Following several years working as a pay-per-click marketer in agencies both big and small, Gemma Renton was burned out. She created her own virtual agency, reversing the industry trend of high employee churn and low productivity and replacing it with trust and freedom in her staff, wherever and whenever they work.
My name is Gemma Renton. My business is Vine Street Digital.
Vine Street Digital helps businesses to grow and expand using online advertising.
Unfortunately the burnout happened to me. I was overloaded; I was working a lot, I was very stressed, and it affected my mental and physical health. I wanted a better life for myself; I wanted freedom and flexibility and I wanted to also be able to give that to other people as well.
I’m really lucky to have great employees and they work really hard and they add so much value to the business. I think in hindsight I was originally apprehensive to employ people; it seemed like a big hurdle and a big step, but I think I really underestimated how much value they were going to add to the business.
You start a business because you want to make your own life better and you believe that in the process you can make other people’s lives better too, and there is no greater feeling than doing that every day.
Gemma Renton noticed some disturbing trends whilst working in the pay-per-click marketing industry. After several years with agencies, both big and small, she realised a ‘senior employee’ was someone who had lasted 12 months.
In some instances, employees were overloaded with too many accounts, productivity suffered, clients were unhappy and staff turnover was extremely high. Funky workplaces with pool tables and bean bags did not solve the problem.
Burning out herself, Gemma sensed a better way and, after a break, started her own agency. Flying solo at the helm of Vine Street Digital, her client list doubled in the first year and she needed help.
How could employees be given the freedom to pursue a work life balance which worked for them, while maintaining high client satisfaction? The answer was to make trust and respect the core values of Vine Street Digital and to swap the real office for a virtual, 100% online work environment.
Happy and highly productive staff, who choose when and where they work, validated Gemma’s decision. There have been numerous other benefits to the business as well. Vine Street Digital can draw on a large talent pool, as employees are not tied to the traditional work/life paradigm. They can travel, raise children or live remotely, while working.
Gemma notes the foundations of a successful online work environment include providing clear expectations on work quantity and quality, as well as ensuring all staff are effective managers and communicators.
Becoming a totally virtual business gave Vine Street Digital access to new markets in multiple time zones, including America, Asia and Europe, meaning their client base grew rapidly. With the power of the Internet, Gemma’s small team of Queenslanders spend each day helping other small businesses from all over the world achieve their business goals.
- Read our guides on employing people, including finding and developing staff.
- Learn about managing flexible working arrangements.
- Discover support and funding for entrepreneurs and start-ups from Advance Queensland.