Andy Evans, 21, is founder and CEO of Your Deal Daily. Here, he talks to inspiresme.co.uk about what drives young entrepreneurs.
Q: When does an idea become a business?
A: The ideas normally come from my own experiences; whether I see something and feel that it’s a concept that could be improved, something that I could apply to another industry or from an experience that left me frustrated.
Once I have an idea I will leave it to play on my mind for a few days and if I can still remember that idea and am as excited about it as I was at the beginning then I know it’s worth further investigation. I’ll then research the idea, investigate the competition and the demand in the market. If there is no place for it then it can be quite disheartening at times but then if that’s the case I know it’s time to forget about it and move on to the next thing; I’m always on the lookout for anything that inspires me. However, if there is space for the concept to grow I will speak to other people about it and find out if they feel as excited about it as me. It’s so important to get advice from other people even as you’ll be surprised how people working in other industries and with other experiences can come up with valuable suggestions and points. If the response is positive then I know that the idea is a business opportunity.
Q: What kind of person becomes a textbook entrepreneur?
A: Becoming an entrepreneur is not something limited to the wealthy or the well educated. A good entrepreneur is an ideas person who takes those ideas and actually does something with them; someone who gets excited about the prospect of their ideas becoming a reality and has the drive to make them reality. An entrepreneur requires dedication, a willingness to take risks and a certain level of self-motivation.
Q: What would you advise someone if they wanted to become an entrepreneur?
A: Don’t go into your venture with the sole motivation of financial gain. Instead, base your venture on a genuine passion and interest for a subject or industry. Expect some failures - everyone has to make mistakes before they get their big break - at least that’s what I like to think!
Stick to what you know. I’ve started a number of businesses and perhaps on occasions have spread myself thin, but they all had something in common: the internet. From my first eBay shop right through to ‘Flavr’, ‘Memes Media’ and now ‘Your Deal Daily’, my business ventures have all revolved around the internet as this is what I’m passionate about.
Q: Will a true entrepreneur only be happy when he or she is working for himself?
A: I’m sure it’s not the case for all but I certainly am happier working for myself. I’ve never had a ‘proper’ job. One of my main motivations is being able to work the hours I want, where I want, how I want, and to maintain a varied workday. Working for someone else means that these perks often have to be compromised or nonexistent.
Q: You’ve started several businesses in your career. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
A: It’s funny because it always seems to be more or less the same challenges for every business that I’ve started up. For example, finding the right people – you can’t be good at everything so no matter the business it is important to get the right people on board with you. I prefer to look for people with different talents and expertise as a team of ‘jacks of all trades’ isn’t going to get you anywhere. Finding the right people who complement each others’ ways of working and the business itself is a huge challenge and sometimes the search for the right individuals delays everything else.
Also, financial services can be a challenge. Dealing with banks and financial institutions, such as PayPal, has always been a pet hate of mine. If you’re going to have hoops to jump through it always seems to be these guys holding them up. Since the ‘financial crisis’ this has become even harder as financiers tighten their policies and become reluctant to help those new businesses that require something a little out of the ordinary.
Definitely starting a business with the wrong person has to be one of the worst experiences of my career to date... Q: What’s the biggest mistake you made in starting a business?
A: Definitely starting a business with the wrong person has to be one of the worst experiences of my career to date. Partnerships are the hardest thing to get right and on one occasion it made life miserable as I had to see the business that I’d spent weeks building and on its way to becoming incredibly successful get taken from me as the other business partner jilted me out - and the legal action and everything involved was very stressful and disheartening. I just had to think of it as a lesson learnt and move on.
Q: What the single most important thing you can do to be successful in business?
A: Learn fast - no book, website or business plan can ever tell you what’s going to happen or explain every situation that arises. You need to be able to interpret these things as and when they come up, make a fast decision and move on, always making sure you remember the lessons you learnt from previous mistakes so you don’t make the same ones again in your future endeavours.
Q: You come from a long line of business owners. How important is this sort of pedigree?
A: Growing up watching my parents and grandparents busy running their businesses certainly gave me the desire to be part of it all. Having a family of self-employed entrepreneurs solidified my ambition to be one as well: being involved, having a go and taking an interest gave me a great sense of encouragement and was a great way to really learn from my parents.
Q: You were an established entrepreneur at the age of 21. Growing up, did you envision yourself taking on such senior roles at such an early age?
A: Yes and no: whilst I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur and run my own business I knew that it would mean an incredible amount of responsibility that would affect every other aspect of my life. It’s taken away experiences which peers my age enjoy, the parties, the travelling and what not, but my business ventures have shaped my personality so I have no regrets. Perhaps later in life once these ventures have become more established I might be able to reduce the amount of work I do and lead a more leisurely lifestyle.
Q: You cite Apple’s Steve Jobs as one of your inspirations. Why is Jobs such a role model?
A: Steve Jobs has made Apple one of the most famous, recognisable and desirable brands in the world and revolutionised many industries, especially in creative fields, all at the same time. He is the perfect example of a CEO continuing innovation and growth and as a result has become a role model to so many people.
Q: Entrepreneurship - skill, luck, or a bit of both?
A: We probably call it skill when everything is going well, but bad luck when it’s not. ‘Skilled-Luck’ would be a more accurate description. The skill comes when defining the business, making the decisions and producing your product or service. The luck takes control of the markets, the economy, your timing and competitors.
Q: If you were advising a company with a fantastic product but no marketing skills, what would tell them?
A: Find someone, or another business to partner with, don’t be too greedy: both elements are as important as each other. Perhaps give Flavr or Memes Media a call and we’ll sort you out!
Q: What are your thoughts on home/work life balance?
A: Initially it doesn’t exist; your work becomes your life for the most part. And this is something you need to be prepared to live with. As an entrepreneur one of my motivations is the success that will inevitably then lead to a more dream-like lifestyle where you are able to dictate your work/life balance. At the moment I get my excitement from the setting up of a business and the challenges that come with that. Once they are ready to walk on their own two feet I get bored and need a new side project to get working on.
Q: Did you consult with people before deciding to start the business? If so, who? What were their backgrounds?
A: I always consult my parents. I probably care a little too much about what they think of the business ventures I propose. Other than that I simply look for people who I think will provide me with a good foundation when running the business whose expertise I can call on or employ.
Q: Was there a “blueprint” or path of starting a business that you more or less followed? How did you know how to start?
A: I don’t think there is a blueprint as such; there are obviously existing business models which work better than others which is something that is investigated at the very beginning. The easiest way to start is by reverse engineering something that already exists, but put it back together better and stronger than it was originally.