If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ve probably seen heaps of inspirational stories of people quitting their corporate jobs to start their online businesses.
But is it always smooth sailing?
Will Wang is the founder of Growth Labz, a 7-figure digital agency based in Sydney. He works with big corporate clients who have over $5-$10 million turnover per annum.
Sounds pretty impressive right?
Will’s background was in a high-paying corporate role. It was safe and he was financially comfortable.
But when he decided to quit his job to focus on his side-hustle, things didn’t quite go to plan. Will had a lot of challenges to overcome, and realised he may have left his corporate role too early.
WATCH THE VIDEO or read the transcript below to see how Will transitioned full-time online as a freelancer.
Want to know what it’s like to quit a highly paid, safe corporate job and go full-time as a freelancer? Here’s how Will did it…
Matt Raad: Hi again, everyone. It’s Matt Raad here, CEO and co-founder of eBusiness Institute, where we teach professionals how to quit their jobs by earning money online.
We’ve got an inspirational guest here today, Will Wang from Growth Labz. Will is like many of you; he started his professional career as a data analyst in a high-paying corporate role. But he quit that and followed his passion.
He’s really good at writing, so he created a digital agency. And it’s inspirational to see where Will is today. Even though he’s a bit of an introvert, he’s been able to build his digital agency into a seven-figure business quickly.
So, I want him to share his story today about what it’s like to quit a high-paying corporate role. And also what it’s been like to grow Growth Labz. He’s a bit of a legend in the industry here in Australia, and he’s in a very niche space.
Will Wang quit his corporate role and created digital agency Growth Labz
Matt: Will now works with corporates and businesses doing $5 – 10 million a year. And they pay lots of money to Will to do online marketing for them, particularly email and copywriting.
But it wasn’t always like that. He looks like a legend today, but he’s a very humble guy. So, thanks so much for coming onboard, Will.
Will Wang: Wow, what an intro! Thank you so much, Matt; I think you oversold me 🙂
Matt: Well, I have to build you up here because you’ve done extremely well.
I’ve gotten to know you over the years. You’re also on our Digital Investors program. And I’ve always said to you that someone with your digital skills should definitely be buying and selling websites.
But Will, I’ve asked you here today to inspire our audience. We’ve got a lot of corporate people (professionals) like yourself. And particularly after COVID, everyone wants to work from home these days. I can see in your background that you’re into surfing and work from home.
So, I want you to share your story because whilst things look great now, it wasn’t always like that when you first quit your corporate role.
Growth Labz uses systems to create digital leads for B2B companies and corporates
Matt: To start with, what does Growth Labz specialise in now? What do you do?
Will: We specialise in generating B2B sales and qualified B2B leads for our clients. That means that most of our clients are in FinTech or software or business services and want more people to speak to and sell their services and products to.
So rather than them building a massive team to do it, we’ve got the expertise. We just come in and do it for them. We’ve built this entire system around our service for email outreach (direct mail). So, it’s much more than a service now; it’s a system.
And that is part of the reason why we charge the fees we do. We’ve got this end-to-end process worked out, and we guarantee results and all that kind of cool stuff that we do.
He now charges a minimum of $10,000 per month
Matt: You’ve mentioned the magic word, so I’ll put you on the spot here. What fees do you charge to do that, so our readers know where you’re at? What’s your minimum fee each month?
Will: We start from $10,000 a month minimum.
Matt: Well done, that’s impressive. And I know some of you are sitting there going, “Well, I’m not Will Wang. I can’t do that.”
What it was like for Will to quit his safe corporate job
How Will was able to quit his corporate job as a data analyst and build a 7-figure digital agency in four years…
Matt: But Will, when did you start this business? Were you still in corporate?
Will: I think 2018 was the year I committed and left my job. But the business started about two years before I left corporate properly.
Matt: Well done. In just four years, you’ve built this into a seven-figure agency.
And your background is that you were a data analyst. You were not an expert in helping FinTechs generate leads online four or five years ago.
Will: Actually, when you said four years ago, I think I got my dates wrong. We’ve been in business for about six years full-time. So, it must have been 2016-17.
It feels like a lifetime because I was a completely different person, with a different mindset and speaking other things. So, it’s almost like two different universes that my mind operates in.
But yes, we’ve been operating full-time for about six years. And before that, I was a data analyst. It sounds fancy, but honestly, it meant I was on spreadsheets every day. I was creating spreadsheets, taking wild guesses of what the numbers meant, without really impacting any business.
His passion is writing copy and emails to generate millions of dollars for his clients
Matt: And so, fast forward today, your superpower is being in a digital agency where you’ve got systems for copywriting and email.
