Running your own business is hard enough during the best of times, but being able to plough through, and in fact, see an increase in profit during a pandemic, is quite remarkable. That’s the level of success that full-time Business Studies student, Samuel Stewart has attained through his online urban clothing business. We caught up with him to find out the secret of his success.
What drove you to start your own business while still in full-time education?
“I never intended it to blow up like it has. I wanted to have a secondary source of income while mainly focusing on studies. An online business can be done anywhere and I could choose the hours I work, so it’s perfect for a student.
During April, despite coronavirus, you made £30,000. Considering people are primarily buying essential items at the moment, why do you think your business has been a success?
“In my online shop, I resell clothes and have my own designs and custom-made pieces. I operate an on-demand system where items are purchased upon receiving an order. I think it really took off recently due to there being fewer alternatives for buying clothes during the lockdown. People like me have capitalised on this.”
What are some of the challenges of operating during coronavirus?
“The pandemic is massively affecting the global shipping network due to flights being canceled.”
How has your course prepared you for starting your own business?
“Many aspects have helped, particularly the focus on marketing and finance. I’ve found the learning experience at LJMU is really interactive. With knowledge being assessed in a way that is less about what you remember on the day. My modules have included many presentations that allow you to prepare work in teams and build public speaking – all skills that help with employability.”
If people are considering starting their own business, what qualities should they possess in order to be successful?
“I believe that the most important is work ethic and willingness to succeed. I’ve always been very competitive even in menial tasks, if I’m washing plates I want to wash them better and wash more than you. It’s about willpower, anyone could do what I do. Everything I’ve learned is out there to learn but not everyone is prepared to make sacrifices, like staying up late to put the hours in. Not everyone is prepared to miss social events to build their future. I put in 100-hour weeks so I don’t have to work 40-hour weeks for someone else and now I don’t need to be awake to make money. So I would say: work ethic, persistence, self-sacrifice. Don’t allow yourself to be conditioned. Just because most people don’t set up a business at 18 doesn’t mean you can’t. Major cliché, but only by taking control of your destiny and being prepared for it to fail are you going succeed running your own business. Just try and even if you fail, it’s good experience for your CV and interviews.”
Obviously you’ve been busy during this lockdown period, but do you have any tips for those who perhaps don’t have as much to focus on during this time?
“My best advice and it’s quite a common one is: find something that you’re passionate about. There is going to be a way to make an income by offering a service online. If you’re an art student, for example, there is nothing stopping you from offering a design service on sites like fiverr. You don’t have to pay for marketing, you can set up a free social media account and have your mates share it. Everyone has a lot of spare time being at home, using that time productively even if it’s just focusing on a hobby can snowball into building a future for yourself. You may not end up a director of a limited company, but trying and having some experience to reference can be crucial for future success in whatever you do.”
If you’re inspired by Samuel’s start-up story, find out how LJMU can help you either through our Centre for Entrepreneurship or our Careers Services. Interested in studying business? Take a look at the courses on offer.