Rebuilding Your Business and Passion in a Few Days

Episode #11
Nov 13, 2018

Want to learn how to start your business in a few days? Join Jon to find out as he talks with Mark Mitton, Managing Director at 9thWonder and former founder of Carbon8 Marketing Agency. Listen in to find out how you can use the simple tools of confidence and positivity to grow your business fast.


“You have to look at your big events in life and not judge whether they’re good or bad.”

-Mark Mitton


2:18 - Introducing Mark Mitten and how he discovered the importance of establishing ownership with a business partner

7:09 - How the difficulties of business partnership led Mark to start his own marketing agency

11:14 - Starting a new agency and why conveying confidence can help you dominate your market and build your team

15:09 - Here is what is required to build a new business in a matter of days

19:16 - 2 things you need to do when restarting your business to create intense revenue and manage your existing clients

21:44 - How you can take the negative events in your life or business and make them positive cultivations of change

24:29 - How to inspire motivation in yourself and your team through pursuing and celebrating success

28:10 - Why danger and risk can keep you from doing what you need to do to create your ideal and successful business


Connect with Mark:


Jon Voigt:                        Welcome to Agile Living, the Entrepreneur's Journey, the show dedicated to discovering how entrepreneurs and digital leaders are doing more with less. I'm Jon Voigt, your host and CEO of Agility, and we're on a journey across the country, you can learn from top digital entrepreneurs on how to live a more agile, adaptable and fulfilling life. Thank you for joining me today and let's dive in.

Jon Voigt:                        All right, there. To celebrate the Agile Living podcast launch, I'm doing a massive giveaway I'm giving three lucky winners a chance to win some of my favorite things I used frequently. The first step in being agile is your mindset, and these prizes all help you with that process. First, a box of Bulletproof Instamix. These are high octane oils to fuel your day, I had my coffee or my tea almost daily. Second, a Fitbit Charge 3, I don't even have one of these yet we released and they look pretty cool, so it's coming out soon and, and that'll be the second price. Third, a microbiome test by Viome. This is a leading test in the US that tests your gut biology and tells you exactly the foods you should be eating. It's pretty cool stuff, I did it about a year ago and saw the results and it was really amazing the things I should and shouldn't be eating.

Jon Voigt:                        Please note, this is contest we'll only be open to those in Canada, the US. I'm really sorry for anyone internationally and to win, you have to do the following. Subscribe on iTunes to the show, go to the and enter your email so we have a way to contact you and share the show with a friend who wants to start living a more agile lifestyle on Twitter or Facebook with the tag 'Be More Agile'. That's it. Pretty simple. I can't wait for you to hear some of the episodes and hopefully you can start living a more agile life.

Jon Voigt:                        I'm excited to jump you into the story today. I'm joined by Mark Mitton, partner and managing director of 9thWonder. I met Mark earlier this year when camping up in Denver for a month this summer and we had some great discussions. Some of them were at this little bar around the corner from his work that was just the cutest little place it was awesome. And I was blown away by the story of how he pretty much rebuilt his business in a weekend. I knew right then that we had chat more about this and I'm super excited to jump into the story.

Jon Voigt:                        Mark, perhaps you can tell us a little bit about 9thWonder and then we can travel back to what sounds like a defining moment in your journey.

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah, sure. No, I'm excited to talk about this story, it definitely was a pivotal moment and led to some interesting things. So yeah, I am managing director of 9thWonder and actually 9thWonder is new, so probably about to go back in time and talk about what was started and how we actually ended up here. So about 11 or 12 years ago, I started to become dissatisfied with just the normal corporate ladder and I was looking for an out, looking to start something on my own.

Mark Mitton:                  I really have to look at myself and I felt like I wasn't quite performing or my career wasn't going up to snuff-

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  ... and I had to take a hard look at that and say, you know if you think you should be doing better and you're frustrated where their career is at, then why don't you either put up or shut up.

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  And so for me putting up meant, you know, hanging out my own shingle and, and seeing what I could do on my own. I didn't really have a master plan. Like, "Hey, I'm, you know, I've been in marketing my whole career. I'm going to go out and start a marketing agency." I really just said, "You know, what can I start doing independently on my own?"

Jon Voigt:                        Right. Right.

Mark Mitton:                  And so it was really a decision to not do what I was doing before versus, "Hey, I'm going to go specifically go do this." And, you know, frankly, it was sort of really kind of challenging time I had a lot going on personally, it was the absolute worst time to introduce uncertainty in my career but ...

Jon Voigt:                        It's always the way.

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah, I almost feel like, you know, in- in those positions that are, there are those times of transition, you know, it was just, I just decided to just kind of go for it and it was really scary. You know, you just don't, you know, you're going from the cradle of the corporate life to start on your own. And that was, that was pretty new concept for me.

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah.

Mark Mitton:                  So as I started exploring that, I actually started to get traction. I started getting people who know me, who heard I was, you know, independent, contracting, interested, and I had an old friend of mine who had also done the same thing and he had started to form his own marketing consultancy. And so we worked together many years before and we decided to form an agency together.

