Entrepreneur Nick Bell tells us how to start a small business

Nick Bell is one of Australia’s most renowned entrepreneurs. He’s CEO of the WME group of companies, an avid risk taker, an angel investor, personally worth $75-million and friends with Richard Branson (how cool is that?) – all at 35 years of age.

But don’t be fooled. He’s just a boy from Mount Macedon at heart. That’s right. Just like many business owners, Nick comes from humble beginnings.

So how did he do it? How does a young 20-something from country Victoria make it big? In this article, Nick shares with us his 7 top tips on how to start a small business.

1. Push forward with a sense of urgency

The first thing you need, Nick says, is a sense of urgency: “You need to move quickly. Make the most of every opportunity.” He believes that even when you have your doubts, keep an open mind and adjust things as you go.

This sense of urgency also applies when dealing with people. Every single customer is just as important as your last.

“If you get an email from someone who’s interested in your business, it doesn’t matter whether it’s 9pm at night or a Sunday afternoon – jump on the phone and call them. If they don’t answer, email them straight away.”

He continues, “Or, if they have a question about your business and you can’t answer them straight away, make sure you give them timeframes on when you’ll get back to them – and meet that timeframe.” If you’re really passionate about what you do, putting in the time to connect with potential customers isn’t a chore.

2. Give it everything you’ve got

A successful business doesn’t grow from nowhere.

“You need to get in the trenches and be ready to trade in your Saturdays for Mondays.”

Be willing to work around the clock. Give up your day job – or at a bare minimum, scale back the time you spend on other commitments. “It’s difficult to launch a successful business while you’re working full-time. It’s possible, but extremely, extremely, extremely difficult.

3. Learn how to be charismatic

When you’re working solo, you’re not just managing operations. You’re also in charge of sales. So if talking to people about what you do – and convincing them of your worth – isn’t in your nature, Nick has this one simple piece of advice: learn. When Nick started the WME group of companies, he only had $400 capital in his pocket. The only way forward was to pick up the phone and relentlessly cold-call potential customers with confidence until he secured his first sale.

4. Don’t be afraid to take your business to the next level

“You can’t do everything on your own.”

Once you’ve got income coming in through the door, recognise when it’s time to seek help. Dedicate time to finding employees who are as passionate about your business as you are. And learn to delegate, delegate, delegate! Recruiting team members and trusting them to carry your business can be daunting, but “if you don’t hire anyone, you won’t grow.”

5. Choose hunger over experience

“When I was ready to hire my first employee, I had to decide whether I wanted someone who’d been in the industry for a very long time – or someone with less experience but a clear hunger for success. In the end, I chose hunger over experience, and that person made me my first million dollars.”

6. Reinvest everything back into your business

How did Nick afford to hire his first employee? By living on bread and water. Don’t splurge your profits on champagne and oysters – back yourself. Reinvest and save for those first employees that will help your business grow. Sticking to a tight budget will pay off in the long run – you just need to give yourself the best chance of flourishing as quickly as you can.

7. This day and age, use social media to your advantage

When you’re starting at ground zero, your budget is also zero. So if you’re looking for a DIY way to market your business – and you have the time – use social media.

“Use social media wisely today, and it will take you places. Other than the cost of your time, it’s free. Use it as a platform to showcase your knowledge. If people contact you via social media, go to the effort of answering them – even if what you have to say is a long, complicated answer.”


*image: Corporate Portraits Melbourne