Never miss an episode
Subscribe to the Sound Advice podcast
Subscribe by email and get the Sound Advice podcast delivered to your inbox every two weeks with a ton of related articles, templates and problem solving guides for small businesses so you can put our Sound Advice podcast into practice.
When it comes to business, every entrepreneur makes mistakes; it’s an inevitable part of the job.
But your mistakes don’t have to define you or your career.
Jack Parsons admirably shares his mistakes both past and present and how he has learned to grow from each and every one.
We dive into how failed business ventures have led him to creating a £10m business called The Youth Group—where the odd mistake does still admittedly happen.
With a CEO who has learned to fall in love with the problem, not the solution, this episode will get you ready for your next business brainstorm.
Here’s what we cover:
- Navigating the intimidating world of work as a young individual
- Rejection and failure can lead you to booming business ideas
- Raising $1m at 22 years old—but not being able to write an invoice
- Issues with investors causing chaos
- Learnings taken from one failed business to make the next one thrive
- Using a subscription model to create a steady flow of revenue
- Making £10m in as little as three years
- Balancing being an entrepreneur while getting a cancer diagnosis
- Why did young people go to The Youth Group for help during the pandemic?
- Facebook and Pinterest are the hidden treasures to building your micro communities
- Future ambitions for The Youth Group
- Employers need to take action on what their employees care about
- The Youth Group itself is run by young people
- Making a multi-million-pound business deal on a handshake—never again
- Not all advice is good advice
Navigating the intimidating world of work as a young individual
You’ve got such an interesting backstory that I kind of want to start right at the beginning.
So, can you wind back the clock?
You’re a teenager. You’ve just finished a few GCSEs, and you’re not sure what you want to do with your life.
Tell me what then started you on your entrepreneurial journey.
So, I had just left school, I was completely clueless about the world of work, about entrepreneurship, about knowing what it all means.
Because, Bex, I was never exposed to any aspect of the business world really.
My dad was a London black cab driver, and he has always said to me, “Jack, it’s all about hard graft, giving it a go, working hard. You don’t know everything. Don’t try and be the clever one.”
So, I got myself an apprenticeship. It was a sales apprenticeship, and that is where I believe it all started in terms of entrepreneurship because I learned how to sell.
Then I moved into recruitment, and I learned recruitment and how to put people into jobs and how to speak to people.
And you really get to understand people’s lives and what makes them tick and working in a private business.
So I started to learn the fundamentals on what it means to run a business, the cost, but also what I call MI6.
So, I learned MI6 and MI5,
MI6 being out on the field, how to sell, and then MI5 being the internal intelligence, how to keep your cash flow going, your run rates, and how to build a business.
Did you get an apprenticeship straight away?
Because I thought you had a bit of a hairy few moments where you were out of education, struggling to find a job, and actually found it quite difficult out there as a young person.
I just made that sound so easy, didn’t I?
It was absolutely so difficult. I applied for about 1,000 opportunities and got a rejection from every single one.
Seriously, I must have applied for a managing director role without any experience because you don’t know what you don’t know.
So, I applied for everything, and you know what? It got to me.
I wanted to work, and no one would give me the opportunity, and not because the world doesn’t want to give opportunity to the youth. It’s just that I just wasn’t a youth that was standing out.
That’s called the spray and pray approach.
“Let’s just go and apply for a doctor role, whatever.”
And then you actually start thinking, well why are they saying no?
You learn that you have to tailor yourself, and you have to tailor yourself to what do I need.
Do I need more training? Do I need to go and ask people? Do I need mentors?
And that’s what I did. I got some mentors, they gave me some advice.
I got my first apprenticeship opportunity, in a suit that was too big for me, I walked in, I didn’t know what was going on, but I just loved turning up.
Rejection and failure can lead you to booming business ideas
In some ways, that experience, having all those doors slammed in your face, that ended up being quite pivotal because you then made it your mission to help other young people in a similar position to get a toehold on the career ladder.
So, has that been the fuel that’s kind of guided your career after that experience in sales and recruitment?
Absolutely. They say don’t fall in love with the solution but fall in love with the problem.
