Craig Schulze interviews Mark Wright, an award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Climb Online, a disruptive digital marketing agency that offers innovative solutions to over 400 clients including Emirates Airlines and Tik Tok.
Mark’s big break happened when he was chosen from among 75,000 people to be on BBC’s The Apprentice and won, gaining international recognition and the mentorship of Lord Alan Sugar.
Eager to share his gift for marketing, he travels the world as an inspirational speaker, giving talks on entrepreneurial mindset and the power of marketing. He also hosted Climb Con, the first UK business conference dedicated to helping entrepreneurs accelerate business growth and develop meaningful, lasting networks.
In January 2017, Mark was named as on of Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe for his great impact on and contribution to the business sector.
He was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2018 UK Business Awards in recognition for his entrepreneurial spirit.
Mark currently owns and operates five businesses with a turnover of about $25 million a year, mostly in the marketing space and employs over 60 people.
He is truly a shining example of determination and courage paving the way for entrepreneurial success.
Mark Wright’s Entrepreneurship Journey
Mark’s story rings true with the beginnings of many a successful entrepreneur.
“I really struggled at school. I'm dyslexic, I can't read and write basically at all to this day.” – Mark Wright
He grew up with parents that owned small businesses and since an early age, he dreamed of being an entrepreneur.
“I googled what was the quickest business I could open because I had no grades. The quickest was a personal training course which would take six weeks and I could open my own personal training studio.” – Mark Wright
After gaining his certificate online, Mark became a personal trainer in Brisbane. He realized that while the hours were crazy and the work strenuous, he wasn’t making near as much money as he desired.
The incredible thing that any entrepreneur will share is that when there is a desire and consistent action towards it, opportunities appear.
“I started training a really successful and rich Australian guy. He was the CEO of Energex, the energy company in Queensland, and I asked how do I get rich. He said, ‘Son don't be a personal trainer. All the money's in sales and marketing and you need to angle myself into sales and marketing.’” – Mark Wright
Mark followed his client’s advice and quit personal training to pursue a career in marketing. He joined the training centre that gave him his certificate and got to work innovating.
“A guy there had invented a system where you could upload different Fitness Academy courses and everywhere in Australia people could do it online. It was quite revolutionary, but the problem was he was getting $2,000 a month in sales so I told him we needed to get this out there.” – Mark Wright
At the time, Mark barely knew anything about marketing. What he did know was that this could be huge, and he was going to blast it there.
“I was like right let me do some research. So, I taught myself how to make a website and SEO. We got to number one on Google and went from $2,000 a month in sales to $240 thousand!” – Mark Wright
With this roaring success, Mark had stumbled upon what would be a successful and fulfilling career in marketing.
Young and starry eyed, Mark did what most Australians his age do – he went backpacking around Europe for two years.
He ended up in the UK with 170 pounds in his pocket and a hustler’s spirit.
Mark quickly got to work selling Google AdWords door-to-door.
“I started selling Google AdWords for the biggest company in the UK but they really treated their customers badly. I always think ‘don't get bitter, get better’. So, I put together a business plan for what I thought would be an amazing digital marketing business of my own.” – Mark Wright
It was then that Mark encountered the moment every entrepreneur dreads but must learn to manoeuvre – rejection.
“I took it to four banks in the UK for a 25,000-pound loan, but because I'm not from the UK they wouldn't open an account for me.” – Mark Wright
During moments of rejection, entrepreneurs can choose to buckle and give up, or they could do everything in their power to see their vision through.
Mark chose to do the impossible – He auditioned to be on BBC’s The Apprentice.
“So, I went on the UK's biggest TV show at the time – The Apprentice on BBC. I was one of 75,000 people that tried out for Series 10. I got on I won the show and the rest is history.” – Mark Wright
“Who You Know” Matters
Craig has always stressed the importance of entrepreneurs building powerful connections and expanding their network in order to magnify their success.
Spending time with people who are living the life you are striving towards can open doors for you and make the difference between you staying right where you are or finally making the leap into the bigger leagues.
Mark believes that a supportive network of successful people can help you shoulder the weight of entrepreneurship, which is harder than is advertised.
“Business is incredibly tough and incredibly stressful, a lot more than anyone gives it credit for. That's why 95% of businesses fail. It's not because you're not good at what you can do within your sector or your product. It's because of the amount of shots that you take. A lot of people just end up giving up because they've not got a good mentor or coach by their side.” – Mark Wright
Your network has the power to raise your net worth and Mark goes as far as saying that mentorship is more valuable than cold, hard cash.
