day? Any tips?
My time is pretty limited as I juggle school hours and Fridays off with my youngest, so I am very organised. I set my weekly plan on a Sunday night so I can arrive Monday morning ready to go. I try to time block and am playing with switching my emails off during certain times as I do get easily distracted. I have recently started to try and choose what I work on based on how I’m feeling. So I know I have a list of tasks to complete, but I choose what to work on based on what I want to do. For example, if I have a quiet day and feel like doing some writing; I’ll pick a copywriting task or write up a proposal. If I’m feeling a bit distracted and not focused, I’ll do smaller tasks like checking in on content scheduling, reviewing ad activity or brainstorming ideas for new business. I find this is working really well for me as I’m going with the flow of how I feel rather than pushing against it – it makes me much more efficient and productive.
Do you have any tips for work life balance?
Ask for help if you need it, and remember, things are always changing. I’ll find a situation works for a few months, then suddenly, it just stops working. That’s when I reevaluate and make changes. Do we need more childcare? Should I hire a cleaner to take off the pressure at home? Is it time to hire a new contractor? It’s a constantly evolving thing and I like to be fluid with my approach. Remember everyone’s idea of balance is different; so you do what works for you.