Young entrepreneur Ollie Forsyth is already a bit of a serial entrepreneur and he's still in his teens.
His inspiration is Richard Branson and Ollie Forsyth is following in Branson's footsteps by leaving school to start a magazine age 16. Ollie Forsyth shares his story with us below.
Ollie Forsyth, great to have you on YHP today! Can you give me a bit of background to yourself?
I started my first business aged 13, Ollie’s Shop, an online gift shop for teenagers. Having been featured in all kinds of magazines and newspapers I thought it was about time I started my own entrepreneurs magazine for up and coming startups as well as making that first mini breakthrough for inspiring entrepreneurs by us writing about them. The Budding Entrepreneur magazine launched the magazine last November, I already have 3,000 readers roughly per month, which is not amazing, but it’s not bad. Having started the magazine and got it going, I also created a business directory for the magazine, My Enterprise Directory where small firms that are useful for entrepreneurs can advertise their business as little as £30.00 per year.
Tell me more about your startup, The Budding Entrepreneur:
The Budding Entrepreneur magazine is a business hub where entrepreneurs can seek advice on how to start their business but most importantly we give them inspiring stories to read to make them passionate about their product or service. In today's world, it’s absolutely vital there are business hubs out there such as, The Budding Entrepreneur Magazine and IncuBus Ventures.
Without hubs like these, it’s very hard to encourage entrepreneurship but one of the things that is not being done is, schools and teachers don't teach entrepreneurship to students, they may teach the general niff naff on how to start a business but they don't teach how to raise £250,000 for your business, where to go if you get sued, these are the most important features in business but schools don’t teach this!
What was the inspiration behind it?
Having been featured quite heavily in the media, I noticed not many of those magazines offered that key business support. Don't get me wrong, a lot of my articles were in business magazines which is great, but not many just gave that inspiration to people looking to start a business. I interview people who give me inspiration and who I think will give inspiration. Like I mentioned above, it’s so important in today's society to give inspiration to students, current and future employees, to succeed. If you don't inspire them to do greater things, they will not succeed, but, if you inspire them they can be successful.
How have you funded your business so far?
I used my own capital but having built up all kinds of contacts, a lot of people were willing to support me. I call this a swap service, I got free marketing in the press, I got free business cards, it all helps but at the end of the day. If someone thinks you are going somewhere, they want to be part of your journey. A lot of entrepreneurs are looking at the crowd funding option which will really take off in the next couple of years.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
Media is tough, getting the magazine out there to the world was the hardest but I was lucky to have some good celebrity support and it just takes a few famous retweets, a few shares, a few plugs here and there and suddenly you are getting a couple of hundred hits a day, then you move into the thousands…
I think getting the magazine out there is nearly complete but you have to set very realistic goals. How am I going to reach 50,000 people per month, then 250,000 then a million users a month? But you also have to say to yourself, how many readers a month is good for me? Well enough is never enough, you have to put 150% into your work ethic, you have to be strict with yourself and if you work hard, hard work will pay off.
Being an entrepreneur is full of ups and downs; what gets you through those downs?
Every business out there has downs but you just have to see a beacon at the end of the tunnel and you know you will overcome it one day. Of course all businesses have different negatives in their business but I look to see how people have done it before then I see how I can link that to my business and how I can do it differently. Being heavily dyslexic myself, the downs in my business don't affect me, I stay calm and I just take a few hours to think how I can solve the puzzle. Thinking outside the box as they say.
What have been your biggest achievements since you launched your business?
Being approached by the biggest newspapers in the world, being approached by schools to go and talk to inspire students to start a business, being asked to appear on an American chat show, all these little features help but I think you have to say to yourself, when do I stop and when is it enough and when have I succeeded.
Entrepreneurs are always hungry for success. The biggest achievements have got to be either being approached by big investors who have read about me. You would go to a business show and people are looking at you and you would get the occasion where someone would come up to you and say, are you the guy from… It’s a good feeling. If that is happening, you are obviously doing something right.
How do you differentiate from the competition?
Well without being arrogant, I don’t know many entrepreneurs who have started a magazine aged 16 apart from Richard Branson. People are more likely to read your magazine that was started by a teenager compared to a magazine started by a forty year old.
What advice would you give any entrepreneurs just starting out?
Go out there and be passionate. School was not for me, I left school aged 16 with no qualifications.
Choose your career path very carefully, if you want to start a business, don’t go to university and study history, the best thing you can do is get experience in a company. If you get employed aged 18/19, by the time you are 21, you could be earning, £10k a year, £50k a year and your mates who went to university are coming out with a £30k debt and you are earning more than them.
If you are not sure what you want to do, go and work in a company you have interest in and see what you think. If it’s not for you, move on.
Some great insight from Ollie Forsyth. Do check out his magazine for some more incredible entrepreneurial stories.