“If you gave me two options at the time when I was 23: ‘would you take the $400,000 from winning the show or would you take the mentorship from Lord Sugar’, I would have taken the money. Now as a 30-year-old businessman who has seen a lot more over the last few years, I would laugh at the $400,000 and I would just snap your hand off for the mentorship.” – Mark Wright
The benefit of mentors lies in their experience and ability to give you constructive feedback that empowers and inspires you.
“When you have a bad day or when you have a situation, maybe it's a legal supply issue, a staff issue, a structuring issue within your organization, you pick up the phone and they have the answers. That is a lot more value. You can make hundreds of millions off of the back of the information.” – Mark Wright
Your network could strongly impact your net worth and open doors where there were only walls.
“Success in business doesn't come from money, it comes from connections. We’ve all heard the saying ‘it's not what you know, it's who you know’. You are one connection away or one network away from a totally different life.” – Mark Wright
Mentors and coaches have the experience and the tools that can help elevate your business and drive you towards bigger success.
“Most people are running a small business for 15 years. That's a huge problem. Why is it still small over 15 years? It’s because you've never received the right training or coaching or mentoring to get you out of that small business and into the right mindset. A lot of the time it’s changing your mindset into becoming a big business.” – Mark Wright
It’s important to surround yourself with people who offer reliable advice and have achieved the kind of success you are working towards.
“I surround myself with people who don't give bad advice. They say things I don't like hearing but they always improve me.” – Mark Wright
Failing to be intentional and conscious about the people you surround yourself with could prove to be an insurmountable obstacle to your success.
“A lot of the people are surrounding themselves with the wrong people and getting advice from family members and so on. You're never going to get ahead or you're only ever going to get the results that they've gotten. You need to start surrounding yourself with people that have things and achieve things that you've never done because they're going to put new information into your brain that you've never heard before, and that's so valuable.” – Mark Wright
Becoming a Key Person of Influence
Craig agrees that leverage and networks are key guiding principles that any entrepreneur looking to really make it big should live by.
“It's not what you know. It's not who you know. That's what we always say, but it's who knows you that is the real act.” – Craig Schulze
Craig and Mark reference Daniel Priestley’s book Key Persons of Influence as they reflect on the importance of not only being well connected, but also being a person who’s valuable to be connected to.
In an interview with Craig, Daniel Priestley described the benefit of being a Key Person of Influence:
“The experience of being a Key Person of Influence is you're just swamped with opportunities all the time - really good ones - and the experience of not being a Key Person of Influence is you're always looking at terrible opportunities and on the hunt for an opportunity. So, I kind of had this realization that unless you're a Key Person of Influence, your full-time job is to get on the epicentre and become one.” – Daniel Priestley
Mark Wright believes that building the skills required and the reputation of being a master in your field allows you to distinguish yourself and be highly sought out as a connection.
He urges entrepreneurs to do their best to become recognized within their fields so they may be able to attract endless possibilities.
“Now anyone who wants to get their product out there, get their name out there, speaking on stage is essential for every entrepreneur. If you aren't speaking on stage, you need to learn how to speak on stage. If you haven't got a book, you need a book. You need to be known for being a key person of influence.” – Mark Wright
In fact, in the world of business, marketing and sales, it’s important that you are creating a name for yourself as a thought leader your industry.
“It all comes back to making sure you're well known for what you do and that you offer value, you're giving back to your industry and you're connected to the right people.” – Mark Wright
Craig cannot agree more as just recently connected with a fellow entrepreneur looking for funding over The One Shot Movement Podcast and felt compelled to put her in touch with potential people as soon as the interview was over.
He also draws on his experience connecting with Mark Wright through a mutual friend as further proof that who you know changes everything.
“Within I think 24-48 hours of me reaching out to you just through a mutual connection you know you said I'd love to be on your show.” – Craig Schulze
Courage & Resilience – Vital Entrepreneurship Values
An entrepreneur’s spirit must always have courage.
Craig coaches entrepreneurs in having the courage to pick up the phone and call the big players they envision working with. It’s the courage to make the call, and the courage to continue with commitment if they are rejected.
If you never ask, you will never receive.
Mark Wright agrees that without courage, there can’t be progress in life and in business.
“You need to have the courage to ask the question of people, to ask the big hitters to be on your podcast, to ask for a meeting with that company you never thought you’d get. A lot of people have never attempted to get that dream guest on their podcast or have that dream customer and that's why they don't have them.” – Mark Wright
Oftentimes the limitations are those of our own creation.
“We all set so many limitations on our own mind and then sit there and complain.” – Mark Wright
Mark recommends writing down our dreams and the actions required to get there in order to overcome our self-imposed limitations.
“It's first understanding it by writing it down, then taking the actions to get the results. It's a lot easier than people make up.” – Mark Wright
Resilience is integral to entrepreneurial success.
One aspect of resilience is the ability to bounce back from rejection and take actions that are difficult to stomach.
“The key to success in business is about having tough skin and being able to handle rejection, failure, tough conversations, and saying news to people that they're not necessarily going to like. It really will get you a long way.” – Mark Wright
Another aspect of resilience is the ability to follow through despite the inevitable challenges that will arise.
“Resilience is a being tough and the ability to stay in something until you see it become successful. I just encourage everyone to you know really start believing in themselves and taking big actions.” – Mark Wright
Mark’s Top Five Digital Marketing Tips
Mark has made a name for himself in the marketing industry and offers digital marketing tips for entrepreneurs hoping to maximize the engagement of their social media strategies.
“Any business that understands the power of marketing in general, but more specifically digital marketing, can have just as many sales as it wants. That's why I love digital marketing – It’s so powerful.” – Mark Wright
His first piece of advice is focusing on video content.
“Right now, the biggest thing I'm seeing in the industry is the power of video and content. It's all about social proof.” – Mark Wright
The days of simple use of words, layouts and pictures on websites are gone and current trends show an increase in video content popularity.
In fact, Mark points out that video content engagement by the end of 2020 would amount to 80% of all traffic on the web.
“If you're a small or medium sized business your first law needs to be ‘how can we turn all the information on our website and our social media into video?’ – Mark Wright
Mark’s second advice is maximizing YouTube as a social media platform and invest cost-effectively to generate greater returns.
“Industry statistics are pointing out that platforms will come and go. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, they will come and go with wind but what will stay is SEARCH, and that's Google search and YouTube as the second largest search engine in the world.” – Mark Wright
Unlike Facebook and TikTok, YouTube is a social media platform that functions as a search platform. As such, it’s not as volatile as other social media platforms and offers marketers an excellent opportunity to engage with customers through video content.
“Social media will change but YouTube won't change. So, we're working a lot with getting great video content and making sure it's got subtitles on it. That can be done cost-effectively but have a huge impact on generating leads for businesses.” – Mark Wright
Another important investment is in the company website which is the portal to your brand and sometimes the first point of contact with customers.
“A lot of businesses just don't spend enough time investing in their website which is really the door or flyer to the world. We need to make sure that the website is great, it converts, it really talks about what you do and it’s is understandable for your customers.” – Mark Wright
Thirdly, Mark recommends keeping it simple.
“By sometimes making things simple you can make an idea the better because you understand the premise.” – Mark Wright
He warns entrepreneurs against getting lost in the sea of jargon and fancy terminology that they lost sight of what value they are offering customers.
“I find that a lot of people I mentor and coach now are so confused about what they're offering is. They're trying to tell us all the bells and whistles and all the jargon to show us that they're an industry expert. What a real expert does is make their offering simple to understand and simple to follow, and makes customers pay after they've received the results. Everybody wins.” – Mark Wright
Fourthly, you need to leverage the right social media platforms relevant to your industry.
Craig has been a proponent of strategic digital marketing, urging the entrepreneurs he coaches to identify the platforms that complement their brands and get to work raising awareness of their cause.
“Instead of having 20 accounts where you post on one every month or few months or you forget about one and haven’t posted on since August 2017, have three to four which are relevant specifically to your industry.” – Mark Wright
Finally, Mark urges entrepreneurs to prioritize consistent engagement with customers.
“A lot of the time the failings on social media is lack of consistency. People are too worried about the quality and not the quantity. It's the other way around with social media. Quantity beats quality every single time. You need to be talking to your people regularly and if you do that and you do it for long enough and you will be successful on that chosen platform.” – Mark Wright
Keeping up with Social Media Trends
During the interview, Craig and Mark discuss some of the current social media trends that entrepreneurs must watch out for when devising their social media strategy.
