Mark Robinson of Albion Forest: “Naming your company is important”

Naming your company is important. Really important. I’ve touched on this earlier, but if I could go back I would absolutely change my company name to ‘the mortgage man’ or similar. It says exactly what I do without needing to read on. As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before […]

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Naming your company is important. Really important. I’ve touched on this earlier, but if I could go back I would absolutely change my company name to ‘the mortgage man’ or similar. It says exactly what I do without needing to read on.

As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Robinson.

Mark started his new company in mid 2020. As a successful mortgage broker he decided to set up his own company in the middle of a global Pandemic. Some would say this would have been his first mistake however he made the company thrive over the last 6 months and the company goes from strength to strength. Mark now spends most of his time helping Teachers get mortgages across the UK priding himself on his customer service.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Certainly. I started in the Financial services industry a few years ago and have enjoyed every second of it. In early 2020 I decided that I would take the plunge and start my own Mortgage Brokerage. We obviously had a few setbacks, the least of which being a Global Pandemic. However by mid 2020 I was ready, I had made all the arrangements and could start my journey of being a Company Director.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I suppose the start of all this would be nearly two years ago. I was working for a mortgage brokerage, arranging Life insurance. I decided I wanted to do something, I wanted to change. I spoke to my Wife and we talked about my plan. It all seemed rather like a pipedream at the time.

Over the next 12 months I researched what I needed to do. I spoke to people in the industry and began to jump the first hurdles to being able to do what I do now. Then, between June and August 2020 it all happened rather quickly and by September my company was trading.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

My first month was the hardest (so far). I had no idea where my clients were going to come from. I had some clients by referral from friends or people I had helped in the past. Initially it seemed hopeless. I didn’t consider giving up, but I had no idea how I was going to get new clients.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

The biggest thing that has led to success over a relatively short space of time was when I decided to make a decision. I sat and thought hard about who I wanted to work with, who I wanted to help. Then I set out to speak to those people.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think my company stands out due to it being personal. I personally speak to my clients about everything. I don’t hand them off to another member of my team. I had a client come to me in December. She was a Teacher and she had been told she couldn’t have a mortgage by two other Mortgage Advisors. I went through everything with her and as I talk to Teachers day in and day out for work I had a solution for her. We applied for her mortgage, and the very next day had her mortgage offer from the lender. That was on Christmas Eve, I wasn’t working Christmas Eve, but I didn’t want her to wait until after New Year to find out about this. So I took 5 minutes and gave her a call.

I think that’s what makes my company stand out.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

I don’t know about the funniest. But I’ve made a fair few. I think naming my company would be the first one. If you want to name your company, think carefully. The simplest way and what I would do if I could go back would be to name the company after the area you are in, plus the service you provide.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

When I started out I was told to do everything the same as every other person trying to do what I’m doing. I did at first, but when I went outside the box, and did things differently to what is the norm I found people liked it. People liked me being me, i’m sure not everyone but certainly enough.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Determination, Patience and thinking outside the box.

I’m not sure I have a story for these. But they all apply to everything I do every day. Trying new ideas constantly, having a plan and sticking to it. Patience is the hardest thing, returns are not alway immediate.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Limit your work time. When I first started out I spent every minute working. I’d go to bed unable to sleep for all the ideas swimming around in my head. I would recommend blocking out your time for different tasks. Take time off, it’s ok to have a day off.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Being unwilling to invest to make something work. It doesn’t need to necessarily be financial investment. Investing time is also important. And outsource. I work under a plan of Outsource something that takes time that I don’t enjoy. But I like to learn how to do everything myself before outsourcing it. I like to understand the things I’ve handed off.

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

For me it was advertising. I understand this will not be the same for every industry. I thought I would just make a company, make a website and people would come. This was probably just me being naive, however, it has ended up being where I put most of my efforts. Building an infrastructure to allow me to advertise.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Naming your company is important. Really important. I’ve touched on this earlier, but if I could go back I would absolutely change my company name to ‘the mortgage man’ or similar. It says exactly what I do without needing to read on.
  2. Patience — Sounds simple, but when you try something new you need to have patience. Don’t try it for a day and bin it if it’s not giving returns.
  3. Have someone proofread your work. I write blog articles regularly. And I make huge mistakes constantly, I’m not a journalist in short. I have made so many typos and grammar mistakes in articles.
  4. Spend money to make money — You don’t need to spend a lot. In fact, don’t spend what you can’t afford. But you will probably need to spend something. It set me back months by not spending money from the outset.
  5. Outsource — Let’s face it. We don’t know everything, or rather I don’t know everything at least. I like to learn new things, but ultimately, is it worth your time?

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A system to help people stuck in rental properties onto the property ladder. They pay their rent on time every month but they can’t afford to save as they’re paying so much rent. People should be able to evidence their ability to maintain a mortgage from rental payments being on time each month.

How can our readers further follow you online?

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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