Five young entrepreneurs tell how they have taken alternative post-education routes to turn their passions into successful businesses
Whether you’re leaving school, college or university, finding the right career path can seem a daunting prospect.
With UK university applications dropping by 5% and the 2017 academic year coming to a close, a recent survey of business owners found that it’s Generation Z that express the most entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, with 78% of 16-to-24 year-olds saying they wanted to run a business when they were a child.
This figure drops significantly with every generation, so there’s never been a better time to explore the future of start-ups.
With this in mind, Yell Business has spoken to successful young entrepreneurs who started their own businesses, and found out how they turned ideas and dreams into a reality from as young as 18.
One Girl Band – Lola Hoad
Lola began her entrepreneurial journey when she was 18, and always knew she wanted to do something different. Now at 22, she runs One Girl Band, a collective for female entrepreneurs and creatives who are seeking empowerment, support and connection. She achieves this through a huge online and offline community, coaching, a popular weekly podcast and newsletter and a female co-working space in the heart of Brighton.
Lola says: “Don’t be afraid of your differences – utilise them! It’s important to fuel your career choice from your passions and break the mould a bit. Networking is also key to getting ahead, so make good contacts and also be a good contact for connecting people.”
The Cornish Gouda Company – Giel Spierings
The Cornish Gouda Company was created when Giel was 19, after his family were forced to put their dairy farm up for sale. He knew that he could buy milk from the farm at a fair rate whilst profitably producing an artisan cheese, so his side business was born.
To drive the business forward, he began working with coaches from Transform, a support programme based in Cornwall, for those with ambitions for growth. The Cornish Gouda Company is now an award-winning business.
Giel says: “Seek help from business coaches to learn how to join the dots. External funding can also help bridge the gap between an idea and the reality, so take advantage of this to kick start a new business. Once up and running, a quick and effective way of gaining further exposure is to enter into industry and customer awards.”
Qudini – Imogen Wethered
Imogen’s journey started when she was 23 after attending a Hackathon, which sparked her to begin her career in tech and Qudini was born. Qudini is a customer management experience platform which solves queuing using mobile technology.
The technology is utilised by O2, Telefonica, John Lewis, Honest Burgers, Hoppers and a number of other global retail brands. Now 27, her knowledge of the tech business has skyrocketed through application, and the company continues to increase market share.
Imogen says: “Throw yourself in the deep end! This is the best way to learn, and when running your own business you will want results quickly. Increasing knowledge through application is also key, to allow you to grow your skills as much as possible to keep up with the changing tides of business.”
Taynuilt Hotel – John McNulty
John’s love of food and the restaurant business started when he was 13, propelling him to buy The Taynuilt Hotel in Argyll at just 22. A renovation project followed, and the opening of The Snug restaurant awarded him with two AA Rosettes and great acclaim by the time he was 27. John offers an intimate dining experience, which is made possible by the strong team he has built around him and the hours he’s put in to make this project a success.
John says: “Aim for the highest standards you can. This comes from dedicating a lot of your time initially, learning the basics and consistent practicing, but it will pay off in the long run. Once you have the basics down, curating a visionary team will help to extend these standards and progress them.”
Timpanys – Antonia Timpany
Antonia set up Timpanys straight from university, born from a passion for combining fashion with economics and educating people to shop wisely for investment. Timpanys runs as a brick-and-mortar store and website, reselling and sourcing luxury designer goods by fashion houses such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada. Antonia also films weekly video blogs with tutorials and ideas for fashionistas.
Antonia says: “Think about a problem or a gap in the market and jump on it – but also ensure you’re passionate about it to keep the momentum going through the tricky parts of starting a business. Offering the best possible service can help you to differentiate yourself quickly if you’ve chosen a route with many competitors. Attention to detail is so important.”