Jon Voigt:                        Mm-hmm

Mark Mitton:                  He actually already had a name for the agency, we adopted his name and it made a huge difference to be teamed up with somebody else versus just doing on my own.

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah.

Mark Mitton:                  And so together, things really started to take off. Now, I had never started a business before and in hindsight I was a bit naive about how we should set things up.

Jon Voigt:                        Yup.

Mark Mitton:                  We trusted each other and so we just kind of went for it, we verbally agreed to how we would operate the agency and what the ownership would look like. All the while since he'd actually, you know, formed the company legally he had full control of the agency.

Jon Voigt:                        Right. And, and how far ... When was this? Was this the route just, in eight to those rough times or just before that?

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah. So this was, and what- the economy wasn't doing that great.

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  This was about, would have been about 11 years ago. 11, 12 years ago.

Jon Voigt:                        Okay. Right. Right.

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah and so yeah. And so we- we did great together we you know, we formed the agency. You'd mostly using both virtual workforce, you know, got really smart people that were willing to jump in as contractors, started winning lots of different customers. Everything was just growing going great, you know, growing and, and building out. We had you know, got our first office-

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah.

Mark Mitton:                  ... and things are going along great and eventually we came to this point where we met somebody who was contracting for us, it was super talented and my partner said, "Well, we got to think about bringing, bringing this person on as a partner."

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  And I said, "Well, hey, we're two years into this. We still haven't formally signed all of our you know, founding documents-

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah.

Mark Mitton:                  And so-

Jon Voigt:                        You guys still have stuff to organize.

Mark Mitton:                  Yes.

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah, and it was kind like we were just so busy, we didn't have time for lawyers and everything was going great, we're making money. And so my partner said something that was kind of surprised and he said, "Well, you know, what do you want?" And I said, "Well, wait a minute. We have agreed to everything," and without going into all the details it really came out that we just kind of had a, a disagreement and what that ownership look like. And that was a shock to me just because, you know, I, my interpretation was everything was absolutely agreed to and everything was very clear. We just had to memorialize it.

Jon Voigt:                        Right. Right.

Mark Mitton:                  And yeah, so this led to a conversation of, well, can we figure this out? And we met and we finally realized that there was just no way to kind of come to an agreement on what this would look like.

Jon Voigt:                        Wow.

Mark Mitton:                  And yeah-

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah.

Mark Mitton:                  ... which was pretty shocking ...

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah, catch you off guard right, because two years you're thinking it's set up a certain way, this is how I'm viewing it. And to all of a sudden realized as a change of opinion last minute.

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah. And he even got a bit more complicated where we sat down and remember I went over to his house on a Thursday and we said, "Okay, let's, let's do this like real mature professionals that's workout how we would split up the company." And we agreed about which employees go where and which accounts go where and the idea was that I would go start my agency with those accounts and, and resources employees and he would continue on under, under our brand name. And we worked it out all on paper and he said, "Hey, I'll have a, a lawyer draw this all up and let's get together on Sunday and we can you know, sign things and, and move on. And we, we shook hands and everything was great."

Jon Voigt:                        Right, awesome.

Mark Mitton:                  So thought we had a plan. On Sunday, I got into our office and I got there a bit before my partner did. And he walked into my office and he said, he said, "you have two options, signed it or don't," and it's like, "What are you talking about?" I, and I looked down and at what he had written up and it didn't reflect at all what we had talked about. He had essentially changed his mind in terms of you know, how he wanted to negotiate the end and it essentially said that "For a small sum of money, I would stop working in the agency world for a number of years. And that would be it."

Jon Voigt:                        Wow. I guess maybe the lawyer got involved a little bit and realized, you know, legally he had probably had the papers in place. So he had a bit of an upper hand there.

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah. And I, you know, in hindsight, I think that part of it too was maybe you know, I'll give him some you know, benefit of the doubt. I think he might have realized that maybe long term we weren't meant to be partners that there would be some conflicts in terms of how we would manage things.

Jon Voigt:                        Yep, yep.

Mark Mitton:                  But at the time it was, you know, it was pretty devastating and shocking for me. I walked out of that room not signing anything and I guess that was kind of the good news because we hadn't signed anything, it did give me the opportunity to maybe think about what was possible.

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  But I walked out of that room and he sent out an email to everybody saying that I decided to leave the agency world and to the all the employees, contractors and to the clients which really wasn't the case.

Jon Voigt:                        Wow. Wow.

Mark Mitton:                  So, I had a decision to make. I did decision make, you know, do I, do I fight, do I lawyer up you know, I called a lawyer and review the situation and there was some indication that because of all the verbal agreements that also been witnessed by other people that maybe there was a strong case to be made.

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  But at the same time-

Jon Voigt:                        But that's a whole journey in itself, right?

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah. And you know, in- in- in any thought there was really good chance that I could win but when I looked at it and he actually gave me this advice, I love, I've loved my lawyer for this because he said, "Look, you know, you can probably win this, but you'll spend, you know, a lot of time doing this, you'll spend a lot of money with me." He said, "You know, my advice would be why don't you just think about, you know, you didn't sign anything. So why don't you just think about forming your own agency."

