THE pandemic has caused a surge in young people starting their own ventures in reaction to a dwindling job market. One in ten 16 to 24-year-olds have started their own business since February 2020, according to research by web developer GoDaddy.
Some 75 per cent of those surveyed said that they launched their own company due to a lack of opportunities in the current job market.
This suggests that, based on the UK’s population for that age group, over 630,000 ventures were launched by early entrepreneurs in the last 12 months.
‘Our research shows that young entrepreneurs have managed to make the most out of a difficult situation and have demonstrated the ability to flourish in a challenging economic environment brought on by the global pandemic,’ says Sakshi Anand, senior director, GoDaddy UK and Ireland.
Morgan, aged 17: ‘In lockdown I discovered my creative side’
CREATIVE teen Morgan Rees had been trying to find a part-time job for months when she decided to try a different approach.
‘I kept asking for help and redoing my CV, but I was having no luck at all. Then last September, my mum saw an advert for the BizKidz academy and thought it was a good idea,’ says the 17-year-old.
Morgan joined the scheme, which helped her identify her skills and gave her the idea for gift and card company Floral Crafts by Morgan.
‘In the first lockdown I discovered my artistic side, which I hadn’t previously been in touch with due to being so busy with GCSEs and school. BizKidz helped me come up with the idea for my business.’
Through the academy she received one-to-one mentoring and access to training materials covering branding, finances, customers, online commerce and more. ‘By week seven of the academy in mid-November I had set up and launched my website along with my first two products in time for the Christmas trade. I was quite overwhelmed at the amount of orders I was receiving, it felt surreal.’
Morgan, who is currently studying art, media and business A-levels at college in Portsmouth, has been selling her greetings cards online and via a local shop.
She paints the cards at home, before scanning the design and sending it to a company, which prints it onto luxury cards. She now has seven products including Valentine’s cards and bespoke pet portraits. Since launching five months ago she has sold 300 cards and made more than £460 in sales. Although it has been hard juggling her business with her school work, Morgan says it has enabled her to stop job hunting and be in control of creating her own income.
‘I am now at the point of my business where I am looking to expand and introduce new products. I have found that starting and running my own business has been helpful with my mental health and motivation throughout the past year. I still plan to travel but it will be at a later date and will be a spontaneous trip.’
Felix, aged 17: ‘I realised people would pay for this service and I made £10,000 in six months’
SOCIAL media whizz Felix Harmon stumbled across a lucrative business niche and generated £10,000 revenue in just six months.
In August 2020 the 17-year-old was approached by a contact who asked him to grow and manage their Instagram account.
‘I charged him just £50 a month but I noticed that people were willing to pay for this service and I started reaching out to companies in the luxury car industry.’
Felix launched social media marketing agency Social Thriver with three different plans from £50 to £250 a month. He now has 20 clients on his books including bakeries, hair salons and travel businesses. ‘I had one client in August, then six in September and I’ve been gathering two or three a month since then.
‘We have got great results and we are getting recommended.’
His only outgoings are £20 a month for his website and email hosting and he has spent a few hundred pounds on social media marketing and Google ads.
He manages the business himself from his home in Kent while studying business, photography and graphics A-level.
‘At the minute I am coping but it has taken over a little bit. I work before and after school and in lunch breaks. I may have to look at taking people on but I am going to see where it goes.’
Felix says his success has been down to his competitive pricing structure.
‘I think we have grown because we get great results but we are affordable. Some agencies are charging £2,000-plus a month and we undercut that.’
And once he finishes his A-levels Felix hopes the business will keep him afloat.
‘I am hoping to keep running with this until I find a job especially with Covid, employment levels are not great.’
Ethan, aged 18: ‘I couldn’t find work, so I started an antiques business’
WHEN the pandemic abruptly stopped his travelling plans, Ethan Svirsky funnelled his savings into an antiques business.
The 18-year-old was due to have a gap year before going to the University of St Andrews to study business management in September 2021.
‘I had saved up money for travelling after I finished my A-levels but then lockdown hit. I knew I wouldn’t get an opportunity to get away so I decided to start a business.’
During the first 2020 lockdown Ethan spent time researching antiques and learning as much as he could about the industry. ‘I found it therapeutic and it took my mind off what was happening.’
Following lockdown, he stayed with his aunt, who is an antique dealer, to learn more about the trade. Then in October 2020 after he couldn’t find any work he decided to invest £1,500 of his travel fund to launch Marsh Goodland Antiques.
He paid for a website, plus waxes, polishes and brushes and then started buying stock. He travelled to auctions and started selling items via his website.
‘The first item I sold was a Victoria shaving stand. It was a big moment for me, it felt really rewarding. I drove down to East Sussex and bought it at an auction for £93. I paid to have it waxed and cleaned up and sold it for £230.’
Due to the second lockdown Ethan has been unable to sell goods at antique markets but he has been building contacts with other dealers and selling business to business.
To date he has made £3,500 profit selling items like side tables, chairs and ornaments. He now plans to invest his profit in more stock and keep growing his firm.