I didn’t want any other individual focused on the youth to ever feel like they were worthless, like they would never be able to get a job.
We need to be a more inclusive country when it comes to opening doors for those from social mobility and disadvantaged backgrounds.
I think there’s a long way we still need to go.
And you tried to tackle that through a quite direct approach, which was through creating a kind of job site/social media site called Yourfeed.
Tell us about that.
I knew nothing about technology. I was going in the deep end, and we created this platform.
I had investors, I had a team, and we set off to build this organisation that would rip up the CV and give young people the opportunity to show their real self to employers, and that was the mission set out.
When it’s your first business, you think your idea is brilliant.
You think it’s going to take off, and you’re going to be the next Elon Musk, and A, B, and C. You’re going to actually change a generation.
Then you realise that actually it’s not that simple.
You have to bring a lot of people with you, and when you start having a board of directors, when you start having investors, it is no longer just your baby. It becomes a business that you have to manage.
But how do you manage a business when you’ve only got five years of work experience, and you don’t really know how to write an invoice?
Well, you have to ask people around you, and you have to put yourself in the deep end, and you have to foul, and you have to extend your knowledge as quick as you can.
That’s what I tried to do.
I tried to understand business and grow something meaningfully.
Raising $1m at 22 years old—but not being able to write an invoice
In a way though, this is really interesting because you manage to raise $1m worth of finance without a minimum viable product, when you just kind of had an idea, which is testament to how you know you are an amazingly eloquent speaker.
You’re charismatic. You’re a great salesman.
But then why did these investors give that kind of money to someone who then has to ask around on how to write an invoice?
That’s an interesting conundrum because that’s an awful lot of pressure.
So, that must have been quite overwhelming.
Looking back, those investors were idiots, and so was I.
I was the idiot because I shouldn’t have taken the money.
Why are the investors idiots? Because they gave me the money. They’re really smart, by the way, but they are idiots.
They should have probably given me £20,000, and said “Here’s your first £20,000, go and learn everything you can.”
They didn’t. They just gave me the million.
How old were you at that point as well when you raised that money?
22 years old.
Okay. Yeah. So, very fresh-faced.
Issues with investors causing chaos
Tell us how far you managed to get down that journey.
We got a lot further than people imagined because a lot of our stuff was about building communities behind the scenes.
So, what we were able to do is build a product.
We were able to build a team to 50 in total, and then what we did was launch that product, and young people started to get work through it.
I use the snowball analogy.
You take a lot of time to build that snowball, and then you push it down the hill. I believe there are always issues in business, and nothing’s ever perfect.
We were at the stage where we could potentially only need one more round of investment until we were able to make a profit from the service that we offer.
We needed the next bit of investment, and the investors agreed to put that next bit in, and then we had an investor come into the business that caused a little bit of chaos, and I call it a bit of chaos because I was like, “Who’s trying to take away my baby?”
And we all had chaos, and it was just a room full of chaos, and that is when the business stopped.
Was there a moment that you remember where you were like, “That’s it. We’ve hit a wall. We can’t go any further,” or was it just to sort of death by a thousand knives over time?
I remember having my second meeting with this investor, and we were in a public place, and he shouted at me for no reason.
And then he went kind, then he said I was his friend, and then he said he was my mentor.
It all got a little bit confusing, and that is the time I knew I had a devil in the business.
However, looking back, chaos is a ladder, and you can use the chaos to learn, to grow, make mistakes, or create opportunity, and I think that’s what the pandemic did.
It gave a lot of individuals the opportunity to refocus what they care about, who they are, what do they want to do.
So, that chaos created a ladder for growth for me to go into my next adventure.
Learnings taken from one failed business to make the next one thrive
And tell us about that then. So, tell me about what learnings you’ve taken from Yourfeed and how you’ve applied them to your new business, The Youth Group.
Tell us a bit about that as well.
One of the things that I did at Yourfeed that carried across was ‘Think big, be big’. So, I took some time to understand what went right, what went wrong.
The first thing I did wrong was raise investment.
So, I said, “I’m going to bootstrap the business that I run, and as soon as I get enough money, I’m going to pay back the investors that lost their money.”
That’s all I wanted to do.
