Hi Ollie, thanks for talking with us today. Please can you tell everyone a bit about yourself?
Pleasure. My name is Ollie Forsyth. I’m a seventeen year old dyslexic entrepreneur. I started my entrepreneurial career aged around 5 or 6 and used to make my parents tea and coffee in the morning and charge 20p a mug. Then at school, I started my own tuck shop.
I remember it said on the coke can ‘do not sell separately’ so I bunged 2 together and sold them as a pair. Quite clever I thought! I started my first proper business aged 13, Ollie’s Shop, an online gift shop for teenagers. At aged 16 I left school without any qualifications and last year, I started my own magazine, The Budding Entrepreneur, with a growing business directory, My Enterprise Directory.
We see that you’ve launched your own entrepreneur’s magazine, The Budding Entrepreneur. How’s it been going so far?
Totally unexpected, it’s really taken off. I have interviewed some amazing people so far, including the founder of Links of London. I wanted to provide a business hub that offers content for startups that’s straightforward to read. This is a problem that my magazine also aims to overcome.
How have you managed to fund this?
Due to Ollie’s Shop having a healthy turnover, I had secured funds. I have been offered equity and investment, but will take my time leading into the process in the near future.
You set up ‘Ollie’s Shop’ at aged 13, what was the motivation behind starting this business?
School really. School isn’t for everyone. If you’re hugely academic, cool, go to university and be a lawyer or a banker. If you’re not academic, get out as fast as you can and get some experience in an industry you want to go into. Ollie’s Shop was started because I am heavily dyslexic (I couldn’t read until I was 15) but having started a business at a young age I established a good track record. I sleep very little, but if you put 100% into your brand, you could become very successful.
You’re currently attending The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy. What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned so far?
I have learnt a lot, what business colleges and courses really need to do is teach the more in depth stuff, such as, how to crowdfund £250,000, where to go if you get sued, how to write to the national press etc. Not many business courses take this kind of stuff on and this, in my opinion, is the more important stuff.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
Meeting people. Since starting, I have had a lot of support from entrepreneurs and some well know entrepreneurs and celebrities too. So far, I’ve met William Fox – Pitt, Dame Kelly Holmes, Cath Kidston, India Hicks and a few more established entrepreneurs, which is really inspiring to me.
We’ve seen that you’ve got a real passion for classic cars. Would you like to tell us a bit about this?
Sure, I bought my first car, a Triumph GT6 Mk1, at a very early age with my brother and father for £3,000 around 7 or 8 years ago. I now own the car completely and it’s worth a fair bit. I have always loved cars!
If you could change one business decision you’ve made, what would it be?
Difficult, one I should have probably started the magazine a little earlier as I would have gotten a bigger audience, but having said that, I’m happy with where it is at the moment.
What motivates you the most?
Meeting new people and helping others start their business.
Any other ideas in the pipeline?
Lots, including an affordable digital marketing agency this September for young startups. I couldn’t possibly tell you the others…
What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs looking to set up their first business?
Get your idea on paper, show some friends, and see what they say. If they think it’s good, test the market, put some cash into the brand and see what happens. Don’t be afraid to fail as you can learn from it.