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Mark Wright Interview – CEO of Climb Online

Today we have selected Mark Wright To to take his interview. He is the CEO of Climb Online.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

We are all very well, thank you for asking.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company? How does your company innovate?

I grew up in Armidale, Australia, where my Dad is the local mechanic and my Mum is the local hairdresser. From a young age, both my parents ran their own businesses, which is something I always aspired to; having listened to them both discussing the challenges of running small businesses around the dinner table on a nightly basis.

Despite inheriting their exceptional work ethic, on leaving school I didn’t quite know what sector I wanted to develop a business in, made worse by the fact I didn’t achieve any qualifications as I struggled [unknowingly] with dyslexia. All I did know is that I wanted to be a businessman and also had an interest in health and fitness so quickly became a personal trainer. When working at the Personal Training College, the owner needed to increase sales, and I suggested that we build a website and sell the course online. From here, I taught myself digital marketing and within a matter of months, the Personal Training College went from generating 2,000 Aus Dollars per month in revenue to 240,000.

From here, I knew that I wanted to help other businesses grow through effective digital marketing and after multiple years working for various agencies, the concept for Climb Online was born.

Climb Online inspires business owners to believe that their digital marketing can be done differently, by combining a high standard of customer service with an incredible return on investment. This led by our company mantra ‘If you grow, we grow”, which couldn’t be more accurate.

In founding Climb Online, I wanted to do something that would immediately set us aside from competitors whilst positioning us as an authority in the digital marketing industry. As a result, we transformed conventional digital marketing services to appear as purchasable products: ‘Organic Climber’ ‘Paid Climber’ ‘Social Climber’ and ‘Creative Climber’, marrying Climb Online brand to the service and redefining digital marketing as a whole.

This innovative approach supported by a strong company culture has enabled us to secure contracts with hundreds of businesses across the UK and overseas.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Like the majority of businesses, the initial lockdown period proved challenging as the businesses unable to operate remotely simply shut their doors and went into hibernation, which obviously impacted their entire supply chain. From here, it was clear that all business owners went into two camps – the first essentially pushed ‘pause’ on their entire business, waiting for it all to blow over and the second continued to push through each and every day, regardless of what challenges lay ahead. I sat in the second camp, determined to utilize the COVID-19 pandemic as a positive experience, and re-evaluated everything from costs and suppliers through to our staff and service delivery.

As a result, we are forecast to have a record year in both turnover and profit and despite the sheer challenge of the last 12 months, it has provided the best lesson in business to date.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Yes of course. A fundamental part of being a business owner is making difficult decisions, which serve and benefit the business. For example, millions of business owners would’ve faced the very difficult decision of making staff redundant as a result of COVID-19. No business owner wants to put people through that, but if the business is losing money, then you have no choice.

I stand by some key lessons that I have learned from various mentors and from my own personal experiences, which are:

Show up: So many people start a business but give up far too easily. Business is a hard and often lonely road, with consistent challenges and issues that arise – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, those who literally show up daily, work hard, and remain in the game long enough, are those who will succeed. There is no real secret to business success, it’s a fact of consistent, hard work.

Sales = Growth: I’ve met thousands of business owners over the years and it still amazes me that the vast majority don’t have any form of sales operation to keep the pipeline full and to proactively sell the product or service. Often the business owner is hesitant to hire a salesperson due to a bad experience or because they believe no one will be able to sell the business as well as they can and whilst the latter is likely to be true, you still need additional people on the ground generating as many leads as possible. Without a sales team, any form of sales strategy becomes inconsistent and effective, limiting the opportunity for growth.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable: It’s easy to run a business on the days when everything is going right when you’re winning new sales and exceeding growth targets. But the real measure of success in business is how you work through the challenging periods, the times of economic hardship, or when you have staff or customer complaints. In doing so – and in working through it successfully – you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable as only then will grow and develop as an individual and as a business owner.

Birds of a feather flock together: Simply put, if you hang around with losers, you will be a loser. Those who are most successful in business, spend their time with people who are more successful than they are, so they are motivated by their peers, whilst also having the opportunity to learn from both their advice and their mistakes. If you spend your time with people who are constantly moaning about the impact and challenges of COVID-19, it won’t be long until you find yourself joining in. Equally, if you spend your time with business owners who are digging their heels in and continuing to thrive despite the economic climate, you will start to follow suit. Remember, you earn the average income of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so spend that time wisely.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

I wouldn’t say I have specific tools or software that I am using to navigate through COVID-19 but have established a survival 101 ‘checklist’ which proved helpful at the beginning and has since proved valuable to other business owners. This includes:

  • 90 Day Goals: Outline clear goals & objectives for what needs to be achieved over the next quarter with measurable deliverables
  • Cashflow & Management Accounts: Cash is king and without it your business won’t survive. Having monthly management accounts provides a true picture of your P&L and where you need to make changes.
  • Squeeze Suppliers: Where can you save costs?
  • Refine Operations: Where can you improve service delivery to retain business?
  • Maximize Free Marketing Tools: Social Media
  • Revise Sales Strategy: Remain-focused, but relevant. I.e., No use in trying to sell to industry sectors that currently cannot operate.
  • Be Agile: The only constant is change – you need to be agile and nimble to continue to thrive.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

To be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time focusing on or obsessing over our industry competitors. It serves little purpose and completely distracts from our own objectives for growth.

Climb Online has always focused on disrupting the digital marketing industry and focusing on profit and results for our clients. We as a team are always striving to improve on yesterday and build long-term working relationships with businesses and brands on both a national and international scale. Our passion, drive, and ambition to be the best will keep us in the game both now and in 5 or 10 years’ time.

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