I offered some of the investors to come in to give them equity. No, I didn’t want any of their money. I just wanted to say, “Here you go. Let’s do it again.”
The response was interested. I think there were a lot of high attentions, and some said, “Sod off.”
So, I was left alone, and I said, “Right, it all needs to start with youth in the name. Let’s not forget why we’re here,” and that’s why The Youth Group, because it has to be in the name.
From there, we started building micro communities on Facebook.
So, The Youth Group now.
It has 200 Facebook communities with about 6,000 young people in each one, young black girls who can coach, young entrepreneurs, and we built the core of the community.
So, what we built was data.
Then I surrounded myself with smarter advisers and mentors that could help me in different sectors like media or technology or focus.
This year we will do just shy of £10m revenue.
It has no investors. I have 55 full-time members working with me, no one works for me.
We have put over 90,000 young people into some shape of work, and we have given 22,000 mentoring sessions.
That is what I am so proud of.
The successes come from having people around me who care, who love the mission, and care about youth and were helping the youth before they joined the mission because I think that’s really important as well.
It’s also the people who know how to put me in my place and say, “Jack, I don’t think you really understand this bit. Let us deal with it.”
And that has built an organisation that has become sustainable, but purposeful.
I make mistakes every day.
We get things wrong all the time, and I think the lessons I learnt from the previous business were, don’t raise too early and cash is not king—it’s crown, and it’s diverse.
You have to look after your cash, and you have to test the market to see if they want it.
Do they want it? Don’t overspend and realise that you have to always adapt and change your product, change your solution.
We’ve rebranded twice already in three years.
Using a subscription model to create a steady flow of revenue
But tell me then about the actual proposition because I saw on the website, you’ve kind of got ‘For companies’ and ‘For young people’.
So, is the idea that you bring on these amazing brands who want to offer opportunities to young people who maybe invest in the business, or maybe they pay a subscription to be part of it, and then young people you funnel them through, and you help them find these roles.
Is it as straightforward as that, or is there more stuff going on behind the scenes?
I’m a big believer of, if a five-year-old can understand it, anyone can.
Two markets, you’ve got your youth market. So, we have 17% of the UK’s youth in our community. So, we have over 25 million insights on our youth.
Do they come from single parent households, and we focus on stage, not age? What is the barrier they overcome? We have over 95,000 young entrepreneurs in our community that want to get into entrepreneurship and grow their businesses.
So, we’ve built the community-led, and we focus on stage, not age. So, we help the young person with all these questions.
What are your barriers to entry? What are you trying to really do? What do you actually want, and what don’t you want?
We don’t focus on, “Oh, we’ll put all the black young girls here.” No, we don’t do that.
Anyone who’s interested in tech, regardless if you’re 18 or 29, you’re in that group, and we will help you get you to your next step.
Then on the employer side, we have three simple entries.
So, Youth Engage, Youth Develop, and Youth Hire, which breaks down to Youth Jobs, Youth Mentoring, and Youth Verified.
Companies will purchase those offerings as a subscription, and then everything is unlimited.
So, it’s an unlimited, no-brainer, no contract, cancel any time if we do not deliver, month by month, small fee, but we have over 700 paying clients at one given time.
So, that’s how we’ve been able to build the recurring revenue and make it sustainable, while servicing the needs of youth, and not changing too much on the company’s needs because they have this ATS, or they want to do it this way.
Making £10m in as little as three years
But £10m in turnover, that’s massive.
How long has it taken you to get to £10m? Has it been a sprint or have you been working on this for a while?
We’ve been going for three years. It’s taken the last two years to get here. And I think part of that has been due to the lockdown.
I stopped being a busy fool, running round, and having these coffees. I also got early stage skin cancer in lockdown, and I didn’t want to flip the duvet anymore, and that really threw me because I thought to myself, “Oh no, what am I going to do? I’ve not even started the impact and the legacy that I want to leave on the world and for young people.”
That’s when I realised that I had a really, really smart, energetic, and caring team around me who jumped in, took the reins, and supported me through that period.
In result, we grew, and it wasn’t all, “I’ll get involved with everything”.
I let go a little, and we started to shape the organisation in ways that it is today, and so that growth sprint has come out of nowhere. We’ve grown dramatically.
I think the reason why it has become sustainable is because we have that monthly recurring revenue.
We’re not trying to chase the next big contract for three months’ time because we know then our run rate goes down.
We’ve got this monthly recurring, when a company drops off because they might not have the recruitment needs, or it’s not tailored to what they want, yet again, I’m not going to sit here and say, “Everything’s perfect,” because it’s not.
We’ve had a few clients that have dropped off this week, but every five clients that drop off, 15 join, and 10 stay.
And when I say drop off, they might do it for a period of three months, and then say, “Right, we’ve done our recruitment. We might not have any more needs.”
Business changes. Redundancies come, and it’s the cycle of the business world.
I think adding sustainable recurring revenue helps your mental health as a founder. It helps you grow, and it helps you predict where to go next and what to do next. Do we have enough money to do A, B, and C?
My only job as the CEO currently, but you can call me the Chief Cleaning Officer because I get involved with everything, is to make sure I can hit payroll every month because those people have invested in me, in terms of come and join us, and we’re investing in them.
I think that’s the trust contract that you build between an employee and yourself as an entrepreneur.
Build your trust contract. You break that trust contract when you can’t pay them anymore.
Balancing being an entrepreneur while getting a cancer diagnosis
We’ve covered so much ground in that last question. There’s so much I want to ask you.
So, the point about recurring revenue I think is a great one to make. That’s like the holy grail. It brings certainty. It makes forecasting a hell of a lot easier.
But you got skin cancer. That is a massive curveball.
Tell us about that diagnosis. How did you find out?
I mean, how much time did you have to take out of the business? Can you work when you’re receiving treatment?
I mean, that’s every entrepreneur’s nightmare, basically.
It gave me the opportunity to reflect and say what do I really want, what do I really need to do, to do my part, my little part in the world because an entrepreneur’s dream is to do their part.
Yes, making loads of money is a bonus.
But for me, this has always been about legacy setting and doing something for youth.
Some people do stuff for climate change and to make the world better in terms of a new technology. So, people can get on holiday on time, but mine is for youth, and that really gave me the reflection.
Could I work? No, not for six months.
I didn’t want to get out of bed, but yet again, my team around me lifted me up.
But I’m glad to see that you look well now.
Is everything, fingers crossed, okay, and are you fit and feeling good?
I’m skin cancer free, which is amazing. The only thing now is my diet.
I’ve put on a bit of weight in lockdown with all the stuff, with all the stress and stuff, and once you get the all clear you do is eat loads of Maltesers, and every time you say you’re going to stop, they bring out a new Maltesers bar or Maltesers hot chocolate or something, and I’m a big Maltesers fan, but I’m on my healthy eating.
I’ve lost half stone in two weeks because what gets measured gets done.
Why did young people go to The Youth Group for help during the pandemic?
Why don’t you tell me a little bit about the plight of young people during the pandemic, and what about that situation made them come to The Youth Group?
I believe everyone started to see smoke in different ways in their lives, and it was like, is a fire going to be started or not, and I’m using it as analogy, and young people had a lot of smoke in their face.
Some jumped from education into interviewing from an ironing board at the end of their bed, and it gave a lot of young people less confidence, and that is when the confidence pandemic came in.
It just gave an in-looking view for young people thinking, has this pandemic messed it all up for me, and we didn’t do any marketing in the lockdown.
We didn’t jump on any trend. We stayed very consistent and our numbers grew.
I got a call from Rishi, the Chancellor of the UK, and he said, “Jack, we need to do something for the youth,” and my first answer was, “No, I’m already doing stuff for the youth, and I’m not feeling well.”
And then I reconsidered, and he showed me, him and his team showed me the plans for the Kickstart Scheme, and I said, “Okay, maybe, maybe.”
I looked into the policy a little bit more, and then I did an FE News article saying, “This won’t work.”
Then I said to myself, “Jack, that was actually quite rude of you. You’re saying something won’t work without actually helping it work.”
So, I decided to help him and do my bit.
When you get involved with government, you can only do so much, and you don’t want to be dragged right in, and I’m not a policy person.
I don’t work for the government, so I can only do what I can see from the outside.
I started to get involved, and then I went over to the Chancellor in the pandemic, and it was one of my first public visits because I had to be very careful with the skin cancer to meet anyone.
I went and sat down, and we had a chat, and people started getting jobs, and 125,000 young people got into the Kickstart Scheme, which is amazing because it gave them work experience.
But the next challenge was two things.
It was over-engineered at DWP and there were too many blockers.
So, 125,000 jobs did not go filled, even though companies, small businesses put in and said, “Oh, I’ll have a Kickstarter. I will help a young person.”
It never got through this system because it was just chaos, and this system was not built in an entrepreneurial mind.
They should have hired Google to do it.
They should have come and got someone from the private sector to make it work, and that’s why 125,000 jobs went unfilled for young people who could have done those opportunities.
Then the other part of it is there’s 125,000 young people, not all of them are guaranteed full-time work.
We work with an organisation who took on 200. They’re committed to the 200 young people to come in joining. But because of the chaos at DWP, they only filled 100 of them.
And then out of the 100, they could only commit to taking on 50 full time.
Then the 50 that actually got to go and work at the organisation for six months were told at the end of the six months, “Thank you. The scheme’s run out, the funding’s run out. Bye-bye.”
So, is that kicking the can down the road?
That is when we really scaled up on our digital mentoring programme to say, “Young people need hope, skills, and opportunity. They need to speak to real people because they can’t get to real people right now, just their small circles around them.”
That is when we launched the mentoring programme digitally to help 22,000 young people.
Facebook and Pinterest are the hidden treasures to building your micro communities
You said earlier when it came to building your micro communities, am I right that a lot of them were on Facebook?
Because I’d love to talk about that because I thought that Facebook was for oldies like me and that young people weren’t on Facebook, but clearly if they’re joining these communities, then they are.
Let’s not forget the power and the reach that Facebook has, and how easy it is, if you’ve got a bit of money, to build a community because they’ve spent so much investment, time, brain power in getting that right, so you can reach people.
Secondly, when everyone runs one way, run the other.
So, while everyone was running towards TikTok and Instagram to try and build youth communities.
“Oh, not another TikTok community this organisation wants me to join, not another trend, not another this.”
We kept it very low-key, safe space, safe platform in terms of everyone knows what Facebook is, closed groups so no one could access.
It’s a bit like the post box. If you know the post box is going to be there tomorrow, you’re going to, “Oh, you know what? I’ll post that letter tomorrow.”
That’s why pop-up restaurants and small businesses who pop up for a week and say only a week only do really well.
So, we wanted to have a space that was exclusive.
It was by the people for the people. So, we have the young people creating the content and managing, governing—you can’t govern alone.
We let the young people who are members of that community govern how they see fit, and then just being very authentic and real by not going to put a Red Bull advert in there because young people are smart.
They see when you’re trying to sell to them.
So, platforms that you should be promoting on, if you want to build a micro community and several hundred of them, Facebook has got the tools and the reach and the marketing methodology to do that.
I think LinkedIn is a really good platform to build your business community, and don’t sell.
Market, showcase your impact, showcase what you’re doing.
Then a secret one, it’s a secret treasure of the nation is Pinterest. A lot more people turn to Pinterest.
If you look at Pinterest growth numbers in lockdown, it grew a lot, and people go to Pinterest for inspiration.
When you say to a young person, “Name me three social media sites,” they don’t put Pinterest on the list really.
So, Pinterest, Facebook exclusive groups, and your business community, double up your investment in terms of time on LinkedIn.
I reach 12 million people a week on LinkedIn now, due to the content I post.
Future ambitions for The Youth Group
No, that’s interesting detail. Really good to know.
And tell me then, Jack, what are your ambitions for The Youth Group?
I want to get to a stage in the next 24 months where we’re helping a million young people a year, physically into mentorship or jobs.
We’re launching, well, we have a soft launch. It’s more of a branch than a limited company in New Zealand. So, we’re helping the Maori community who can’t access digital opportunities there.
