I set up LeftMedia when I was 21, having worked as a freelancer for a couple of years, learning my “craft.” For years I wondered if I was the only young person in business, a bit naive when I look back now. But working with established businesses and in a business world dominated by big brands, it can seem that way. According to a book I am reading, the average age a person launches their startup is 34, despite the hype around young “Silicon Valley” and “Shoreditch” teenage tech superstars. I think there is space for lots more young business owners, we have a specific set of characteristics which make us the ideal types to lead businesses to change the world, not just the business one.
So, what are these skills and how can you grow to become the next Richard Branson or Steve Jobs?
This might seem a little obvious. You’ve got an idea, you are excited about it. And? Well, I know as a 22 year old that I sometimes get a little more excited than my older colleagues and friends. Some people might see this as a little childish. Let them think that. Use your excitement for your idea and generally to create an amazing app, business or experiences for your target market.
Closeness to your target market
Thinking of targeting the demographic chased by lots of businesses (16 -24) – you’re one of the best placed people to do that. You’re close in age to your market. You use the products that other people your age use. You know what you need. Create something that would make your life easier, that you care about and it stands a chance other people your age will be quick to take it up. In another book I read (I’ve been reading a lot of marketing books lately) carving a niche is one of the most important factors when launching a business or app, find your niche in a young demographic.
My top tips
If I had my time again, I would love to have used more of resources I know about now. Here’s some of the top ways to make your life a little easier now and when you’ve grown your business:
- Get as much help from a mentor as possible – When I grew LeftMedia I enlisted the help of the Business Growth Service. This was an amazing step to take, help with understanding how sectors work, how to market to new and existing customers without the hard sell and how to get help with capital. If you are starting up a good place to start is Start Up Loans – they also offer mentoring and support too.
- Speak to as many people in business as you can – Being young is another advantage when trying to get advice, people with experience in running their own business are (in my experiences) more than happy to share their successes and failures. Don’t be a “typical teenager” and think you know everything. Listen. The mistakes they have made are probably ones you could make.
- Learn, read, learn – You’ve left school, college or university. You’ve got a great idea and you’re working hard. Don’t stop learning. Constantly look for new information to grow your skills and understanding of your market and business. I’m currently reading How to Build a Billion Dollar App – it’s only a tenner on Amazon and I’m finding its insight from leading entrepreneurs of our time, not only helpful but really inspiring too.
- Travel – this might seem like an odd one when you’re working all the hours you have to get your business off the ground, or to take it to the “next level” – everyone needs a break. It can even be a business trip. I recently travelled to London for a few days to meet with some clients, I took the time to visit the Imperial War Museum whilst I was there, a rare 5 minutes to myself not only gave me time to think clearly but gave me inspiration for my work when I got back.
- Work with friends – something else I read in a book I read last year, a team is better than one lone genius. It might seem like more work to share your idea and teach people to work the way you do. But, working with even just one other person can be a massive help. I worked for a couple of years on my own, now I work with my best friend, he has skills I don’t have – together we come up with new ideas I couldn’t have on my own.
- Give out some business cards – this isn’t a plug for one of my products, although if you do want to have a look at some business cards… Every person you talk to about your idea or business, give them a business card. They might go away and talk to a friend or colleague about how great they thought you were, who knows who they might be? Perhaps your next big client or investor.
In summary, you are one of the best placed people in business to launch and/or grow your idea. Do it. If you want to have a chat about your idea or some advice, drop me an email.