Interview with Joanna Gaudoin, founder of Inside Out Image
What’s your career background?
After completing my degree in International Management and French, I started work in marketing for a large American company, so I know far too much about toilet roll, tampons and nappies! After three years, I decided to move into consultancy to broaden the work I was doing and to move into central London from Kent.
I did that for around seven years, mostly marketing effectiveness but also some commercial due diligence consultancy in mergers and acquisitions.
However, I always felt I was never really doing what I was meant to and so started work with a career transition coach in 2011, having no idea where that was going to end up and it’s a long story, but later that year I retrained in personal image and impact and other related skills. I setup Inside Out Image that autumn and I’ve never looked back.
Where did that idea come from?
I realised during my career transition coaching that I wanted to help people develop and grow, I also realised the importance of people developing non-technical skills to succeed at work hence re-training in the areas that I did.
My business has changed a great deal over the last decade or so and I have upskilled during that time, for instance I am now an expert in navigating office politics. Most of the work I started out doing was related to appearance and confidence but now I cover a much broader range of skills that fundamentally help people communicate themselves and engage with others in every professional scenario to build great relationships at work.
What makes you best able to help your clients?
I often joke that I have had real jobs before running my own business and I understand very well the often less talked about, non-technical skills that are required to succeed at work.
I have a lot of experience working with different people both in groups and as individuals, predominantly in Financial and Professional Services but not exclusively. I believe I am approachable and highly practical in my approach to working with clients.
Who’s your target audience?
Most of my clients are middle to senior level people who are very bright and technical. From an individual perspective, when they come to work with me, they have typically hit some sort of challenge or barrier at work that means they need to work on and develop their non-technical skills.
The sorts of challenges I help with including building a great professional profile, improving an individual’s visibility within an organisation or a sector, helping them find a new role and positioning them for it, working on their personal impact to improve how they are perceived, working on challenging relationships either upwards, sideways or managing others. I’m very fortunate as every day is so different.
I’m also a speaker after events which can include large conferences, events for professional bodies and networks within organisations. I deliver a lot of workshops, seminars, master classes and training for different organisations. Sometimes these are stand alone, other times they are part of a larger programme and this is particularly the case for law firms.
Over the last couple of years, I have also written and published a book Getting On: Making work work so that took a lot of time but is a great way people can access the advice and guidance I’ve been giving to clients over the last decade also.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
Most of my business comes from networking and referrals. When I started my business, I networked probably three to five times a week and I now know a lot of people! Even several years after I met somebody, I often get contacted about work and by delivering excellent work, you can be assured of getting referrals which is a great way for someone running their own business to get new work.
I also work with an amazing marketing strategist who helps me make sure I’m doing the right things and have a focused plan rather than trying to do everything.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
I think when I first started out it was working out appropriate pricing and also getting people to see the value of the work I do. That is now a lot easier as the culture has shifted and people realise how vital the sort of skills I help people develop are, to succeed at work and for it to be enjoyable.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
That’s really difficult to answer as lots of really positive things have happened for me. I’ve had the opportunity to deliver work in some amazing locations and for some very well-known organisations that I’m not allowed to mention!
I get invited to events at great bars and restaurants and other interesting venues as well. However, the best thing for me is seeing an amazing outcome for a client and that they can move on and fulfil their potential.
Why is work so important to you?
For me, my work is a key part of my identity although not all of it. As a Christian, I really see my work as my purpose in life and the way to help and serve others. I want to be able to sit in the care home or wherever when I’m elderly and look back and feel like I achieved things and helped people.
Who inspires you?
From a work perspective, I get lots of inspiration from people in my network, I have a very supportive husband in terms of my work and my dad was a great role model for what he achieved in the workplace.
How do you balance your work with your family?
Even though I don’t have any children, I think this is a continual challenge to have a balanced life. It’s not easy though and certainly a continual challenge for me. Especially as I really enjoy my work!
I’m a very sociable person and have lots of friends so I certainly don’t work all the time. My husband runs his own business as well so he understands the challenge and I think we have a really good understanding of one another and what running your own business entails but we certainly make time to go on holiday and do things we enjoy together.
I am also very into exercise so making time for that is key. We don’t have a large family but spending time with my parents regularly is important to me, especially as they get older.
What are the three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
I never thought even 12 years ago when I started my career transition coaching that I would run my own business, I genuinely had no idea what I would end up doing, just that I couldn’t do more of the same.
Work isn’t going to be 100% enjoyable all the time but if you really don’t feel you are using your gifts and strengths then do make time to consider what else you might do with your precious life and if you need to (which I strongly recommend) then find an expert to help you work on it.
Build your network, that is something I highly recommend to everybody whether you are in a corporate role or thinking of running your own business. It’s not just for people who have business development responsibility. It is absolutely invaluable for getting advice, learning what’s out there and finding new opportunities.
Finally, if you do run your own business then make sure in time when you can afford it you get the support you need. It can be very hard to give up control but you need to make great use of your time so for tasks that are not really your skill set and you can pay someone less per hour than you earn yourself you should definitely be delegating them.
Find out more about Inside Out Image.