I started my first business when I was still in school, aged 15. I sold snowboarding clothing and equipment online. At the time I was a really keen snowboarder, so it was something that I had a big interest in at the time. I’ve been involved with a number of businesses over the years, and currently I run BizBritain, which I founded in 2012 in order to help young people get started in business.
BizBritain are currently working in conjunction with UK government as a national delivery partner of the the £310 Million Start Up Loans programme, an initiative which was set in motion by Lord Young and chaired by former BBC Dragon and entrepreneur, James Caan.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
There have been plenty of hurdles along the way, but one of the more notable things was making some poor choices around the quality staff we hired early on. We had to fire and replace a number of people who weren’t a great fit, and who didn’t perform at the level required. The moral of the story is to always hire the very best people you can afford, and make sure they fit the culture of your business.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Yes I did...I think everyone meets at least some resistance (or at least opinions) from friends, family, and peers when they first start out. But the best thing you can do is ignore it, and get on with your life. That’s what I did, and I wouldn’t
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Without a doubt, it was getting out and networking hard. In the early days I was constantly out at events and meetups trying to build up useful relationships. It was ultimately those relationships that lead to some of my biggest opportunities.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Don’t be afraid to approach senior/influential people like CEOs, politicians, investors etc. They are just people, and will usually be flattered by you approaching them for advice.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Stop caring about what other people think, and believe in your own ability to succeed. Most of success is down to your mind-set.
CEO & Founder of BizBritain, Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2016 Winner,
ranked top 50 on the S&W Power 100, columnist, and vlogger.