Increasingly, today's young generation are turning their back on traditional career paths to take on the challenge of running their own business. We spoke to three young people who have experience of running their own business.
Findlay Downing, The Little Cufflink Shop
"I learned from a young age that I didn't really want to go to University," begins Findlay Downing, already a serial entrepreneur at the age of 19, adding, "The main life goal was to run my own business."
Downing was initially inspired to launch his own career as an SME owner while at school, quickly developing a keen taste for the challenges of running a business.
"We did a practical lesson in school about business and ever since then I've wanted to run my own business, it's been a dream, so it's finally coming true," Downing shares, elaborating, "I set up the Little Cufflink Shop and within a month was getting my first orders. After eight or nine months of running that I decided to open up another one: that was the little bracelet shop."
Not satisfied with two businesses already under his belt, the driven teenage entrepreneur has since set up two new online ventures under the same model, with the most recent one launching just this week, and reports all are performing well.
Despite his success though, Downing admits there have been challenges along the way. "I knew it was going to be quite difficult to set up my own business," Downing states. "I'd say the biggest challenge was the cost," the young business owner continues, "A lot of small businesses are quite expensive to set up which is why I spent quite a long time finding cheaper suppliers. "
Having overcome these initial barriers, Downing is delighted to see his business ambitions coming to fruition, offering encouragement for other budding young entrepreneurs. "I spent quite a long time deliberating over whether I should do it," Downing mentions, commenting, "I regret taking so long. I wish I'd just done it as soon as I'd thought about it, so my biggest bit of advice would be just get on and do it."
Nathan Winch, Winch Pharma Group
Nathan Winch, founder of Winch Pharma Group, is another example of an ambitious young entrepreneur who spotted a gap in the market and saw an opportunity to fill it.
"When I started the business I'm in now, I was on work experience from the NHS, in research and development," Winch begins, relating, "I kind of spotted problems that I thought, you know, were handled ridiculously so I thought I could handle these better. That's kind of where the initial ideas came from and it took off from there."
Winch downplays the challenge of launching a business, suggesting drive is the most important factor for young entrepreneurs. "You've got to want to do it with no hesitation and that's the main thing,"
Winch confirms. "With it being your own business, the hours are pretty much all the time, aren't they really, so wanting to do it without any kind of hesitation then having the determination to carry it through."
"It seems like a daunting process and everything but it seems commonplace once you've started it and you're doing it over and over again," assures Winch. In fact, he admits to finding the initial process of launching a business fairly straightforward. "Starting up the business wasn't difficult at all," Winch shares, adding, "I think gaining access to finance is probably the most difficult. I probably financed 95 per cent of it myself in the end."
While the young entrepreneur believes the situation for fledgling businesses has much improved since he founded his first company over six years ago, Winch still believes more could be done to provide vital support to help SMEs grow to the next level."Once you've started trading, there's not much support after the initial stages.
The onus is on getting people starting up but it's not so much on helping them expand and grow," Winch relates, concluding, "Once you start trading, three or four or five months in I think that's where the lack of support is."
As the banking champion of SMEs, Aldermore hopes to see these talented young entrepreneurs find even greater success in 2014 and beyond, inspiring a new generation of business founders and driving forward the UK economy.
Rob Tominey, Mainstage Travel
Rob Tominey, co-founder of Mainstage Travel with fellow young entrepreneur Aden Levin, tells a similar story of discovering an enterprising spark at a young age. "We always wanted to start a business; it was about finding the right idea," Tominey shares. "We love going on holiday so it was kind of the perfect thing to do: the perfect thing to do in an area that we love."
Described by Tominey as a hybrid between a festival and travel company, Mainstage Travel offers competitively priced travel packages for young people to a range of destinations including Ibiza, Magaluf and the ski slopes of Andorra. The popularity of this offering has earned the company rapid growth since its launch in late 2011, not to mention a recent £100,000 investment on the BBC's Dragon's Den, though there were some initial hurdles to overcome.
"There are two sides of being a young entrepreneur. Partly it's harder because you've got absolutely no experience, so you're going into everything just absolutely blind," explains Tominey. "The challenges are getting people to respect you," the enterprising 24 year old continues, "That's the biggest challenge, getting respect, but then once you get over that barrier you've got a lot more potential."
Tominey believes SMEs, and particularly young business owners, have something unique to bring to the economy, questioning current practices and bringing a fresh approach to their work.
"They're there to shake things up a bit and give a whole new perspective on old industries," Tominey states, adding, "Young entrepreneurs are the ones that are able to bring the best ideas to the table because they're unrestrained by maybe years of corporate culture or any pessimism whatsoever; because the young entrepreneurs are the ones that are the most free-thinking and optimistic."
With this advantage in mind, Tominey shares a piece of advice with other young people considering a career as a business owner: "Start as early as possible really, because a lot of the time you worry that you're not going to be able to know enough to do what you're doing or you're not going to have enough experience but the best way to get that experience is to try.
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