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Monday, October 25, 2021

‘I turned £1,000 of furlough money into £55,000’: the teenage entrepreneurs born out of lockdown

The days of teenagers earning pocket money by mowing the neighbour’s lawn are quickly becoming a thing of the past thanks to a new wave of young entrepreneurs.

The number of businesses set up by teenagers rose by almost a fifth during the pandemic as young people used lockdown to start their own companies. More than 10,200 teenagers aged between 16 and 19-years-old have registered a business with Companies House since January 2020, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information request by OneFamily, a financial services company. 

Last year 6,796 companies were set up by this age group, compared to 5,729 in 2019, an increase of almost 19pc. The number of businesses with teenagers as company directors was 44pc higher than a decade ago, according to the figures. 

There has been a growing trend of young people launching themselves into business before leaving school, with the constraints of lockdown spurring even more creativity. 

When Alex Jones founded his company Sigma Strength in lockdown last year, he was 17-years old and studying for his A-levels. 

“I wanted to learn a new skill and spotted a huge gap in the market for affordable gym wear which didn’t sacrifice quality,” Mr Jones said. 

“I was getting really into the gym during the pandemic but noticed the big gym brands were not bringing down their prices, despite less people having disposable income during that time. 

“It is just myself running the business, so I have low overheads and I pass that saving on to the customers.”

The teenage entrepreneur used £1,000 of furlough money to launch the brand and has since sold to more than 1,000 customers in 26 countries and gained an impressive 47,000 following on the social media site TikTok. He has turned over around £55,000 since the company’s inception, but has his sights set on a six-figure target in the coming year.

Mr Jones is now 19 and studying business and marketing at university. “I threw myself in the deep end when I first launched Sigma Strength and now I’m keen to apply some more theory to the business,” he added. 

‘Instead of taking a job you create one’ 

The most popular sectors for young entrepreneurs are tech start-ups, design and creative ventures, food and drink and fitness and beauty, according to research by OneFamily. 

Henry Nicholson, of Rebel Business School, a business development firm, said starting a company was a “no-brainer” for many young people, particularly as lockdown had given them more free time to experiment.

“In the worst case scenario you spend some time and energy creating something that doesn’t work, but you’ve learned something new,” he said.

“In the best case scenario you launch a business that becomes a sustainable income. Maybe instead of taking a job you create one.”

Archie Major is aged 14 but already has his career plan mapped out. He hopes his business, Castaway Cottage, which makes cruelty free bath products and home fragrances, will be big enough to run full-time once he leaves school. 

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