Now that I know more about technology and I have some great advisers around me who run some of the biggest technology companies, we’re building an app for youth called ‘Embassy’, so they can get a mentor and a job within 60 seconds.
So, we’re scaling the unscalable.
We’re putting sanctions on anyone, any organisation that asks for a CV because I believe anyone who’s got three years or less experience should not be putting in a CV, and they should be putting a fact sheet in and a showcase or a portfolio.
We’re getting a lot bolder.
You have to become Youth Verified brand to work with us now, and a Youth Verified brand which was built with McKinsey & Company. It’s all about how youthful are you, how diverse are you, how are you really engaging your brand touch points to youth?
So we will not work with a brand anymore unless they become Youth Verified.
Employers need to take action on the issues their employees care about
I get press releases all the time about how the millennial generation and below are all looking for different things from employers, and the things that matter to them are things like ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance).
They want to know that the business is looking at climate change. They want flexible working. They want diversity.
They want these things, and this is interesting because you’re actually mandating that in terms of the big businesses that you work with because you know that’s what young people want.
Absolutely. Think it as a B Corp or investors in people for youth, and we have seen a 72% increase in applications due to a Youth Verified brand.
We recently verified Pret A Manger.
One of the recommendations, because we do a secret shop, we do an internal audit and an external audit.
One of the internal audits that came up was that young people felt they weren’t being paid enough. Then Pret announced that they were upping the salary to £10 an hour, literally nine weeks ago.
That was due to the report that we created and the Youth Verified that we did.
So, we can make changes.
Now there’s also 13 other recommendations on there that they’ve not started yet which is fine. We give up to 15 recommendations, and they have to complete at least three of them in the first 18 months of getting the report. That’s the deal.
I’m not too sure what happens what we’re going to do if they don’t do it yet, but maybe they lose their Verified badge.
Well, maybe we’ll do that. We’ll sanction them that way.
It’s just seen an increase because you’re totally right, people want to know about ESG, social responsibility, and there are all these questions.
Do these people care about me because I’m a single mum? Do these people care about me because I have a disability? I’m autistic, or I have diabetes, are they there to support me as an individual?
That’s what the youth want to know.
They want to know that the organisation they’re going to commit to because it’s a two-way street, and organisations, regardless your size, has to compromise and meet young people in the middle.
The Youth Group itself is run by young people
I wanted to ask whether you have lots of young people working for you as part of my kind of wider question, which is you’ve grown up now, Jack. You are in your mid-twenties now.
So, you are not technically the teenager that you were when you started out on this journey, so how do you keep your finger on the pulse?
How do you make sure that you know that the topical issues that young people are facing, and then do you have lots of them in your organisation?
So, I’m not sure you had the opportunity, Bex, to meet Oliver.
He’s only 20 himself, and he kind of helps me with my special projects. He came to me at 16, lost, and I took him under my wing, and he’s 20 now, and he’s thrived over the last couple of years, and it’s been amazing to see his growth.
I have a 22-year-old who runs the day-to-day business who is not hashtag London, and it’s all about the level and up strategy.
First time he came to London was when he met me.
We have single mums. We have international students, and it’s really important that you listen, and you seek to understand and ask young people how they see it because I can easily be confused.
If I’m going to sit around the table, where I’ve been invited to the Cabinet Office a few times to give my verdict, or the co-op board, you can easily be drawn into that environment, but it’s showing up in different environments and the community you serve in.
A lot of people say, “Oh, it’s really good to have common sense,” and I agree, you have to have common sense, but it’s even more important to have community sense and understanding and respecting the community that you’re showing up to.
To stay relevant, to know what’s going on because you don’t know how young people see it. The young lady who lives in Wales in Cardiff, has a different challenge to a young guy who lives in Essex.
So, just ask the questions.
Making a multi-million-pound business deal on a handshake—never again
You mentioned making mistakes every day, and I love that you say that because I mean, business owners, we do.
Mistakes happen all the time, and it’s best to be honest about it, but I’d love to know if you can share a recent mistake and what you learned from it.
So, I’m a big believer that pain plus reflection equals progression, and you have to go through that pain and that learning to reflect and then obviously progress.
