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Back to the future to revisit my sweet spot; entrepreneurs should revisit market gaps


You invest your heart and soul into building a business, but there comes a time when it makes sense to move on.

Priorities shift, new opportunities arise, or a financial incentive is too good to refuse.

When my opportunity to exit for $39 million presented itself, I thought it was time to seek new opportunities and travel the world.

The entrepreneurial urge to revisit the sweet spot

The business was at a size where I had almost become obsolete, as I had a very strong in-house management team taking the company from strength to strength.

It’s not unusual to be constantly scanning the horizon for stuff that’s new and innovative. In the hunt for ‘the next big thing’, you can easily miss something right in front of you.

I started WME from my bedroom with just $350 in the bank, so you could say digital marketing was my first real passion.

It certainly gave me my big break, and since selling up in 2017, I’ve focused on growing the number of digital agencies I own around the world, continuing to leverage what I learned at WME but with a focus on always improving and staying at the top of my game.

Simultaneously, I try to spot the shifts in thinking, new technologies and changing preferences that flag a problem that needs a digital solution.

One example is Lisnic, the new digital platform I’ve launched with fellow entrepreneur Lisa Teh that adds access, structure and accountability to mentoring relationships.

Covid shifted the way we all connect and in the case of video conferencing, not only has it become more accepted, but it is now often seen as a ‘preferred’ or more convenient option for meeting rather than in person.

I don’t think you can ever replace the value of a face-to-face connection, however the option to meet virtually certainly opens up more opportunities.

In the case of Lisnic, it offers the option to network and meet with mentors from around the world in the comfort of your own home or office.

Benefits of revisiting a sweet spot.

But it’s important to remember as an entrepreneur that while you’re chasing new ideas or sectors, sometimes the areas you know best can still present a real opportunity.

Maybe you’ve become an expert in app development and can create a new user interface. Sometimes it’s as simple as spotting more efficient ways of solving the same problems.

With the pandemic shutting the international borders I’ve had a lot more time to focus on the local market and assess what’s happening here.

By doing so I realised that there was an opportunity for a new player in the industry to deliver better technology, results and service than what’s currently on offer.

Seeing that, and combining it with the fact that I’ve fielded quite a few emails and LinkedIn messages asking me who I would use locally for digital marketing, I made the decision to launch a new Australian agency called First Page.

This business leverages everything I have learnt, in particular in Asia where in the past few years the industry has started to really evolve and become a source of knowledge.

The business is only a few months old, but it is starting to take off, and for me it has really validated the worth of revisiting an old idea to see if you can mix hard-won experience with bringing something new to the table.

A valuable part of being able to tap into an industry you know well is having access to the connections and networks that you already have.

For me that means not only leaning on the reputation that I have built but also the people who I may have worked with or that have worked for me and using the opportunity to reach out to them to see how we might work together now.

Entrepreneurialism comes with no set of rules, and often you have to trust your gut.

So, by all means, buy into that shiny new idea with the cool name and big plans – as long as it comes with a compelling real-world business case and solid, achievable numbers.

Don’t forget that it’s strategically intelligent and just as rewarding to circle back on something you love and do well, and apply some next-level thinking to do even better.

Nick Bell, five time AFR young rich-lister and owner of 12 global digital agencies including First Page and Appscore

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