Women in Business Q&A: Grace Lever

Grace Lever

Grace Lever is a marketing funnel specialist and educator working with female entrepreneurs, helping them to create balanced, profitable, lifestyle businesses.

Having launched a number of successful businesses, Grace wanted to use her experience and knowledge to empower and equip other female business owners to grow their own lifestyle enterprises. She launched Gracelever.com, providing practical guidance and support to ensure other women have the tools to turn their ideas into a profitable business that fits in with their life. As the previous owner of five small businesses over the years, she has experienced all the pains, challenges and frustrations all entrepreneurs do at some point in their careers.

Grace connects with these women through regular 'Doing Days', live workshops that take place across Australia, where attendees can learn practical, hands-on processes and proven strategies that can be applied to their own businesses. She also launched 'The Doing Academy', an online members group providing female entrepreneurs with the tools for them to develop intelligent, automated and long-term strategies to ensure a profitable lifestyle business. In May 2016, GraceLever.com launched in the US, providing thousands of female business owners stateside with the opportunity to access the brand and build their enterprises.

Grace is also the director and co-founder of digital marketing agency, Inbound Marketing and in the last financial year helped her clients generate over $20 million in revenue.

Having built a business entirely online, in 2015, Grace was able to relocate from Sydney to her favourite part of Australia, the wine region of the Adelaide Hills, where she lives her lifestyle dream with her husband and puppy.

Grace is the Adelaide ambassador for the League of Extraordinary Women. She was a finalist in the 2015 Telstra Young Business Women's Awards.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I've been very lucky, I grew up in a really supportive, encouraging environment. My parents fostered a real entrepreneurial spirit in me and never once told me I couldn't do anything or shouldn't take risks. I never thought there were any limitations - whether being female, or coming from a small town - so I was quite confident from a young age.

In some ways this is why I set up the business - it was a real eye-opener fo me when I entered the female-entrepreneur space that so many women didn't have the support I'd experienced, and many of them had been told they couldn't achieve their goals. This has made me more driven to empower and equip them to succeed.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at GraceLever.com?
I spent several years working in corporate, and whilst I enjoyed some aspects of it, it made me fully aware that I was far better placed to be an entrepreneur, and that's why I've run my own businesses for the past eight years. Working in corporate taught me how to communicate with many different personalities. This helped when running my own business as I need to have confidence when dealing with all sorts of people - whether it's the hugely diverse women in my community, my team members or rooms of 'suits' who I'm discussing high level financial information with.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at GraceLever.com?
I'm really fortunate to receive positive feedback from the female entrepreneurs I work with on a daily basis, who are loving the impact that being empowered and equipped in their business is having on themselves and their friends and family. It's really rewarding to see how the community that I've started has grown into something really special, and to see the ripple effect this has on the wider community.

In terms of milestones, discovering I'm in front of one million women a month was pretty special, as was reaching our first 1,000 members of my 'Doing Academy' in less than a year.

The biggest challenge I've overcome along the way was discovering that what my community of entrepreneurs 'really really want' may not be actually what they were telling me they wanted! Many women have asked me to build the business for them and initially I took this at face value, but in time I realised what they actually wanted was for me to empower and equip them to build the business themselves. They just weren't vocalising it that way.

Being close to the market and my members is critical to keep providing them what they really want and my biggest challenge is the ongoing quest to find this out.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
My biggest piece of advice is that if I'm finding an aspect of my business challenging, I say to myself: 'I'm an intelligent woman and everything is workout-able', because it always is!

Another piece of advice is for any aspiring entrepreneurs to figure out what their 'genius zone' is - the one thing they excel at that everyone else is in awe of but which comes naturally to her. It doesn't matter how much money you make unless you're doing what you are best at as this is what you'll enjoy and inevitably thrive at.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
I think it's that you can't do it all on your own. Just like it 'takes a village to raise a child' I believe it takes a team to build a business. I discovered what I was good at, and have outsourced the other elements. That way I can concentrate on what I enjoy, and flourish at - growing the business.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I set strict boundaries around the use of technology, such as a 'no technology in the bedroom' rule. I'm a champion of the philosophy that it is possible for a woman to have a successful business without sacrificing her personal life. There's no point making a lot of money if this is in spite of all other aspects of your life.

The way I'm able to do this is through automation, which means I can provide
my community with an exceptional customer experience without having to be online responding to emails 24/7. I follow a strict four-day week and with an awesome automation system in place I can do this guilt-free.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I'm very blessed in that I have so much support from friends and family but many women in the workplace don't have this. It makes me really sad to see how many women are totally on their own, with no-one fighting their corner or making them feel like their goals are achievable. That's partly why I launched The Doing Academy to provide a framework and community of women who were in the same boat and could share challenges, and wins, and bounce ideas off each other.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
What I've found most valuable from my mentors is being challenged. The ones I've worked with have been very strong and honest and have told me things that other people haven't because they know what I'm capable of. For example, in the past I had an idea for the business that I had my heart set on, and my mentor steered me away from it and onto a different path. At the time I was a bit despondent, but in time I realised it was totally the right path. With hindsight, I'm really grateful to have been given advice that wasn't what I wanted to hear, but that was the in my long-term interests.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
It's actually the 'ordinary' women who I come across on a daily basis who I admire the most. Every day, the women I connect with in the Academy and my wider community inspire me - there are so many amazing women out there pursuing their dreams whilst also juggling their busy lives as mothers, daughters, wives...

What do you want GraceLever.com to accomplish in the next year?
In the next twelve months, I want to extend our reach to empower and equip female entrepreneurs beyond Australia to build profitable lifestyle businesses. We are about to launch in the US and I'm so excited to see these plans come into fruition.

Further down the line, over the next five years I have a goal of reaching 10,000 female entrepreneurs worldwide, that is, empowering and equipping 10,000 women to have built businesses that are not only profitable, but that succeed in partnership with their personal lives, not in spite of them.