How did you make that leap? Because your passion was always writing. Am I right? Is that your superpower now? Is that pretty much what you’ve specialised in your agency?
Will: It’s evolved over the past five years to get to where we are now.
My superpower has been around writing. I’ve written for some amazing, world-class clients and created campaigns that have generated millions of dollars.
I think my superpower now is changing a little bit. It’s more turning into leadership and culture, especially as we reach the next level, expanding and growing to where we need to go.
It can’t just be me doing the copy full-time, all the time anymore. It’s got to evolve a little bit. So, I’m growing into a new superpower. I feel like we’ve got an amazing team culture, and that’s something that I’m focusing on and something that’s making us strong at the moment.
What were some of the early challenges of starting a digital agency?
Matt: When you started, you were in corporate and making this transition. This was started as a side hustle, wasn’t it?
Matt: And then you decided to get serious about it. What was that like? Was it an easy transition, or was it tricky?
And can you paint a picture with your family too, because you had kids at that point.
Will: It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
Will was in a very comfortable, safe job earning $150,000 a year
Will: I always knew that I wanted to do something for myself. I’ve always had that entrepreneurial drive. But I was working in high-paying corporate roles. As a 20-year-old kid, I was getting $150,000 a year.
On the outside, it’s like, “Whoa, that’s epic!” But honestly, it’s been paycheck to paycheck, and I hated my job.
So, every Friday night, I’d be out on the booze, spending all my money, buying every new tech that came out. It was kind of miserable, to be honest.
And so I landed the role in November. I can still really remember this. When I was onboarded to the team, they said, “Look, December’s coming around. At Christmas time in Australia, everything shuts down, especially in corporations. So, you’ll have to take leave over Christmas. Of course, you don’t have any leave accumulated yet, so can you do it without pay?”
I said, “Yeah, sure.” At that point, my son was a newborn. He was born in November, which is when I got the job.
So I said, “Look, I’m happy to do it. But just know that because my son’s so young, in July next year, I want to take some more time to spend with my family. I’d want extra days back, and you don’t have to pay me. I just want some extra leave later.”
They said, “Sure, no problem. That’s completely fine.”
But after missing out on quality family time, he decided to quit his corporate job and focus on his side-hustle
Will: As a new job, everything started okay. The job itself sucked because headquarters was based in Melbourne, so I had to fly from Sydney to Melbourne every Monday to Friday. So, I wasn’t seeing much of my newborn at home.
In July, I said, “Look, I really need to spend some time with my family. I hate only being home on the weekends. Can I take an extra three days?” My leave was two weeks, and I wanted an extra three days.
They said, “No, you can’t because you’ve already taken heaps of leave over Christmas, and it’s going to look like you’re taking a lot of leave.” I said, “But hang on, you guys said I had to take the leave, and you said it’ll be okay.”
This was a multinational company with its headquarters located in Japan. So, the request went up the chain, and they kept saying, “No. No. No.” My request kept getting denied, so I said, “No. Stuff it. This is it. I need to spend time with my family.”
At that point, I’d already got the side hustle rolling, and we were probably doing about $3,000 – $4,000 a month. And so, I thought, “If I focus more on this, maybe I can get it to $10,000 pretty quickly.”
Will quickly learned the lesson doing due diligence before jumping into business
Will: There’s another side of the story.
I met this local magazine publisher, and he had an extensive client base. He said, “Look, you’re so good at this copy stuff. Come onboard and work with me. I’ll literally walk you into my clients, and we’ll sell them your services. You’ll get $10,000 a month easily, and we’ll all make a whole bunch of money. Everything’s going to be awesome. No problems.”
It was around April or May when I gave my notice in. I went on a big trip with my family, returned, and walked into the first client this magazine company had. They were like, “Dude, get out or I’ll call the police. You forced us in your magazine for the past two quarters. We’ve got nothing from it. Stop harassing us. Get out.”
And so, I actually left corporate too early based on someone else’s story they sold to me. We struggled for the next 18 months (went backwards) and put all our life savings into it. At one point, we couldn’t pay the mortgage. I had to sell one of our cars to meet next month’s mortgage payments.
So, it wasn’t an easy journey. And there were so much emotion, stress, and pressure behind it all. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.
When is it too early to quit your corporate role?
Matt: Doing it that way was tough. You needed to be on our course; we would’ve helped you. That’s what we do – we help people transition.
It’s interesting to hear you decided to quit your job, but you did it too quickly. You put your trust in someone else, and it fell through. You hadn’t built the foundations in place at that point.
