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Find your niche, ride the entrepreneurial wave, operate like a start-up: Nick Bell on his journey

Let’s get things straight: entrepreneurialism isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain type of person to really thrive in this lifestyle, and some people simply aren’t made to be entrepreneurs. For others however, entrepreneurialism is ingrained in their nature. It propels them forward, driving them to continually seek new opportunities wherein they can create fresh and innovative market openings.

My life as a serial entrepreneur began when I dropped out of a business degree at Victoria University. I had never been very study-driven, and four months into my course I decided to quit and establish an online skincare range instead. It was ultimately successful in terms of turning over a profit, yet didn’t personally fulfil me. I ended up selling the business and deciding to start up again from scratch – a decision that ultimately laid the foundations for a myriad of future business opportunities.

Going into business means backing yourself

The way I saw it, I had two choices – either go and work for someone else, or start my own business. I had nothing to lose, my overheads were minimal, and so I took the plunge and established my first digital marketing agency: WME. The world of SEO was quite new back then, so no one had really nailed it. I recognised this as a business opportunity and ran with it.

However, I wouldn’t have even made it past the planning stage if I hadn’t backed myself. Confidence is a key ingredient to achieving success and carving your path as an entrepreneur. It’s about avoiding over-analysing your business situations and understanding the objective/challenge, creating a plan of action, getting in the trenches and making it happen.

When you find your niche, the new business experience becomes addictive

Once I had experienced success unfold with WME, it only seemed natural for me to progress into my second, third and fourth digital businesses. I had cultivated a business model that suited me and that I could rely upon to shape and develop an entire hub of digital agencies: I created a platform of international WME offices; founded Nothing But Web; and co-founded Appscore and Hosting Australia. I realised when to work independently and when to engage business partners who could complement my strengths to ensure the businesses operate cohesively like a well-oiled machine.

It’s about knowing every crevice of your industry

I dabbled in other industries, such as hospitality, and invested in businesses outside my scope. I made one costly attempt at a restaurant investment, which I spent a year working on only to abandon one week before launch. I quickly learnt that taking a hands-off approach was a mistake. By channelling all my energy into digital marketing and growing WME from the ground up, I have had to learn every single aspect of the industry
from accounts, sales and finance, to the tech side of things and managing clients. Naturally, when you have no choice but to cover all bases, you are placed in good stead for starting up other businesses that work together to achieve synergy for example I recognised that web hosting paired naturally with my existing companies and product offerings and recently invest with industry expert Jonathan Horne to create Hosting Australia.

Always run your business like a start-up

Too many businesses these days want to splash their cash on marble boardroom tables and plush office chairs before they’ve even signed off on their first client, but it’s simply not necessary. I believe it’s important to only invest in what you can afford to lose, and to fully gauge where your money is going. I’ve always approached each new market endeavour sensibly, planting my focus solely on nourishing the foundations of the business in order for it to grow. As a result, I have been able to reap the benefits and continue to find new entrepreneurial voyages to embark on.


About the author

NickBellNick Bell is the founder and managing director of WME, an Australian-based full-suite digital marketing agency with offices in Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. He is also the co-founder of web design company Nothing But Web and mobile app development agency Appscore.

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Nick Bell

Nick Bell

Nick Bell is a five x AFR young rich-lister and founder of 12 global digital agencies including First Page Digital, Lisnic and Removify.

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