“Bluff only gets you so far.”
Building a company is a difficult task. Whether starting their own or growing an established business, these leaders have made a name for themselves as some of the best of the best. So, what makes business leaders tick and what are they aiming to achieve when all is said and done? We spoke to Mark Wallace, Group Director at Kingdom Services Group, about his journey in business.
When did you establish your first business and what inspired you to set it up?
I believe my first businesses started at secondary school – I recall two. I had a friend whose mum sold 45 records for jukeboxes. I would buy them off her and sell them at school. It was an easy sell to people in secondary school as everyone wanted cheap records and the latest records in the charts. It was the first time I ever made decent money.
I also recall not having much money to pay for sweets at the school tuck shop and thought they were too expensive, so I managed to buy some stuff from the cash and carry where my Dad had an account. I sold the same items – but cheaper than the school tuck shop – and sold them in the school yard at each break. It started small but got bigger each week and was the first time I employed someone (my best mate) to help me sell until the school shut me down.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how have you overcome them?
Every day there are new challenges which is what gives you a sense of purpose each day and in business, you have to lead and you have to find solutions or make final decisions. The big challenges have been vast, from growth pains to having to repeatedly build great teams at new growth junctures, to continually finding new ways to have a real competitive edge. It has also been a challenge to keep remembering why you do it and to keep your core values.
Is there anything you wish you knew before you first started out?
I honestly think had I known what I know now when I started out, then I wouldn’t have started. Now that I am older and a tad wiser, I wouldn’t have taken anywhere near the risks I did when I was younger.
When I reflect back, I really knew very little, so in summary don’t go thinking you can’t do it because you are too young or have never been in business before. If you have a great idea and are prepared to dedicate real time to it and truly listen, learn and connect with great people who can support your journey, then go for it.
Did you always want to be a business leader or did the desire develop over time?
It definitely developed over time. By default, I became a young business leader and I quickly realised that only by working really hard and demonstrating I had knowledge and substance on a topic could I truly lead. Bluff only gets you so far.
What is your top tip for other business leaders?
Be yourself. Say what you feel. Great teams communicate.
What are your plans for the future?
Kingdom evolves continually and will continue to do so. Remaining strategic is my highest priority and you can only be strategic if you build great teams and delegate to keep out the weeds.
Outside of Kingdom, I have hit an age where I just want to maximise every hour by being active or by learning something new every day – I have become obsessed with trying to do it myself first. Years ago, that wouldn’t even have been a consideration.
What would you like your legacy to be?
He listened and then he never failed to make a decision.