Brisbane teenagers Taylor Reilly and Lachlan Delchau-Jones — 19 and 18, respectively — decided during the initial COVID-19 lockdown in March to launch an e-commerce store that sold craft products for families to do at home.
That venture netted them over $70,000 in sales over four weeks.
Lessons learnt from entrepreneurship
Speaking exclusively to MyBusiness, Mr Reilly said the biggest thing holding most people back from pursuing their own business ideas is the fear of making mistakes along the way.
“Get your hands in the mud. Most people don’t even do that — to just go, ‘OK, let me sit down and let’s do 1 per cent of what is needed to be done to get this site up. Let’s do 1 per cent today’,” Mr Reilly said.
“Most people panic about all the risks and will never pull the trigger on it. That’s the most important thing, I think, which from what I’ve seen and what Lachie’s seen, is that most people are really too afraid of the risks.”
Mr Delchau-Jones added that he also realised why he started so young at 14. Even then, he still said he could’ve started even younger.
“I say, even to this day, that I kick myself that I didn’t start younger, because the biggest asset, the biggest reason why I started young was because of expenses,” he said.
“The $2,000 that I spent [on my first venture] then was pretty much nothing in the grand scheme of things. I had nothing to buy. I had a roof over my head. I live with my family. Life was good.
“So, starting young, when you’ve got no expenses and nothing to lose, that’s the key. The younger you are, the better.”
Gen Z misunderstood by the workforce
Being both part of Generation Z (people born between 1995 and 2010), both Mr Reilly and Mr Delchau-Jones also recalled experiences of being misunderstood as younger people in the workforce, not just from older colleagues but even among their peers.
Mr Reilly said that when he was 17 and graduated high school, he went and got a bunch of marketing jobs.
“I knew what I was talking about. I spent the last few years doing it myself. So, if I needed to build websites for people, I remember being 17 in those situations made it very hard to do a good job because you get shunned and looked down on and all these things. No one takes you seriously in a corporate environment,” he said.
“That’s why, I guess, being an entrepreneur at this age is good because you work for yourself.”
When Mr Delchau-Jones began going down the entrepreneurial path at 14, he said he couldn’t resonate with any of his friends his age, let alone people older than him.
“People just had disbelief that, at 14, it was possible,” Mr Delchau-Jones said.
Hailing from Ipswich in Queensland, Mr Delchau-Jones would trek into the city every weekend where he would try to meet with somebody new.
“I would just go to a café. I wouldn’t drink coffee because I didn’t want to have a coffee at 14, but I would try to meet somebody new,” he said.
“It was always one of the things that would rock up and the person at the other end of the table opposite to me would be the man in the situation. He’d be there and think he’s in control. But it would always turn towards the end in disbelief.”
The future requires strong work ethic and embracing digital
As for what they believe the future of work will be like, Mr Reilly said a strong work ethic is an attitude he’s always applied and will continue to draw from.
“The background that I came from was that I didn’t work for my $13 [an hour]. I was there to work for the person when I was working part-time in the workforce,” he said.
“I’m not doing $13 per hour worth of work. I’m doing all the work I possibly can. Work ethic is a massive thing, that’s first and foremost. It doesn’t matter if I’m working for somebody else or if I’m working for myself — work ethic is essential.”
Mr Delchau-Jones said that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rate at which everything is being digitised.
“COVID has pushed everything digital. It now plays into Millennial/Gen Z hands, where businesses are sort of forced to adapt and evolve to a digital sort of environment,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be very interesting especially for Australia, because a lot of businesses in Australia aren’t as up to date as they are in the US. I think the next three to five years is going to really show which businesses are going to die or thrive.”
Mr Reilly added that COVID-19 has also proved to the employer and the company that people can work from home and still meet their KPIs and still meet their requirement.
“Businesses are minimising a great expense there by bringing people into the office. People are showing they are still able to do their job at home,” Mr Reilly said.
“I think it’s one of those things that a lot of businesses will be re-evaluating whether people need to be coming in to the office as much or as frequently.”