Will: No, I didn’t have enough experience.
There are two ways to look at it. Jumping into the deep end built my experience really quickly.
But I would’ve been much more comfortable if I had another six months in my corporate job.
And instead of taking seven years to get to where we are, it would’ve taken me three years.
Matt: That’s really good advice. Our readers need to understand that there is danger in quitting their corporate job too early.
I know it’s always awesome hearing how people are quitting their corporate jobs, but this is why I love people to tell their stories about how long it really took. It’s not something you should do too early in the piece.
If you’d just hung in there for another six months, I guess it would’ve given you a fair bit more money (presumably $75,000 if you’re earning $150,000). So that 18 months was very challenging.
How Will turned things around to create a 7-figure digital agency
Matt: Why do you think it turned around for you after 18 months? Was it just the sheer bloody-mindedness, do you think?
Will: I think so. There was a lot of skill and mindset acquisition I didn’t have when I left corporate.
I would’ve been much further ahead if I had your program back then. But I just didn’t have the support. And I’m not just saying this to blow smoke, but your community gives a good support network that I didn’t have at the time.
The challenges Will had to overcome to operate a business as an introvert
Will: The only thing I had when I decided to quit was a sales coach because I couldn’t sell. But there were so many mindset things I couldn’t do.
I was massively introverted and had a phone phobia. When I used to talk to my wife on the phone, she would say to me, “Look, babe, just message me because you’re not communicating well.”
So, I had all this stuff to overcome.
- I was massively introverted, so I had to overcome that.
- I had to learn how to generate leads, which I had no idea how to do.
- I had to learn how to sell to leads, which I had no idea how to do.
- I had no case studies to back myself up, so I had to ask for testimonials.
All these things impacted me negatively. Every single day I had to get through all the mental blocks that I had.
And I didn’t have the support network to help me and say things like, “Hey, why are you thinking about it this way?”
I just had to push through the wall and eat dirt, wake up the next day, do the same thing, and get through to the point where I’ve proven to myself, “Hey, maybe you can do this because you’ve been doing this for the past 12 months.”
Finances were tough and he was almost ready to quit his business…
Will: The tipping point came just before I was ready to quit. And I remember this so vividly because I was saying to my wife, “Look, we’ve already sold the car which bought us one or two months. But I don’t think the business will sustain us even after two months. What have I done?”
We were in such a good position, and now I’m never going to recover things financially. Like the meme from Tiger King, “I’m never going to recover this financially.”
And then she said, “Look, I can see that you’ve actually changed and grown a lot. And the business has matured a lot since it started. Sure, you can start sending resumes but don’t do that yet. Keep pushing and give it another month or two. We’ve got two months’ worth of breathing space. Sure, start lining up job interviews if you want, but just believe in yourself for another two months.”
But then it turned around and Will made his first $12,500 per month
Will: After she said that, things just fell into place the following week. I got a speaking gig, where I spoke about the system we had built over the past 18 months.
Even though the revenue sucked, we still got pretty good results for our clients. So, I got up on stage and talked about what we did, our system. From that one single presentation, I landed two clients at $6,500 a month. That helped to pay our bills.
I was doing absolutely everything for these clients. But I was able to pay the mortgage, put food on the table, and I knew I could survive this. And if these guys were willing to pay me $6,500 a month, then I know there are others. I’ve just got to go and find them.
Matt: That is awesome! And that’s what we teach, too – when you make your first dollar online (or your first $1,000), you’ve just got to replicate it another nine times. That’s pretty much the goal most people want per month.
So, when you get that first $6,000 client, you’re up and away. At this stage, it’s starting to turn around, and things rapidly changed over the next four years.
What does Will do to get his big clients?
Matt: Have you always gone for these bigger clients? How did you get that mindset?
Will: Yes, there was a turning point in terms of my mindset. I had reached the point where revenue was good, but I was tired. I knew that we needed to change something. The sales were okay, but we were working for smaller clients who were quite demanding.
And so, I brought on a coach to help me. He is someone we would both know, James Schramko.
Will’s first big lesson in knowing what to charge…
Will: In the first month, he put me in touch with one of his other clients and said, “Look, these are big clients, and they’re not going to take you seriously if you charge the fees you’re charging now.”
I was charging $5,000 for a sales setup with this one client. He said to me, “Look, you’re going to generate them millions of dollars. If all you are charging is $5,000, they’ll not bring you on board because it’s a risk to them. You need to get to the right level.”
