Advice to my younger self: Paul Mackman from the Mackman Group in Sudbury offers advice from his years in business

Paul Mackman with his wife and business partner Gemma

Paul Mackman with his wife and business partner Gemma - Credit: Archant

Paul Mackman is vice chair of the Eastern Board Chartered Institute of Marketing and managing director of Sudbury-based marketing agency Mackman Group, which celebrates 15 years in business in 2018. Here, he offers some advice to his younger self.

How would you describe yourself at 18?

Very driven, enthusiastic, hard working, entrepreneurial and with a thirst for knowledge.

I grew up in Cornwall and at 18 had just spent the summer working on an American summer camp in the Catskills Mountains. I was on the brink of moving to Surrey in order to broaden my horizons and learn more about how the most successful businesses were run. I knew that I wanted to run my own business and was the first to recognise that I had much to learn

What three tips would you give to your younger self?


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Is there anything you would do differently?

Procrastinate less - easier said than done because when I look back at why I procrastinated it would have been either because I didn’t fully understand what to do or in what order due to lack of experience, or because I lacked confidence due to lack of knowledge.

Of course, the way to overcome both is to research, learn the principles and to throw yourself into a task and learn from any mistakes.

Are there any projects you are particularly proud of?

When I was 14 I worked hard all summer to save enough to buy the best double cassette deck my money would buy.

I then gathered as many ‘bootleg’ tapes as possible - the sort available in Camden market which were live recordings of bands in concert. Absolutely illegal but those were the days of the new Sony Walkman which could record. I sold duplicated tapes on high quality TDK tapes that I bought in bulk. I made the covers from composite clippings taken from the New Musical Express (NME).

I used to go to night clubs and wander around selling the tapes from a small leather suitcase I had bought from a car boot sale. They were £5 each and I also sold them via the classifieds in the NME as a postal service.

I liked the independence that cash in my pocket gave me and it was my first business. Later, I ran a very successful music business in Surrey for a national retailer.

Can you point to a turning point, a landmark which told you that your business would be a success?

Winning competitive business research tender to work with Twinings. When a company like Twinings (which incidentally has the world’s oldest continuously used logo) commissions you to speak to their most valued customers for almost a decade you know you must be doing something right.

Why is Suffolk a good place to do business?

Suffolk is just a good place, I really like living in this area and it’s a great place to bring up children and have a family. It’s also a fantastic location to run a business, there is so much natural raw talent available.

Being in Suffolk means being surrounded by vibrant businesses and a pool of hard working talented people who value what we have to offer. The county has fantastic food and a rich cultural heritage with easy access to London.

I have to specifically mention Sudbury as well because I consider it the jewel that sits in the crown of Suffolk, a pretty market town surrounded by the stunning water meadows. I genuinely consider myself fortunate to spend so much time here.

If you could relive one day, what would it be?

The day I met my wife because if I knew then what I know now I would have paid more attention.

If you were to choose one motto what would it be?

Keep moving forward.

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