Once upon a time, our high streets were made up of lots of little businesses, boutiques and eateries making them vibrant and busy places to be. Today our high streets are made up of the odd surviving business or two, sandwiched between a boarded up building and a supermarket chain. A very sad sight indeed.
When I was asked if I would like to attend the RockStar Youth seminar in Warley a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to see what the company was all about and was looking forward to seeing hungry young entrepreneurs who had an idea that they wanted to make a reality. Now I am not saying these young, enthusiastic people are going to go back out there and open up more butchers or bakers but these people are the ones who - if successful - will make new jobs and opportunities for the generation after them. These are the ones who want to see individual businesses thriving once again not huge corporate companies.
In the run up to this event, I did write a post about who RockStar youth were and included a quick chat with the Jonathan Pfahl who set it all up (you can read that here.) At the event, I got to meet Jonathan himself and hear him talk passionately about what it is like to run your own business, from both his experience and other people's. It isn't easy; you have to put a lot of time, effort and money in and sometimes it will make you feel as though you want to give up, it will make you stressed, it will make you have sleepless nights and it will probably make you cry but in life, the things worth having are never easy to get, they take time, money and lots of hard work. If you have a great idea though and a great business plan, there isn't any reason why it shouldn't work. That's where RockStar Youth step in. The incubators are designed to help you interpret what you want to achieve, you are then assigned to a mentor who will help you plan your ideas and - if you are successful - they offer start up loans of up to £10,000.
Jonathan was very friendly, funny and informative in his talk which made what he said even more inspiring. He was down to earth and honest, there were no 'buzz words' or 'corporate talk' just his advice, thoughts and experience. I like that he named the company 'RockStar' because of always wanting to be one and by calling the company - and in turn the mentors - 'RockStar' he made his dream of being one a reality!
After Jonathan's introduction, guest speaker Lauren Goodger and her business partner Nev gave a talk about their beauty business 'Laurens Way' and how they started it up. They too gave an honest account of what it is like to set up and run a busy business. Lauren admitted that she knew being on reality TV Series 'The Only Way is Essex' gave her a boost because she was a household name but similarly both she and Nev knew it took hard work, time and the best products to make the business a continued success long into the future after TOWIE. They spent a lot of time going through business plans, testing products, promoting their business through social media, carefully interviewing and selecting the right staff. It takes time. In this modern world of technology, people starting up a business have the advantage of being able to sit behind a computer screen at home to do a lot of their promotion rather than twenty years ago where you would have to be 'out there', on the streets. Social networking sites of all shapes and sizes are brilliant for promoting your work as well as using bloggers to review your products and write about them for their followers.
|INTERVIEW: Lauren Goodger with Rockstar Youth's Jonathan Pfahl.|
After their talk and Q and A, I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with both of them one to one to find out a bit more about 'Laurens Way' and what it is like to start up and run a successful business. Both Lauren and Nev were lovely, chatty and happy to give as much advice as possible for anyone out there who is wanting or looking to start up their own business.
She admitted she was nervous doing the incubator initially but once she got up there and started talking about it she felt a lot more comfortable and that it was nice to be able to give something to those who were in the same position she was a couple of years ago. It was an enthusiastic crowd of people who interacted and asked lots of questions too which made it all the more worthwhile.
''It was really good, really good fun.'' she said. ''I had my business partner so he was a great help, he's like the backbone of it all so it was fun.'' Her key piece of advice was to make sure you believe in the product you want to sell and that it is something that YOU like. ''I was approached by different tanning companies asking if I wanted to be the face of it but I wouldn't wear it so the answer was no, why would I promote something I wouldn't wear?' Everything 'Laurens Way' sells has been tried, tested and approved by Lauren and Nev and are all products Lauren herself wears. 'I wear the tan myself, I went to the factory and tested it and picked the shades that I liked and that I would wear.'' This bodes well because not only can Lauren give an honest review of the products when asked, but because she does have many loyal followers both on Twitter and Instagram, she can use those sites to promote the products and share snaps of her wearing them.
Both Lauren and Nev have worked hard to make the business go from strength to strength. They now have lashes, hair buns and many more beauty products available online as well as the tanning range and now also offer the 'Essex Angels' service where professionals will come and do your hair and make up for occasions such as hen nights, proms or even just a night out.
When I asked Lauren where she hoped her business would be in five years she said she wanted to expand further. ''Hopefully I would love to get the products in bigger stores such as Harrods or Selfridges and in more salons, I want it to be bigger and to be everywhere.'' If the success the business has had so far is anything to go by, I don't see why that couldn't happen.
|CHAT: Meeting and chatting with Lauren Goodger.|
|CHAT: Meeting and chatting with Nev.|