Hi, I’m Jonathan Wood and I first started my business, Eagle Travel, in mid-2014 at the age of just 14! My business specialises in bespoke holidays and business travel for professionals. Last year, Eagle Travel turned over £21,000 and made a net profit of £3,165; this year, however, Eagle Travel has made a turnover of £68,000 (profit of £8,700). I am now 16 and I’m approaching my 17th birthday, so having had a few years learning about the challenges that young entrepreneurs face when running a startup (as well as having the added pressure of being in full time education!),
This article is all about my story and the key lessons that I’ve learnt and hopefully, since it’s Small Business Saturday soon, those lessons will be ones that you can take away too for your small business!
1) Enjoy What You’re Doing
When you’re starting up for the first time in business, one of the biggest challenges that you’ll face is the seemingly endless and repetitive questions, questions such as “Why on earth should I trust a teenager with large amounts of my money to book my holiday?” or “Surely at that age you don’t have the experience to run a reliable business!”. This was particularly difficult for me because I was just 14 when I started and to an extent, some scepticism could be justified. However, the argument that I always made was I am providing a better service and better prices than lots of the well-known names and brands: what’s not to like!?
I actually started arranging holidays and trips just for family a couple of years before I founded Eagle Travel and I only did it because I enjoyed doing it; money was not always involved but you can imagine my excitement whenever I received a £20 cheque through the post from a family member, thanking me for the work I did for them! What I’m really trying to get at here is one should never start a business if they expect money to come rolling in straight away (try your luck in the lottery if you want that to happen!). Being a young entrepreneur isn’t just a waiting game, it’s a hard working game!
Although running a startup is a lot of hard work, it should absolutely be something you enjoy! As I’ve mentioned, in your first few years you will face challenges from people who just don’t get it and at times, it’ll be easier to stop then to carry on: enjoying what you do and your love for your business is the only way that you will pull through.
2) Find As many Networking Opportunities As Possible
Getting my name around and making connections with people is something that I am guilty of not doing enough of. I used to find meeting lots of new people a bit overwhelming, so I often tried to avoid them where possible, without realising the opportunities some people would be able to open up for my business. In my business’ earlier days, I only sought advice and support from family and close friends; this is now something that I consider to be a mistake because after starting my business, I read Duncan Bannatyne’s book ‘43 Mistakes Business Make…and How To Avoid Them’ (a book I strongly recommend by the way!) and he explains how ‘your mum will always think it’s a good idea’…If you’re reading, sorry Mum!
If you are reading this article on Unloc Enterprise Academy website, you are already in a great place to meet other people who know what it’s like working in business and they will also be able to give you support and guidance along the way!
3) Finally, Get Up and Go!
Now is the best time, especially if you are young, to get up and start your business. If you have the drive and determination to get up and go, then don’t let other things get in your way! If you have a passion and a belief in your idea, seek guidance from the numerous amounts of organisations out there as well as a lot of young entrepreneurs who would be more than happy to help!
Thank you very much for reading this article and I hope that it helps you to go a step further in your business if you’ve already started or helps you to move closer to starting your own business.