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Melbourne rich-lister who started his own company with $350 in his pocket is now worth $274MILLION

An Australian rich-lister who dropped out of university and started his own business from scratch with just $350 is now worth $274 million.

Nick Bell, 40, built one of the country’s largest digital marketing agencies, WME, Australia from his bedroom and sold it in 2017 for $39 million.

The Melbournian appeared on the Australian Financial Review Rich List five times and created an empire of 12 digital agencies across Asia and South America.

Now he is giving his top tips to other budding Australian entrepeneurs who want to follow in his footsteps.

Nick Bell (right) has co-founded company mentoring platform Lisnic with business partner Lisa Teh (left). Bell has an estimated personal net worth of $274million after starting out with $350 to his name in 2008

Nick Bell (right) has co-founded company mentoring platform Lisnic with business partner Lisa Teh (left). Bell has an estimated personal net worth of $274million after starting out with $350 to his name in 2008

NICK BELL’S KEYS TO BUSINESS SUCCESS 

  • Look for a business that is broken and clunky and think about how you would fix it
  • Come up with a business idea that will save people time and make their lives more convenient
  • Don’t overthink whether your business idea will work or not – just do it

Mr Bell started with just $350 to his name in 2008 after quitting university, but quickly turned a profit by selling search engine optimisation services to Australian companies.

‘At age 24 I had a skincare business that made absolutely nothing,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘I started this new venture where I was cold calling companies non-stop and working my way from New Zealand to the Australian west coast.

‘Someone sent me a cheque for $10,000 in the first three days and within six months we had $1 million worth of sales – it grew extremely quickly.’

In the beginning, he lived on a diet of two-minute meals as he tried to convince companies to pay him to improve their ranking on Google.

But Mr Bell soon built a client list including NAB, Rolls Royce, McLaren and Fitness First and now has more than 1,000 staff working across his 12 agencies.

This year, Mr Bell launched business coaching service Lisnic with his co-founder Lisa Teh – helping companies find mentors who have worked for some of the world’s largest corporations. 

He said one of the keys to his success was providing ‘amazing service’ and making his service indispensable to his clients.

‘If we receive an email, we have to respond in 10 minutes. If someone calls you have to answer it immediately,’ he said.

‘If you promise one thing, deliver what you promise. There’s a lot of cowboys out there, but when they don’t deliver their reputation goes to c**p.’

Melbourne-based Mr Bell, 40, built one of the country's largest digital marketing agencies WME Australia from his bedroom - selling the company in 2017 for $39million

Melbourne-based Mr Bell, 40, built one of the country’s largest digital marketing agencies WME Australia from his bedroom – selling the company in 2017 for $39million

He told aspiring business owners waiting for their light-bulb idea to look at services that are broken and clunky, and think of how they could improve them.

‘How can you provide value and service where someone is not already providing it,’ he said.

‘A perfect example is the taxi industry. Before it took half an hour to get a cab but now you can get one in four minutes.

‘As a society we value saving time and convenience. If you’re giving someone that you’re going to succeed.’

Mr Bell started doing aerial gymnastics during the coronavirus pandemic. He credits the exercises with making him more energised at work

Mr Bell started doing aerial gymnastics during the coronavirus pandemic. He credits the exercises with making him more energised at work

Mr Bell has built a client list including NAB, Rolls Royce, McLaren and Fitness First and now has a team of more than 1,000 staff

Mr Bell has built a client list including NAB, Rolls Royce, McLaren and Fitness First and now has a team of more than 1,000 staff

Mr Bell said one of the biggest mistakes people make is overthinking whether they should go into business.

‘Just do it. Fix mistakes quickly and start moving forwards,’ he said. ‘If you hesitate the idea will die.’

‘How many times do you think I had this idea but then someone goes and does it instead.’ 

He said if Australians chose to take the plunge into the business world, they had to go all in. 

Bell told aspiring business owners looking for their light-bulb idea to look at services that are broken and clunky and think how they could improve them

Bell told aspiring business owners looking for their light-bulb idea to look at services that are broken and clunky and think how they could improve them

‘If you’re doing it as a side hustle after work you have to do it 6-11pm not 7-8pm otherwise it’s not worth it,’ he said.

‘If you’ve got a mortgage and kids it’s very hard to go all in.’

During the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Bell started doing aerial gymnastics and said the exercises made him more productive at work.

‘I’ve been doing weights for years but my body was stiffening up and this has been a game changer,’ he said.

‘I’m all for exercising in the morning as people will feed off your energy during the day.’ 


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