If you had told me at the age of 15, when I was given a video camera for my birthday to film my friends rapping, that my passion for music would result in a successful business, then I wouldn't have believed you. Through hard work, great advice and a passion and vision that I stayed true to, SBTV has resulted in me meeting some of the biggest stars from different walks of life in the world and being made an MBE for my services to music.
As a successful young entrepreneur, I am always keen to share my experiences with young budding entrepreneurs, looking to start a business of their own. I recently spent a day on a Virgin Trains East Coast service from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley, where I held a business clinic for individuals trying to make their business idea a success. I hope, that the advice I gave on that journey, a lot of which you can find below will help other entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
First and foremost you need to be passionate; passionate about your business idea, passionate about the industry as a whole and passionate about succeeding. This success should go deeper than making loads of money in a short space of time. It should be about the longer term plan, making a difference in the industry you love. From there, you will then begin to see success, growth and hopefully profit.
Unfortunately, profit is unlikely to come overnight and therefore holding down a 'real job' is key, to earn the money you will need to get your business idea off the ground. I spent four years working at Topman and whilst retail wasn't what I saw myself doing in the long term, those four years gave me the drive to make SBTV the success that it is today. I guess what I'm saying is, at the beginning you may need to do something you don't necessarily want to do to make you realise how passionate you are about making your business succeed.
People always ask me where to start off when setting up a business. I'm afraid to say, starting out with the 'boring stuff (well I find it boring), is probably the best policy. You need to make sure you have your head wrapped around the financial and legal side of running a business. Understanding areas such as tax, VAT, copyrighting and trademarking will give you the solid foundations to build a business. From there, you can then start to build your brand identity - your logo, brand name and your own personal USP, which will set you apart from the rest.
I would also say that starting up a business is a daunting task and something that you shouldn't take on solely on your own. Don't be afraid to ask those closest to you, your family and friends, for example, for support.
A question that I get asked a lot is, once a business is ready to launch, where to launch it. For me, social media and word of mouth played a huge role in SBTV growing at the rate it did. One factor that accelerated this was my presence on Twitter. From the moment I had a business idea in mind I knew I needed to establish a following, to act as a platform when eventually launching my business. I began commenting on trends and points of interest on Twitter, such as X Factor or the MTV Awards. People love an opinion and gradually I began to grow my following. This meant that when I eventually announced by business via social, I already had a relatively large platform to introduce it too. I would recommend doing something like this from the off.
Finally, a point which is overlooked but I have found instrumental in my success is making sure to reply to every email, this is something I'm still working hard at too, everyone's not perfect. Whilst nothing is worse than waking up to an overflowing inbox, replying to every email allows you to keep conversations open. You never know, you may need to pull a favour later on with someone who may not be of interest in the short term. Of course this is easier said than done, especially when on the move, however a tip that I find useful is using train journeys as a time to get through emails.
Jamal Edwards provided advice and coaching on topics including starting a business and growing your brand as part of Virgin Trains' on board Business Clinic, which took place on a journey from King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley