In the Spring issue of the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine, we caught up with a member of our judging panel, the brilliant Ben Towers, to find out a bit more about his background as one of the UK’s brightest young entrepreneurs.
When Ben Towers was 11, a family member challenged him to design a website. It was the start of Towers Design, a full-service marketing company that employed 22 people and counted names such as Twitter and Wolters Kluwer among its clients.
In April 2017, Ben oversaw a multi-million-pound merger of Towers Design with Zest The Agency. He now works as a marketing consultant for some of the UK’s leading brands and delivers keynotes at conferences around the world.
We caught up with the Gillingham-born businessman who Richard Branson has labelled “one of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs”.
Did you ever think that what you started age 11 could turn into a feasible business? When did you realise you could turn it into a real business?
When I started my business, I was purely doing it for fun and some extra pocket money; I never saw it as a business until aged 13 when my grandad opened my eyes to what I was doing and the potential I had.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
I never really thought about being an entrepreneur when I was growing up; I was debating between becoming a politician or something in IT for quite some time.
Was it difficult to balance studies and freelancing, and did you receive support on your journey?
It was very difficult! Having people working for me trying to contact me whilst I was working or in exams was not easy. My school couldn’t provide me with any business support but they did allow me days off to go to meetings and conferences which was amazing! Of course, not everyone was not supportive but I made it my mission to surround myself with the right people.
Do you have anyone who inspires you on your business journey?
I have always been inspired by my grandad, his lifestyle as an entrepreneur and being your own boss. I admire the business acumen of entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Elon Musk.
You’ve been described as ‘one of the most influential entrepreneurs on the planet’. To what extent do you feel you’re a role model for aspiring young entrepreneurs, and is it a role that you enjoy?
For me it is super important to give back and help other young entrepreneurs. I would never have got to where I am today without the support of my team and mentors and so I see the value in passing this on to other young people.
What advice would you give to teenagers who might want to go into business?
Just do it! You can spend ages planning things out; just give it a go. Start young – what you lack is experience, but you also don’t have all of the financial and responsibility pressures you will face when you are older. Also, don’t try and go for investment from day one – find ways to prove your concept works first.
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far, and how did you overcome it?
I would say it has been trying to get people to respect me as a young business owner, but over time as I started to have a stronger portfolio of clients I was able to prove myself a lot more and gain the respect which allowed us to generate more sales.
To what extent is young age a barrier or enabler to business?
I think that things are getting much easier for young people to start a business. I was fortunate enough to become the first ever under-18 in the UK to get a business bank account. I hope help like this will be available to more young people.
What does the rest of 2019 hold for you? You mentioned a TV show on Twitter?!
I am doing some exciting TV and radio work, speaking at conferences and also launching a new app to help attack issues like obesity and diabetes. Helping people to make healthier life choices and using peer to peer health support and plans.
You can take a look at a full, digital version of the spring issue of the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine here.