People Per Hour have reported that the number of 18-24 year olds starting a small or micro-business almost doubled last year. Aldermore spoke to three enterprising individuals behind this crop of new businesses, uncovering what it takes to achieve success as a young entrepreneur.
"I've always thought this was something that I would want to do," begins Charlotte Bowers, the 25 year old behind artisan food outlet Charlotte's Fine Foods in London's Amwell Street, adding, "But I kind of imagined this would be something I'd come to maybe later in life."
After spending the past year researching her dream and putting together a business plan, Bowers recently opened her first food store, admitting, "I've had to learn so much about so many different things. That's probably one of the most exciting parts about being a business owner."
The ambitious young shopkeeper believes research has been vital to her success to date, advising, "You can do a bit of research and think you've got the answers but until you do a bit more looking around just to verify you've either got the best deal or covered all the bases, I don't think you're close to having the right answer."
While things may have settled into a more comfortable pace for Bowers since opening the shop, her eye is still firmly fixed on the future.
"It's very early days," I'm fairly ambitious and I think if this takes off and I can make it a success I hope to open another store and then another and grow it like that."
Simon Swan, co-founder of Hiring-Hub.com
Zoe Jackson, founder of Living the Dream
Living the Dream founder Zoe Jackson is a firm believer in the importance of businesses giving back to the communities that support them, having launched her business to improve access to the arts for less well-off young people.
"Because I couldn't afford the expensive performing arts training in our area, I wanted to create something where I knew other people who were suffering from the same problem could get involved and still experience the amazing activities," Jackson relates.
The 24 year old began putting on performing arts showcases at age 16, receiving such positive feedback that managing the venture evolved into a full-time career when she left University in 2010. Originally a performing arts school for local young people, Jackson's enterprise has evolved to also include a professional dance company specialising in flash-mobs and teambuilding events, and a charitable foundation spreading the joy of the arts to disadvantaged young people. The young business owner even has plans to launch her own talent management agency for up-and-coming performing arts stars.
In spite of this success, Jackson reveals, "There are loads of challenges. Obviously funding is always number one and that's tough to access."
"There are so many aspects of getting a business off the ground that are so complicated. It's about getting mentors and getting support online and meeting people and asking questions," Jackson summarises, warning other young SME owners not to be afraid of asking for help.
Patrick Philpott, founder of Visionpath Education
"No-one in my family has actually ever started a business," shared Patrick Philpott, "It was a slightly unusual ambition to have but really from quite a young age, from about the age of 12 or 13, I just had a real feeling that I wanted to work for myself."
Thankfully for Philpott, after learning from several failed fledgling ventures undertaken while at school, his ambition came true during his A-Level years, when he founded social enterprise Visionpath Education.
After five years in business, the company is now responsible for a number of successful vocational skills initiatives, including Skill Programme, which Aldermore has taken part in on several occasions.
"Essentially what it does is create a learning program in partnership with employers where ultimately professional development meets youth development," Philpott explains, elaborating, "We help young people develop skills for the future and help professionals improve their core skills by supporting, coaching and mentoring young people."
Philpott believes there's no time like the present for young people to pursue their business aspirations, before family commitments restrict flexibility, but that they must understand the level of commitment required.
"It's a lot of hard work," he states, "You really have to put in the hours to get things off the ground and I think as long as you know that from the outset and you're willing to invest that time at the beginning, it bears fruit later on."
Alongside continuing to expand Visionpath Education's reach beyond the handful of cities already covered by the programme, Philpott is also hoping to launch Opening Careers in the near future, an apprenticeships matching system to support young people break into their chosen career.
Aldermore wishes all three entrepreneurs the best of luck with their ventures, and will continue to support promising small businesses like these to enable the entrepreneurial spirit of Britain's young generation to thrive.
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