Spencer GoreWhen two gold-medal standard businesses combine – winning becomes the only logical outcome.

Spencer Gore set up the European Medical Group (EMG) in 2012 as a healthcare publisher, determined to give the medical profession a journal that would add value to their important work. Today, his specialist publication, European Medical Journal, has nearly half a million subscribers – but, like all great business stories, the vision does not stop there. The company now has a new mission, and it is one that it is well on the way to achieving. By 2025, EMG will be the go-to place for all healthcare professionals in Europe. In practical terms, that means that no other medical journal, website or publication will have a greater following, engender more trust, share more relevant information or have a more positive influence within the industry than EMG.

Even if you have no prior knowledge, interest in or concept of the healthcare industry, that should (on a business level, at least) capture your interest for two reasons: firstly, because it is a significant goal, and most businesses today are guilty of setting goals that are far too achievable (if they set any at all); and secondly, it should resonate with you because in a marketplace worth over $1,000 billion globally, being the go-to voice that everyone listens to is a significant and powerful position to occupy.

The final thing to say about Spencer’s excitingly ambitious vision, before revealing a bit more of his story, is that it started when he stumbled across a gap in a market and simply decided that he could fill the space

You are missing the point!

Before setting up EMG, Spencer worked for another publisher, which was responsible for a number of publications throughout the year. While it was a well-paid role, the hours were flexible, and the conditions suited his lifestyle, there just seemed to be something missing: and one day he worked out what it was. There was little point to his work or the publication! It seemed that articles, reviews, industry news and adverts were simply thrown together, with little regard for audience interest or relevance, and published whenever the publication was deemed ready.

Then, in 2005, he joined EMAP and began working on the third-largest exhibition in the UK, which ran every two years. It was a massive undertaking, and 90,000 professionals signed up for the event, with 45,000 of those eventually attending. A whole range of busy marketing activity had been employed for a year, building up to the exhibition, supported by strong communications while the event was running – but then it just stopped.

Once again, Spencer had the feeling that someone was missing the point and they were simply ‘doing the job’ then moving on to the next thing. There didn’t seem to be any thought given to what their customers needed. What about continuing to share relevant, useful information? What about updating and engaging with the 45,000 who were not able to make it?

Shortly after this, he was headhunted back to his previous employer (the aimless publisher) with the promise of a role with more purpose. During this time, he put together a proposal and business plan centred around publishing a journal directly after major exhibitions, with all the relevant, up-to-date industry news. Everyone seemed to like the concept, and eventually, Spencer found himself sitting in front of the board of directors excitedly presenting his proposal. The chairman loved it, saying, ‘It’s a great idea …’ then quickly followed that statement with, ‘… but we are not looking for any new ideas at the moment.’

A month later, he quit, and shortly after that the publisher folded.

Stepping into the dark to turn on the light

So, in 2008 – with his first child on the way, having recently bought a new house, the recession in full flight and surrounded by a world of negativity – Spencer Gore decided to start a new business. He persuaded a former colleague to join him in the venture and together they began turning his rejected business plan into a valuable and purposeful publication for the medical community.

As Steve Jobs once said, ‘It is easy to join the dots looking back,’ and that is very much the case for every successful business venture. However, people often fail to appreciate the boldness and faith in your own vision that is needed to begin searching for those dots in the darkness. The new publication quickly became a success, attracting the right sort of readership, full of content that mattered, and strategically timed to coincide with and support relevant industry events. Commercially, it was profitable, and even filled the income gap left by leaving well-paid jobs for its two owners. But it still hadn’t come anywhere near scratching the itch that had compelled Spencer to pursue this journey in the first place. He talked this over with his business partner numerous times, and it quickly became clear that their goals were diametrically opposed. One wanted an easy life and a regular income – the other still wanted to change the world. After a year of discussing options to buy out each other’s shares came to nothing, Spencer left in 2012 to set up EMG.

On the road to a gold-medal position

Finally, equipped with four years of practical hands-on experience and a laser-focused-idea, Spencer was free to explore the full potential of his vision. He was able to apply all the things that he knew worked, and bypass all of the things he had learned would get in the way. Gaining experience is all well and good; having the discipline and strength of mind to use what you have learned is what gives it value. The evidence that Spencer’s decision and direction were correct soon became abundantly clear. In year one, EMG had generated more turnover than the previous company had in its fourth year. The business has continued to grow every single year since then and generated profitable income consistently. Last year’s numbers were up significantly, again, with a 35% increase on the previous one. If ever you needed an example of vision, purpose and the application of lessons learned from previous experience producing results, you need look no further than EMG.

Today, the company employs 35 staff, works with 19 of the 20 top pharmaceutical companies in the world, and is on a direct heading towards its mission of becoming the go-to place for healthcare professionals in Europe. This mission is underpinned by the internal vision that every EMG employee works towards: becoming a gold-medal standard version of themselves and working as part of a Team GB-style, gold-medalfocused organisation.

Spencer first heard about Meades Group at an event run by The Platinum Club, in London, where Paul was speaking one evening. Sometime later, encouraged by the recommendation of another Meades customer whom he knew, Spencer agreed to a meeting and eventually started working with Meades. Within the first month, Paul had saved Spencer a five-figure sum, simply by asking the right questions, and his advice has continued to have a positive impact throughout the business.

When two gold-medal standard businesses combine – winning becomes the only logical outcome.

Five big business lessons from Spencer Gore:

  1. Have a clear, ambitious and purpose-driven goal (and make it one you believe in).
  2. Surround yourself with people who share your ambition (and employ gold-medal winners).
  3. Learn from everything that happens to you – good or bad.
  4. Take time out of your business to invest in learning from the best.
  5. Mindset is the basis of every success in life and business.
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