A recent report by LinkedIn has found that the number of start-ups and SMEs in the UK has risen by 6.4 per cent in the past year, a large percentage of which is made up of young entrepreneurs. Whilst the young have ideas and energy on their side, some find that when pitching to investors a lack of gravitas and maturity can present initial setbacks.
As keen advocates of our aspiring members, we launched the TOG (The Office Group) 100 competition to support the growth of young entrepreneurs, offering 12 months’ free co-working space for 100 start-ups, run by young entrepreneurs, over the course of the next three years.
Having had to rapidly pick up on the dos and don’ts of board room etiquette, this year’s TOG 100 winners, which includes a mix of tech, marketing and creative start-ups, reveal their top tips for young entrepreneurs:
Ibiere Banigo, Founder and CEO of Zoo Town
People buy people - show your personality
“I used to ask myself whether people with real businesses and real experiences would take someone like me seriously. I’m still studying, I don't use big, sophisticated, techy words, and I only have an idea. But I am extremely passionate about Zoo Town; I know the ins and out of my market and am extremely driven and determined to make things happen.
“While setting up my business, I realised that people buy people. Yes, the business idea is important, but, primarily, people are investing in you. I think that's what people bought into - they bought into me.
“Confidence is key - shut out any negative voices and never doubt yourself, but remain humble and open to hearing what others have to say.”
Solveiga Pakštaitė, Founder and CEO of mimica
Bring experience onto the team
"It hasn't been easy cracking into the food retail industry, as it's such a legacy sector with many traditional ways of working. However, by demonstrating an understanding of the sector and how its challenges can be solved through fresh thinking, as well as showing an eagerness to learn, we have proven that we are serious about building a fast-growth company.
“I have also found that bringing people onto the team who have a great deal of experience and contacts in the field has helped us build our reputation - I like to call that “adult supervision”!"
Adele de Fontbrune, Co-founder at The Wedding Arrangers
Let the product do the talking
"Let your company and work make the noise for you. Focus your energy on building a product that brings value to others, and on creating and maintaining a cohesive team."
Benni Allan, Director at estudio b
Prove you can deliver and show your passion
“I have found the best way to convince clients that you can deliver is by showing work that is physical, whether this be a finished product, a prototype, or even a series of well-documented photographs that can be handled and reviewed. A series of small projects you have undertaken, that are fully realised, can amount to a body of work that speaks of your potential.
“Most important is to show you have passion for both your own work and a client’s project.
“Time is money, therefore showing you can manage your time efficiently to get the project done is essential.”
James Worthington, Co-founder at Valsys Ltd
Do your homework
"Even the largest corporations have senior people who recognise that the most disruptive innovation often comes from young entrepreneurs. If you're talking to someone who clearly doesn't take you seriously, you're speaking to the wrong person. However, once you get in front of an open-minded senior professional, the most important thing is to know the space you're intending to operate in, because they certainly will. Don't waste their time. Be yourself, because that's what they're expecting. But also, do your homework."