I recently did a business deal, a multi-million-pound business deal with an organisation on a handshake.
We’re no longer in that business deal.
So, it’s really important, and I used to always say, “If you want to understand someone’s true intentions, get them to draft the agreement.”
And I didn’t take my own advice, Bex, but they took the money because there was no contract, and all we were trying to do was make a difference for young people who didn’t have a safe space.
If it’s a business deal between a limited company and a limited company, put a contract in place.
Don’t do anything on a handshake.
Get an agreement because you have a responsibility as a director, legally, to protect the interest of your organisation.
Sod the loss of the money. Sod everything else.
It’s been an expensive learning for me, but one I will never forget.
If you want to understand someone’s true intentions, get them to draft the agreement, and get that agreement drafted before you put any resource, money, or investment into any opportunity, no matter how excited you are.
That’s my recent learning.
That’s really good advice, but how did you bounce back from that?
That’s massive, and you are talking about it now as water off duck’s back.
So, tell me how you came back from that because that must have been a big blow.
First thing I did, Bex, was break down and cry because all those young people that we invested in for that project, designers, and everything, and you let people down, you put your trust in someone, and you’ve not followed your own rule book, and we all do it as entrepreneurs.
We all say something, and we don’t follow our own, no matter who you are, no matter how smart you are, no matter who you are or how good you are.
We all have mistakes. We all get comfortable.
I cried, and I tried to seek to understand where I went wrong. What could I have done better? Was it something in me? Am I not strong enough?
And a problem shared is a problem halved, so I sought out my advisers around me, and we came up with a plan to exit meaningfully, to gracefully exit, not to make it big flashing news.
I try and stay away from press because it takes away the chaos, even though I believe press for entrepreneurs is really good and partnering with journalists is really important to build your business.
I’ve reflected. I learned some things I’d do differently. I call it an expensive learning because it will never happen again.
They’re only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger, and I’m only going to make bigger and bigger mistakes, but don’t let it wipe out your business.
Guard your business, and don’t let the busyness of business take you out of business.
Not all advice is good advice
I suppose when something bad happens, you just have to reflect on the impact you’ve made so far as well.
I saw on your website that you’ve already touched I think it was a million young people’s lives.
So, when something goes wrong, at least you know, pat on the back, I’ve come this far, and I’ve made this much impact and done some good in the world. It can’t be all bad.
Absolutely, and I remember one of the investors in my first business saying, “Don’t waste your time on stages. Don’t waste your time on podcasts. Focus. Focus. That’s all you need to do is focus.”
If I took that advice, I wouldn’t be here today.
I wouldn’t be able to flip the duvet for one young person or one business entrepreneur who may listen today.
In the process of not listening to that advice has given the opportunity to empower and inspire a million young people. Every time I get up on stage or every time before I came to today, meeting you, Bex, I was like, “Oh, Bex follows me on Twitter, whoo,” that kind of thing.
You have to immerse yourself in the community that you’re kind of embracing in, and remember that not all advice is good advice, and you have to decide what’s right for you and your business.
So, with that, not taking that advice has given me the opportunity to empower and inspire a million people, and some of those people may not be inspired.
Let’s just put it bluntly. Not everyone likes ketchup on their chips.
So, you have to realise that you’re not going to please everyone.
You’re not going to get it right all the time, and that’s why I try and go, I turn up in my authentic self. I turn up as me. I turn up as the guy whose given it a go, who doesn’t know all the answers, who has been lucky, has worked hard seven days a week, has overcome a few things.
But I don’t forget where I come from, and I don’t forget that I can learn from every single person that I interact with.
Inspired by this small business story?
Wherever you’re listening or watching, subscribe to Sound Advice on Apple iTunes here.
We are also on Spotify and anywhere else you get your podcasts.
Want to know more about Jack Parsons and The Youth Group?
You can find Jack on Twitter.
Small business toolkit
Get your free guide, business plan template and cash flow forecast template to help you manage your business and achieve your goals.
Subscribe to the Sage Advice newsletter
Join more than 500,000 UK readers and get the best business admin strategies and tactics, as well as actionable advice to help your company thrive, in your inbox every month.