International Finance
January-February 2019 Magazine Opinion

An early headstart to entrepreneurship

An early headstart to entrepreneurship
This successful entrepreneur puts a spin on the benefits of starting out early as an entrepreneur and why this has a lasting impact on an entrepreneur’s growth trajectory

Many of the entrepreneurs I admire and respect are in their 40, 50s and 60s – but while they are all very different, the one thread that binds them together is they are all natural born entrepreneurs and started their first business in their 20s… or earlier!
Take entrepreneur and investor, Jamie Waller, for example – he is 39 years old and worth around £40m. Like so many entrepreneurs, Jamie launched his first business (a window cleaning firm) when he was a teenager and started his most successful company in his early 20s.
If Jamie hadn’t followed his early drive and ambition – or hadn’t launched a business until he was in his thirties – I wonder if he would have had the same success or how long it would have taken him?
That is not to say there aren’t hugely successful business leaders who have launched companies later in life. My point is, that I suspect it’s just not as easy for a couple of important reasons:
I launched when I was 22. I may not have had experience or wisdom on my side… but I had time and lots of it!
Not having a wife or kids means I am 100% free to focus on work and the business is my baby. Yes, my personal relationships may have suffered along the way but I’m still young and I’ve got all that to come. For now, I want to focus on making my own little dent in the world.
A typical day would kick off for me at 5.30am with a quick walk of the dog and then by 6.30am I’d start cracking on – and work through until about 8pm. Typically I’d work like this for six to seven days a week, every week…. and I still do.
Will I be able to do this in my 30s? I guess it’s a lifestyle choice, but I’d like to think if I do meet someone and have children I’d have a better work/life balance. Right now, there are no major distractions and I can put everything into the business and not feel guilty about it.
Energy and commitment
As a young entrepreneur, I have a different kind of energy and maybe this goes back to being committed. Let’s face it I’m not yet experiencing sleepless nights with a newborn or having to share the school-run with my wife, which certainly helps me stay energised and focused.
Like most entrepreneurs, I have a never-ending willingness to do and learn, and seeing what I’ve built already just makes me more motivated.
Inevitably, the older I get, the less energy I will have, so while I’m chomping at the bit to grind as hard as I can, I’m going to embrace it!
Risk taking
When I launched my company, I didn’t need to worry too much about overheads…. especially my own. I was lucky enough to stay rent free at my Mum’s. The support from my family meant I could save money and also take a few risks, which I’ve learnt is important if you want to grow your business.
While I don’t want to understate the importance of experience – sometimes the naivety of youth can also be a strength. For example, older entrepreneurs may have experienced many ups and downs in life which will make them more risk-averse. Whereas I am happy to take chances that I calculate will drive things forward.
I personally think it’s a big advantage. The larger the risk the larger the potential return and that really excites me! It’s a big part of the reason I’ve managed to grow this company so quickly. At the time of writing We Buy Cars Today is the UK’s third most used online car buying company. We simply wouldn’t have got this far if we hadn’t made a few gambles along the way.
All of the above said, I do recognise that I still have a huge amount to learn and I hope I don’t look back on this article in ten years’ time and think “what a plonker!”. As a young entrepreneur building his first empire, I am learning as I go and that means having no preconceived ideas of how I should and shouldn’t run my business. I’ve got plenty of common sense which stops me from making blatantly bad business decisions but really, I’m free to run things as I see fit.
The company is about to turnover £9m this year so I can help thinking, this young entrepreneur is on the road to success!

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