He said, “Go in at $15,000.” I was like, “No way! Look, I’ll double my fees.” And they were just like, “Oh, $10,000? Are you sure? That sounds really cheap. Are you sure you can do this job?”
I realised I should have charged $15,000! But that was the moment that changed my mindset. If I’m making these guys millions of dollars every single year (and it wasn’t just a one-off thing. It was a campaign that could run over and over again), then why am I only charging $5,000? It didn’t make sense.
He now knows he can charge clients more because of the value he provides to their business
Will: From that moment, I said, “Well, I’m going to make my clients millions. The least I could do is give them the security of knowing that we know.”
At that point, I had a team behind me in the Philippines. And I knew that, as a sole operator, I couldn’t get the results I get for my clients without my team behind me.
So, the more I charge, the more I can pay my team. The higher my team members’ skillset, the better results my clients get.
It’s not just a matter of, “I’m going to charge this because we can.” It’s more like, “Let’s do the best job possible because these are great companies. They want fast growth. It’s not about what they’re paying me. It’s about the potential opportunity costs for them if they don’t get the jobs done right.”
And so, to make sure we minimise the risk on the opportunity cost for them, I need key team members. I need A-plus team members. But I can only get A-plus team members if I charge what we’re worth.
So, I can make a little profit but also pay my team and myself. So, that’s the transition that got me to understand why we need to work with the right clients. Are we delivering value? Because if we can generate a million dollars, why wouldn’t they pay us $100,000?
How does Will grow his team for his digital agency?
Matt: So that’s the sorts of results you’re getting. You’ve been able to drive this agency through consistency and all the mindset you’ve discussed. And you’re getting good results.
You specialise in email marketing, email campaigns, and copywriting. At first, it was you doing everything. But now I’m presuming you’ve replicated that amongst your team.
How big is your team, and how have you grown it over the years?
Will: Our team is around 18 strong at the moment.
A big portion of that is people based in the Philippines. We’ve brought them into the team, trained them from scratch and invested in them.
My first hire was from the Philippines when we first started. Their role was to take away all the tasks I was doing at a low value, tasks that I shouldn’t have been focusing on.
It gave me back about 10 hours a week, allowing me to focus more on thinking and writing better copy.
When it comes to things like copy, the thing that differentiates the best copywriters is the quality of their thinking, quality of their questions, quality of their research, and quality of experience in businesses or industries they’ve worked in.
So, I started to spend more time thinking about the campaigns rather than just writing them. What are the different hooks that we can use? What can we test?
Outsource tasks you’re not good at, so you can focus on your superpower
Will: As I started spending more time around that, I built people into the teams.
For example, I’m really bad at design. If we needed conversion optimisation, I would hire a good designer from the Philippines to do stuff that I wasn’t good at. What takes her two hours to do used to take me a week. And so, she would take all the design off my hands.
Then I hired someone who’s great at WordPress stuff. He would come in and build the funnels and pages for us. So, rather than mucking around with cloud hosting, someone else takes care of all that.
So, I gradually started building the team around tasks that were taking up a lot of my time.
Today, there are 18 people behind the scenes thinking through this stuff. They’re finding the contacts we will send emails to, building the pages, doing the graphic design, etc.
I’ve also got fantastic project managers and client success directors who spend all the time thinking about the clients and how we can get better results for them. So, that’s taking a lot of the load off.
It wasn’t overnight, but that’s how we’ve grown.
Will’s entire team is virtual…
Matt: Is it just you here in Australia, or is all your team in the Philippines?
Will: We’re 100% remote. I’ve got myself another employee in Australia.
My client success director is in Taiwan, by way of LA (she’s an American living in Taiwan). And I’ve got a couple of other team members in the U.S. as well. So, we’re kind of worldwide.
…And he now works from his office in Manly Beach where he can surf whenever he wants
Matt: You just run it from home on the Northern beaches in Sydney. You get to go surfing now, living the life that you want. Life is slightly different from when you were in your corporate days.
Will: I’ve got two locations now.
This is my little office here where I come. And I’ve got this office because I’m literally a step downstairs into Manly Beach. I’ll grab the board, cross the road, and jump in the water. So, I’ll come and do that.
And I’ve also got my home office where I work most of the time.
Matt: That is awesome.
Is there opportunity for multi-language websites?
Matt: And just a little side question, but I’ve got to ask you this. You speak Chinese. Is that useful in your agency being based here in Australia, or is it a non-event? Is that a value-add?
Will: It’s more of a non-event for me, to be honest because I’m really bad at speaking Chinese.
