Nick Bell, in his humble yet charismatic manner, is a client who truly encapsulates the meaning of the term ‘out-of-the-box’. A creative and non-conformal thinker, the 35-year-old founder of Australia’s largest digital agency WME, was introduced to me by an existing client. He had had some previous experience with a PR agency but was looking for a new, fresh approach and was keen to chat.
Originally a country boy from Victoria, this sometimes-cheeky always compassionate entrepreneur has a story that could motivate the most unexpected individuals. From uni dropout, to hotel porter, professional golfer, and now tech influencer, Nick is one of the most driven, passionate and honest clients I have had the pleasure of working with.
Nick and his company, WME, have been recognised for their achievements through a variety of awards (Deloitte Technology Fast 50, Anthill cool company awards, Telstra Business Awards, My Business Awards) and Nick is now being asked to speak at events where he can share his learning’s and experience with other aspiring entrepreneurs.
He is astute at reading people, and he is genuinely interested in interacting with all walks of life, a quality born from ‘doing some of the worst jobs in the world’ he says. Here are six things you might not know about the country boy that once sold his school sandwiches to fund his way to Europe.
Nick grew up on a sheep and cattle farm 1.5 hours outside of Melbourne. His neighbours lived 1km away. With his brothers and sisters moving out of home when he was 10, you could say he was charged with the job of entertaining himself.
“I had to find my own fun, away from rounding up sheep and helping my dad fix tractors. There was nothing to do, so that’s when I actually took up golf and I turned my paddock into a golf course.”
That might seem an astounding feat for a 10 year old, but knowing Nick you’ll see he can acutely harness his focus, something he equates to his upbringing. “My dad was very traditional, all about manners maketh the man. I had a strict upbringing, which I think helps me focus the way I do and channel my energy into output.”
Nick knew early on that sheep shearing was not for him. He had his sights set on London, and he was determined to make his way there.
“I used to sell my lunch to make extra money. I would tell my mum I was so hungry that she’d give me extra lunches and snacks, which I’d auction off on the bus. I was earning thousands a year as a teenager. My mum had no idea, she just thought I was just a really hungry kid. It was really the first taste of working for myself and it taught me social skills and how to manage people, even if they were just kids.”
Nick saved all the money and jetsetted off to London, then went travelling before returning to Sydney and picking up a job as a hotel porter before going into professional golfing.
Though he is still merely a two finger typer, Nick went on to find a job as a data entry assistant. Quickly, he learnt how to do sales and within two years was the General Manager of the company. From there he left and started his own skincare company, SkinB5, but later sold his share to his business partner.
Having experimented with Search Engine Optimisation for SkinB5, Nick’s instincts told him this was a market ready for a surge.
“The way I saw it, anyone that has an online business was going to be using google to help others find them. If the whole population was going to use google and every business was going to use it – then why not be a part of it. It was a no brainer.”
After seven years of a rapidly expanding and growing business in WME, Nick still believes there is so much more to achieve. He’s focused on training people properly, reinvesting back into the business and finding other startups to invest in.
“There are too many people in business that look at the short term gain and if you do that you will die out in the first three years. I don’t drive around in a Ferrari, I drive around in a pretty simple car because I invest every single dollar back into the business.
“I’m a pretty normal guy, I like catching up with friends, having a good glass of wine, good food, and travelling when I can.”
“I’m all about mindset: think about where you want to be and visualise how you’re going to get there. There’s no such thing as can’t, there’s always a solution. Be sound of mind. At the end of the day, if you can push through the negative stuff, and the idea is sound, you will get there in the end.”
By Samantha Dybac – Founder, Sammway