The world of business always fascinated me. The way businesses must keep seeking methods to chip away at costs like an F1 lap time where the smallest reduction can make the biggest difference. Efficiency and well thought out plans, the various techniques that can decide whether a business becomes an iconic giant, or a miserable failure and a case study of what not to do. So, in 2014, this lead to me find my current business partner, Hayden Taylor of Unlock Learning Ltd (Question Me UK Ltd at the time). He had been working in conjunction with a scheme titled ‘Active Enterprise’, in which students were able to pitch their business ideas to a panel with a grant of up to £1,000 up for grabs. I decided it was for me, I wanted to try my hand at the business for real. Full of enthusiasm, I worked closely with Hayden for months, fine-tuning a business plan for my first business, ‘Unrivalled Clothing’.
I spent countless late nights designing t-shirts when I should have been sleeping, hours creating a website and branding, not being able to sleep for thinking of the endless possibilities for my brand new venture, until eventually, the day came for me to pitch business plan to a panel of judges, aged 16, with no business experience. I couldn’t do it. The other 3 or 4 students in the scheme flew through with apparent ease but I didn’t have enough confidence in myself or my idea to ask for £1,000 from the strangers in the next room. I felt extremely frustrated and angry at myself like I’d let everyone down.
However, I don’t regret a thing. The process of designing and fine-tuning a business captivated me and it was then that I knew I what I wanted to do with my life. It’s taught me to never let any opportunity pass by no matter what it is if there is even the slightest gain to be made from it, do it. I’ve forced myself to develop my confidence and to always try work outside of my comfort zone, for example by recently giving talks at my old college every day for a week. I realised that to run my own business is the only thing I’ll ever want to do and that, to me, was invaluable.
Carl Hewitt studies BSc Business Entrepreneurship at Southampton Business school. The views in this article are those of the author. This article is part of our ‘How I Learn’ series.