You can listen to Neil’s story by clicking below

“ I handed my notice in at about ten past nine in the morning, thought about some names for a business, by about midday I’d got a website and by about five o’clock I was ringing people asking for work.  I don’t think I’m any more talented than anybody, I don’t think I’m any more passionate or hardworking than anybody, I just knew what I wanted.”

Neil Bent, Able Marketing Communications Ltd

Lonsdale College, BSc Hons Management Science and Marketing, 1989

Following a career in advertising, public relations and sales promotions consultancies working for some of the world’s most recognised brands, Neil founded his own full service marketing communications consultancy, based in the North West but providing nationwide capability. He specialises in strategic planning and public relations, and has a beautifully dry sense of humour.

Family values are important to you and you say your Dad was your inspiration for having your own business?

My dad had a business when I was very young, he went out of business, he’d gone bankrupt, we had to move into a council house in the centre of Birmingham and we even split up as a family for a while. Through all of that we had a really good family relationship and the one thing that had always struck me as we were growing up was the fact my Mum and Dad would do absolutely anything to keep the family together.  And so I always had that feeling that I wanted my own business; I wanted to be the person who was in charge of my own destiny.  I wouldn’t let anybody tell me one day I didn’t have a job and I couldn’t provide for my family.

What lessons have you learned from starting up?

The first big lesson that I would say, attitude is really really important.  You don’t have to be the most skilled or the most experienced person, but if you’re prepared to bang your head against a brick wall until it bleeds or the wall breaks through, you will get there.

You need self belief too. Self-belief, but that’s not arrogance, don’t be arrogant, you don’t know everything and you can’t do it all by yourself, collaboration is really important, but you can believe in yourself, believe in your abilities.  And be passionate, be enthusiastic and people buy people, they don’t buy businesses and products and brands, they buy people.

What’s really important to you for the future?

My ambition now is not to be the biggest, it’s not to be the richest, I don’t earn as much money now as I earned 20 years ago, but I really enjoy what I do and I wouldn’t swap it. And I think just in terms of some lessons, my priorities have changed, it’s not about the money, it’s about being respected for what I say rather than liked for saying the right thing.

You can Neil’s LinkedIn profile here.


For more inspiration and stories of success and failure, return to the Startup Stories gallery.

You can also;

  • Search Inspire Me for news and articles from current students who are making things happen for themselves.
  • Sign up to the newsletter here to keep up to date with enterprise at Lancaster.
  • Get in touch and find out what we have to offer to support students, staff and alumni.

If you’re a Lancaster alumnus with a story to share, or if you would like to express an interest in mentoring an entrepreneurial student, let us know here.