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  And you know, to ... that was a, that was the- the best advice, I just have so much appreciate that I had a lawyer that kind of had that bigger view and big picture of, you know, there, there is what was fair or what maybe, you know, I might've been angry or what that might've motivated.

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah.

Mark Mitton:                  But on the other hand there was this opportunity to maybe, you know, see what I can make of it on my own, which was, was incredibly daunting just given the whole scenario.

Jon Voigt:                        Mm-hmm.

Mark Mitton:                  And so I'm sitting, you know, I'm, I'm thinking about this having, you know, all of these people just told that I'm leaving the agency world and I'm thinking, "Well, what do I do?" And so essentially what I had to do within the space of days and it's actually not even just minutes is I made a decision to form my own agency.

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  And immediately just had to think of, you know, a thousand things that needed to be done in order to now go out to employees, contractors clients and say, "Hey, I know you got this email that said this, but actually this is what's happening, and then forming an agency and you can actually trust me for the business even though, you know, at this moment all you've got is me."

Jon Voigt:                        Right, right. The interesting thing there is, you know, they talk about bad PR, any PR is good PR, you know, and whether it's PR or just, you know, them hearing that you're leaving made of ... it might've actually helped you because people are like, "Oh, what's going on? I have to listen to what's going on." And then when you send another email, they're more in tuned to listen and be like, "Oh, oh, who's the stain? Awesome ..."

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah.

Jon Voigt:                        "... Well let's, let's connect, let's, let's start working." So in a reverse psychology type of way that made it kick started some stuff.

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah. And I, I almost feel like I had to give this sense of inevitability and stability. And so, you know, we're working a lot of large clients. I mean, Fortune, you know, 500 clients.

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  And I had to convince these people that there was going to be something real, that they should spend the time to redo MSAs contracts with me as a new agency and, you know, really just had to scramble. The amazing thing that happened too was I, I think, and this is something that's important, is that I had friends and family who jumped into help.

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  I had a, a, a friend who said, he said, "Look, what- what's happened here is insane." And I had kids, I had four kids to take care of," and he said, "I'm going to come over and I'm going to be at the house nonstop for the next five days."

Jon Voigt:                        Wow.

Mark Mitton:                  So that, you, you know, over the weekend in the evenings so that you can work on reforming this agency. Because I knew it had to be fast. I mean, time was of the essence if there was any feeling and, or opening where people felt like, "You know, hey, this is, you know, this is falling apart-"

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah.

Mark Mitton:                  "... you know, Mark's not going to be able to build this." You know, I knew that this all had to happen within, I mean, literally days and so and it wasn't just, you know, telling clients that there was something that they could trust that that, you know, company that they could trust that they could work with. I also had to bring over talent.

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah, right, right.

Mark Mitton:                  And so these employees, you know, woke up getting this message. It was really strange to them saying I had left and you know, they're wondering what's going on, but also, and you know, obviously, you know, you have loyalties to certain people. Some people had loyalty to me, but the big question was, "Well, what's, what are you doing? What- what's going to happen? Is this real? Are you really forming something? Can you actually build something?"

Jon Voigt:                        Mm-hmm.

Mark Mitton:                  And so one of the things I did is we had kind of a number three person in the agency who was really key to all of our creative work we were doing and got him to come on board, you know, immediately ask them to go to lunch and let's talk and talk about plans and-

Jon Voigt:                        Go and get logo in your brand.

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah, what's the logo on a brand to be a-

Jon Voigt:                        Yep, yep.

Mark Mitton:                  You know, I was doing all of this simultaneously. And you know, I've identified him as a key person. There was another person that today is and he's been interviewed on your podcast who had just literally joined the day, this broke up-

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah, for-

Mark Mitton:                  For Jeff Robertson.

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah, yeah.

Mark Mitton:                  Yeah. So, you know, I was started to talk to him about coming on board, we had another key employee, and so, yeah, just on all fronts, I was having to, you know really convey this confidence and this inevitability that something, you know, something special, we're going to form something special that, you know, you could trust it.

Mark Mitton:                  And it was kind of like trying to get all the dominoes to, to fall at once, right simultaneously set them up and haven't followed at once so that it would all come together. And it was in like you alluded to, there was also like, "Well, what is this?" And one of my priorities was very quick to give it a name.

Jon Voigt:                        Right.

Mark Mitton:                  So that people could say, "Oh, there's, this new agency isn't just Mark, there's actually new agency." And so I remember actually sitting in my bedroom with the doors closed, just brainstorming name after name after name after name came with about 100 names. And finally came up with one and I wasn't even sure if it was good but I started using it with people and seeing how they reacted and said, "Oh, I love your new name." And I said, "Okay, market testing is done-"

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah.

Mark Mitton:                  "... I have a name." And that ended up being the name where you went with, which was a carbonate.

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah. Yeah, which just got rebranded-

Mark Mitton:                  Correct.

Jon Voigt:                        You just did think because I rebrand.

Mark Mitton:                  Correct.

Jon Voigt:                        Yeah, yep.

Mark Mitton:                  Yep, exactly. Carbonate was the name for the last nine years and then we just went through the rebrand this year.

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