Callum Griffiths of Clydach Farm Group
We caught up with three teenage entrepreneurs to hear all about the advantages and challenges that come with starting up a business whilst in your teens…
New research has revealed that children as young as seven years old are receiving an average of £570 a year (£11 a week) in ‘earnings’, and almost half (49%) currently have a side business to earn extra cash.
With last year seeing an increase of 2 million small businesses since the year 2000, it’s no wonder almost one third (32%) of kids in the UK admit that when they grow up they want to own a business of their own; with a blogger/vlogger (8.5%) being the most popular business choice.
But, what’s it like for young people starting up in business given the current economic uncertainties? We caught up with three young entrepreneurs to hear all about the advantages and challenges that come with launching a business whilst in your teens…
Arminder Singh Dhillon – Boot Buddy
Arminder broke records when he became the youngest ever entrepreneur to slay the Dragons on hit BBC TV show Dragons’ Den last year, aged just 15.
He set up his business, Boot Buddy, when he was just 11, as an easy way to clean his football boots after getting fed up of being told off by his mother for bringing mud in to the house.
Inspiration struck after football training one day when Arminder combined a water bottle, plastic knife and washing up brush to create a very rudimentary version of the product.
Seeing its potential and having garnered the support of his parents, Arminder was able to draw up his design on a computer before making a fully functioning prototype - and Boot Buddy was born.
He told BQ: “It was my passion for football that inspired me to launch the business. I also think the fact that I come from an entrepreneurial family helped, they have supported me all the way.”
It was last year when his business really took off however, when he entered the Dragons’ Den alongside his mum and his brother Gurminder.
Arminder’s pitch was a success and he received the backing of three Dragons, Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and Touker Suleyman, who each backed the business with £20,000 for a 10% share.
However, being a young entrepreneur did bring with it challenges for Arminder.
“I think one of the biggest challenges that you face especially at this age is pitching to investors,” he added.
“It’s not that they don’t take you seriously but because of your age a lot of them don’t take much interest at first.
“If they’re being pitched to by someone in their teens like myself, it is not really that convincing, they think ‘they’re still just a teenager’.
“That is a tough barrier to overcome but luckily in my position I had people like my family, such as my brother, who gives me support if we go to pitches and meetings.
“I think another challenge is the lack of knowledge of business and experience. It’s not wide ranged and it can be a barrier at first but it is more of a mental barrier. Once you come to terms with it, it’s quite easy to overcome.
“At first it can be quite daunting launching a new business when you don’t have any experience but you gather experience over time.”
Arminder was keen to reiterate that being a young entrepreneur however does also have its advantages.
He stated: “I think one of the main advantages is age. As a young person you look at things from a different perspective.
“If you go into marketing, the younger generation are used to using social media whereas the elder generation often tend to look at below the line marketing and things like that, it can give you a real edge on your competitors.”
Since its launch, Boot Buddy has grown to be quite successful, selling to the likes of GoOutdoors and Sports Direct, as well as others.
“He added: “We’re now looking at expanding our high street presence to get more of a solid grounding and will then begin looking at the European and American markets.
“At the moment though, I’m studying for my A Levels at college and I’d like to go to university although I’m not sure what I’d like to study yet, preferably something which will benefit the business.
“After that I’d like to carry on with BootBuddy and expand it as a brand, the aim is to to bring more products to market in the future and continue growing the business!”
Alex Hill – Cambie & Co
Alex dropped out of university after just two months to launch her social media management agency Cambie + Co.
After returning home to Newcastle, she worked as a waitress and a barmaid before getting her first full time job at a social media agency.
However, after being unexpectedly made redundant, she took the brave step of setting up on her own and launched Cambie + Co.
She told BQ: “I was lucky enough to have a mum who also runs her own business, a web development and UX agency called 49digital.
“This allowed me to launch Cambie + Co. under the ‘umbrella’ of 49digital, as it was initially just supposed to be an arm of the company.
“That worked very well for a while, until only last week, when I decided it was time to go limited. Now I am pleased to say we are officially Cambie + Co. Ltd!”
However, Alex too had her fair share of challenges when starting up. She recalls: “I’ve been an academic my entire life, and never in a million years guessed I would be doing this today!
“So, for me, I was kind of launched into the business world with no experience or any idea of what to expect.
“I had my mum, which has been a huge help, but overall adapting to this completely new lifestyle and way of working has been a challenge. I love it though - I never look back!
“There’s also the issue of being patronised or looked down on by certain people because of my age and gender.
“A lot of people are still in a very old-fashioned mindset and aren’t used to seeing a lot of women in business, but that’s definitely changing very fast. I’m proud to be a part of the movement!
“None of these challenges have made me question my decision to become an entrepreneur. If anything, they motivate me to prove everyone wrong!”
The business might only be four months old, but it has already landed a number of clients and its portfolio is growing rapidly.
Alex adds: “We have grown more than I could have imagined in four months. As I mentioned before, we have just gone limited which is a huge milestone for us!
“We have collaborated with more businesses and gained some wonderful clients in the process.
“We will be starting a mentoring program in December, which will be focussed on helping us grow and scale even more.
“We started with just offering social media management, and now offer other services such as graphic and web design!
“This is all down to building a fantastic team of people with some amazing skills.”
Callum Griffiths – Clydach Farm Group
Young Welsh entrepreneur Callum Griffiths started his business with just two chickens when he was 13 years old.
Today, the 18-year-old is the owner of an animal nutrition and poultry business which exports animal feed across the continent and employs 12 people.
He said: “From as early as I remember, I was always commercially minded. Seizing every opportunity given to me to sell, market or create something.
“My first business was Clydach Poultry, breeders and purveyors of chickens for back-garden use in the Cardiff and Swansea areas.
“A natural progression from this was to produce chicken feed, to upsell to my existing customers and keep them visiting our premises.
“It was at this point I found my passion for animal nutrition. With a natural desire for business and a passion for nutrition, I started Clydach Pet Foods.
“I used every penny from the poultry business as capital to launch the pet food business, a gamble that has certainly paid off!”
However, similarly to Arminder and Alex above, Callum also faced his fair share of challenges when setting up the business.
He recalls: “Trust was a huge issue for me in my early days (bearing in mind I was 13 at the time of running Clydach Poultry). People are reluctant to buy from a younger figure and I understand that now.
“I never used to publicly display my age as it never worked in my advantage, not even for Trading Standards when they used to visit me! Sadly, it was more of a waiting game, and today people are more open to trading with myself as naturally, ‘I look older’.”
Another issue he faced was that of raising capital. Being such a young age at the time of launching the business, Callum found it difficult to persuade investors to take a punt on him.
He adds: “I found it physically impossible to secure any funding for either business. Unless you’re prepared to give away a chunk of equity for a poor share in return, the options are somewhat limited.
“This links directly back to trust, banks and building societies are seeming less and less willing to support. As a result of this, I had no choice but to organically grow the business. To date, we’ve never had a loan, outside investment or capex injection – we’re 100% organic, and that’s something I love!”
Despite this, Callum has managed to turn what started out as a chicken farm with two chickens into a fast-growing, international animal feed business – and he couldn’t be happier with how the business has developed.
He concluded: “Clydach has boasted CAGR growth of over 150% year-on-year, which is a fantastic measure of how we’ve grown.
“We’re a performance brand in our chosen international markets, taking a position of market share in France, Romania, Spain and more recently Greece.
“We’re growing in turnover, products, export markets, and in the number of people that we employ both here in Wales and overseas!”
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