He started his business journey aged eleven. Now nineteen, he’s an acclaimed entrepreneur, investor, speaker and mentor. Meet Ben Towers.
Centennials. The latest buzzword in the business world. As businesses gain an understanding of this generation and prepare for their arrival in the workplace, Centennials are often labelled as the new wave of employees. However, growing up in a digital landscape, their ability to use technology comes as naturally to them as breathing, which means, not only do they have the skills to be disruptive employees, but to be innovative employers too.
The perfect example of this is Ben Towers. When he was only thirteen years old, he founded his first digital marketing company, Towers Design. After completing a multi-million-pound merger earlier this year, he left the organisation in September and is now focusing on his role as CEO of Social Marley, a social media management tool. His remarkable achievements have not gone unnoticed; Ben has won multiple awards and has been named by Sir Richard Branson as “one of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs”.
Your Ready Business spoke to Ben about his experience as a young entrepreneur and how, despite his age (or because of it), he has driven himself and his businesses to success.
When did you first start thinking about becoming an entrepreneur? When I was eleven, I built my first website, after watching several YouTube videos. This was the start of my business journey but I didn’t know it was. I got paid a bit of money, I thought it was brilliant so, I kept on doing it. It wasn’t until I was twelve or thirteen that I realised I was actually running a business. It was then I became more entrepreneurial and no longer thought of myself as a newbie making money.
How did you balance your work and school life? During school hours, I would check my emails at lunchtime and, in the evenings, I would get on top of things. Employing freelancers to help with the workload was key to this balance because they were flexible with their working hours; I wasn’t restricted by the 9-5. Also, my clients were primarily small businesses, so they tended to have more involvement in the day-to-day running of their business, and were more likely to take a call at 7pm
What was the role of technology in helping you to stay in contact with your clients and employees? Up until the end of my GCSE’s, I didn’t have an office so, everyone worked from home. Also, I was employing freelancers who were located across the UK. This meant technology was at the core of my business. I think it really helped us as a start-up because it was present from the beginning, meaning we didn’t have to go through a digital transformation when we got office space. Plus, it allowed me to stay connected with my employees and clients and enabled our projects to be managed effectively and efficiently.
With technology constantly advancing, how do you decide what the best technology is to introduce to your business? I make these decisions with my right-hand man, Roger Williams. When we look at new technology, he focuses on the details, whereas I prefer to opt for a trial to find out whether or not it’s right for the business. The reason why I’m able to make quick decisions is because I know, if a certain technology doesn’t work for me, then I have a host of other options to explore.
How have you found working with people from older generations than you? I’ve learnt how to work with a range of generations and appreciate their experience, knowledge and skills. After my GCSE’s, I left education and became an apprentice in my own business so that I could work full-time. That meant I could open an office and have an advisor, Neville, who’s older than me. In a recent conversation with him, he said that when we were working together, he thought I was mentoring him, whereas I thought it was the other way around. He learnt a new way of thinking and gained a new perspective of things.
Would you recommend working with somebody from another generation, who has a different perspective to you? It’s definitely worth doing. The older generation are a great support network and their experience is invaluable. Many entrepreneurs think they know everything when they start their businesses, but those who succeed are the ones who are aware of their lack of knowledge and look to others to fill in the gaps.
What are your three top tips for anybody, of any age, who want to take their passion for something and turn it into success? One, do the things that you enjoy. A lot of people are so set on developing an idea that’s going to make them money that they neglect what makes them happy. Two, just go out and do it. You could spend all your life reading autobiographies about entrepreneurs and telling yourself you’re going to be like them, but never actually achieving it. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in life – be a doer. And, my final piece of advice would be to surround yourself with people who will support, guide and motivate you. You’ll want people in your network who, you not only view as healthy competition but who will be there to pick you up when you’re down.