It’s important to recognize that social media platforms are also businesses and one of their primary objectives would be maximizing profit for investors.
“You need to understand what's going on with social media at the end of the day that they are businesses and a business's function is to return to its shareholders profits and positivity. Facebook is always going to do things that make sure they report back in a positive manner and therefore you're going to have to pay in some element to play.” – Mark Wright
With that in mind, one of the first tips Mark shares is ensuring that you are investing in social media advertising.
“If you're not prepared to spend money on advertising online, your profile is not going to make it now.” – Mark Wright
In recent years, the algorithms on platforms like Facebook and Instagram have been set against organic growth, making it virtually impossible for a company to simply grow their followers without paid advertising.
“Unless you're paying to boost things out to a wider audience or advertise, they're not going to share it with a new audience.” – Mark Wright
This makes paid advertising crucial to businesses planning to grow their online engagement.
“I don't know why people have this thing about not paying to get their content out there. If your content is good, you have to pay to get it out there because it deserves it.” – Mark Wright
The second tip is to stay current with system updates and features so you can maximize engagement with customers.
YouTube now has YouTube Live and Facebook launched Messenger Day to compete with Snapchat. These features give businesses new tools to connect with customers and allows for creativity in creating captivating content.
“It's a sign whatever they bring out you need to familiarize yourself with it quickly. You have to move with the updates in the system.” – Mark Wright
Mark also recommends making the shift towards an Omni-channel strategy – being present on more than one platform to maximize reach.
“You need to be across so many various platforms. You need omnipresence across everything because someone might look for your business on just Facebook and not have checked Google. So, it's making sure that you have a presence across all of the key platforms for your sector.” – Mark Wright
It’s also wise to adopt new and popular platforms such as TikTok which has exploded in popularity during the coronavirus lockdown.
“Now when we've all been in lockdown, TikTok has gone ballistic. I mean every video I see, both on Instagram and everywhere else, is a TikTok video.” – Mark Wright
In addition, it’s important to acknowledge the functions of specific social media platforms. For example, LinkedIn is a powerful tool to connect with the right people and create new opportunities.
“If God gave B2B businesses and service-based businesses any platform, it is LinkedIn. Becoming a master of how you communicate through LinkedIn – connecting with the right people, sending out the right emails to people – it’s so powerful.” – Mark Wright
Ultimately, Mark believes that social media has the potential to empower businesses if they are leveraged effectively.
“I think there's never been an easier time particularly as a new business. You can really fight it out with the big guys because the tools that the social media giants have given us. You can really look the same size and really professional with a very small budget.” – Mark Wright
A Framework for Maximizing Wealth
Craig has made a sizeable part of his fortune through property investments and Mark agrees that it is a successful investment model that has worked for the majority of highly successful people.
“95% of all self-made millionaires have done so through property investment. That model works and it's about finding that first business. You do business for fun and property to make money.” – Mark Wright
For people newly creating their wealth, Mark suggests investing in start-ups as a way to maximize possible returns faster.
“The biggest, fastest way of building cash flow is through great businesses. If you're lucky in a property, in my experience, at best maybe at 25% return. In a great business, I've had you know a 150% - 300% returns in one year out of great start-up business.” – Mark Wright
When it comes to faster ways of accumulating wealth, Mark suggests expanding into seven streams of income. This allows you to spread your risk across a diversified investment portfolio and generate cashflow from multiple fronts.
“So, the rule is this once you have found one business as a start-up that you go into, you generate cash flow. Once you have that cash flow, you find property or other businesses that are in that start-up phase and that can use your skill and your capital to go to the next level.” – Mark Wright
He acknowledges that no one person can be an expert in seven industries and recommends partnering with experts.
“Most common you need to partner you need to find people in up-and-coming areas that know their stuff that need capital if you have capital.”
Ensuring you partner with people who have the right mindset can make or break the investment.
“What you need in place is a manager that has experience in the sector, a hell of a work ethic and who will take advice, mentoring and coaching from you.” – Mark Wright
Mark also recommends investing in marketing to really get the business out there and give it a fair fighting shot at succeeding.
“Most people are so conservative on the marketing that they're just not doing enough therefore they're not getting anything back in. So, if you've got a good business and a good business engine and you put that money into marketing as opposed to a slow growth wealth option you can really magnify your results.” – Mark Wright
Finally, Mark shares insights that run contradictory to what most of us are taught when we are young.
“We're told as kids, and I hope we stop teaching kids this, that things like credit cards are bad, lending money is bad, owing people money is bad.” – Mark Wright
Instead, Mark recommends learning to manage and leverage debt in a way that allows you to create financial freedom.
“I've just started understanding how important leveraging massive amounts of debt is. If you ever want to be financially free you need to learn how to leverage debt in a healthy repayable manner. Structure and deals through debt is the key to massive success.” – Mark Wright
In the Wake of COVID-19
Craig asked Mark to share some of his insights into the impact of the current Coronavirus pandemic on the business environment.
Mark does not hesitate expressing how huge an impact he believes the virus and subsequent lockdown have already had… and will continue to have.
“Absolutely massive impact globally! It is going to change things I think forever in a way that we've never seen.” – Mark Wright
One of the positive impacts is that the lockdown has allowed businesses to finally acknowledge flexible working is convenient, possibly more productive and virtually free!
“Businesses have realized through working at home that they no longer need an office to run their company and that they are efficient through working from home. They don't need the 20,000 pound overhead of having an office.” – Mark Wright
However, the shift to flexible working arrangements is a double-edged sword whereby businesses set up in office areas risk going bankrupt or closing down.
“Here in the UK, every office building has a Prets and a Starbucks. How many Prets and Starbucks are going to go under as a result of this because if you take say 40% of the workers out of the city, who are now working from home, that's going to have a knock-on effect of people not spending money. Those businesses will die.” – Mark Wright
Mark also believes that the slowdown of business and trade during the lockdown will result in a recession down the line.
“A recession happens from negative growth over a built-up period of time. Now if we haven't traded for three months as an economy, that's going to have a huge knock-on effect.” – Mark Wright
While the entire negative impact of this situation is yet to be fully experienced, there is always opportunity lurking at the corner of every challenge.
“We're just about to face the crisis which is going to be terrible for all of us in business but we're just going to have to do it. I've been really encouraged by the ways I've seen people adapting their products, the way they work, the way they service their clients… It has been really impressive, so one hopes that we quickly come in and out of it and crack on.” – Mark Wright
Mark offers a handful of tips that can help entrepreneurs navigate these uncertain times.
He recommends businesses stay on top of the situation and take quick decisions to adapt to it.
“It's the businesses that make quick decisions, that make the tough decisions and adapt in the marketplace that will that will survive.” – Mark Wright
He also urges entrepreneurs to keep an eye out for opportunities to start or buy businesses.
“You need to welcome bad times just as much as the good because there's opportunity to buy other businesses, to invest in your business, to market and get more customers that wouldn't have been there in a traditionally good market.” – Mark Wright
Both Craig and Mark have doubled their marketing budget during the lockdown and have seen almost triple the leads. Based on the positive returns of this strategy, Mark recommends investing in marketing and intensifying your competitive advantage.
“Fortune really does favour the brave and when you see your competition drawing up the bridge it's a great indicator that you should be going up the other way.” – Mark Wright
The most important lesson Mark shares is to develop courage and resilience as an entrepreneur and to reframe your mind’s perception of risk.
“I've noticed from all the billionaires and super successful that their appetite for risk is incredible. They don't see risk like people see risk it is. There're two options, you spend money and you lose it and you learn a lesson, or you spend money and it works.” – Mark Wright
In the end, every challenge is an opportunity for growth.
“You can never lose based on how you perceive the lesson.” – Mark Wright
What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Mark’s Story
- Take the initiative and be proactive about taking action to overcome your limitations.
- Be intentional and conscious about the people you surround yourself with, they could hold the key to immeasurable success.
- Establish yourself as a Key Person of Influence in your industry by speaking on stages, publishing books, and being present on social media.
- Have the courage to reach out and the resilience to take no for an answer. Every interaction is an opportunity for you to take the lesson and evolve.
- Video content is increasingly popular on social media. Platforms like YouTube are search engines which offer great marketing potential and reach.
- Social media is a quantity over quality game. Ensure that you post consistently and that you are engaging with your customers regularly.
- Stay current with the latest social media marketing tools and use only the handful of platforms relevant to your industry.
- Expand your income into at least seven streams of revenue. Consider investing in start-ups to maximize your wealth and adding property investments to your portfolio. Learn to manage and leverage debt to increase your wealth.
- During times of uncertainty, stay on top of the situation, keep an eye out for opportunities and take quick action to adapt.