I grew up in Australia, so I’ve got a strong accent when I try and speak. My parents are like, “How did you live with this accent which makes no sense?” So, it’s been a bit of a nonissue, to be honest.
Matt: So, you don’t do any copywriting in Chinese? Because I imagine that would be a highly paid skill, by the way. But far out, that would be a full-on role, wouldn’t it?
Will: That would be massive. And even knowing between the two worlds. A lot of the copy is about empathy and understanding how your prospects and readers feel. And the way that the two cultures think is very, very different. So the copy would have to be very different too.
So far, I haven’t been able to do the switch in terms of mindset. I’ve got enough work as it is!
Matt: That is super cool. It’s just interesting because we own multi-language websites ourselves. And I’m always a fan of them.
If you’ve got the advantage of speaking a second language, it’s really smart to use that when you’re online.
But obviously, it doesn’t make that much difference in a digital agency. Because, if you’ve got so much business here in Australia anyway, it doesn’t matter.
Will’s advice for someone starting a Digital Agency
Matt: Will, I think you’ve inspired many of our readers today through sharing your story and for us to learn what your journey’s been like.
We look at you now, and you’ve got this 7-figure agency. You work from Manly Beach and off surfing every day. But you’re doing these big corporate deals now, and I know your clients are very, very happy with your results.
As you said, it’s just a system. And I would say that was built out of your passion for copywriting.
So, looking back through your journey, do you have any words of advice for someone starting in our community? If they’re in their first 18 months online, what words of advice would you give if they’re doing the digital agency strategy?
Tip #1: Become an expert in ONE thing
Will: I think they need to get good at one thing.
We’ve gotten really good at the email game, and our pricing has increased because we’re known as experts. And it’s been a lot easier to systemise everything we do in the background.
We do a couple of other things like funnels etc., but the core of what we do is the email outreach system, and we do that really, really well.
And once our clients are like, “Well, you made me a million dollars here, can you help with this website funnel stuff?” That’s something that we do after they’ve worked with us for a while and made them a bunch of money.
Tip #2: Leverage your business by creating systems
Will: I think the biggest thing that worked for us was systemising. Because when I first started, I was charging people $1,500 – $2,000 a month. I did Google ads, Facebook ads, website optimisation, SEO, and everything in the sun. But none of it well.
Being known for that one thing we do really well is what helped us. Because nowadays, when people ask, “Who’s really good at lead gen or who’s good at cold emails?” our name pops up.
I’ve got leads coming from places I don’t even know, where they say, “Oh, someone’s mentioned you from somewhere.” That’s helped us to grow.
So, pick the one thing that you really like, that not many other people are doing (or not that many other people are doing it the way you do it), get good at that, and get known for that. That will fuel the growth and make things go much faster for you.
How cold emailing helped an introvert to network and find clients
Matt: Actually, that makes me think; here you are, an introvert, and your specialty was doing cold emails, wasn’t it? That was one of the things you got really good at.
It’s interesting because we teach that in our course (not cold emails, cold calling). You wouldn’t have liked that, but the cold emails are interesting. You found that worked well and specialised in that in the early days.
Will: Just thinking about cold calling gives me cold sweats all over. I tried it a couple of times and was literally sick after the second call I made. That’s how bad I was; I just couldn’t do it.
But the way we write is very different to a lot of the cold email outreach you see. We get super creative, use humour, and use a lot of personalisation. I think that helps us. My personality shines through writing versus through talking on the phone. So, that’s how we’ve incorporated and built everything that way.
Matt: So, that’s been the one big thing you focus on.
Will can now use his digital skills to build a portfolio of income-generating websites
Matt: For anyone reading this, as Will said earlier – at first, you’ve got to learn everything and have a go of different things.
Would your advice be to find what you’re best at, focus on that and grow from there?
Matt: And of course, my advice to you, Will, with your digital skills, you are going to be buying some websites as well and build your portfolio over the coming years.
Will: I’m actually taking your advice and will focus on one website we’re going to build. And we’re investing about $5,000 – $10,000 a month on building this site.
The goal is to get it to a $100,000 revenue in the next 12 to 24 months. So, rather than buying, we’re going to build.
Matt: That’s the other really smart strategy. And for someone like you with your skills (just like anyone in our community), building websites is excellent to hear.
So, watch this space, guys. I’m sure we’ll have Will back on here to talk about that.
But, Will, a big thank you today for coming on and sharing your inspiring story. And people can get in touch with you at Growth Labz, if they like.
Thanks so much, mate, for coming on today. It was unreal.
Will: Thanks, Matt, for having me on.
How to transition out of your corporate job
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