Three entrepreneurs have revealed the secrets of their success to students at South Tyneside College during short but sharp talks aimed at inspiring them into the world of business.
Neil Stephenson, Caroline Ormston and Michael Owen, passed on their wisdom as part of our inaugural Be Inspired Week.
The five-day programme, supported by business development agency TEDCO and South Tyneside Council, aimed to motivate youngsters seeking the entrepreneurial path.
Former South Tyneside College student Neil, 45, grew data hosting company Onyx’s annual turnover from £1m to £30m in 15 years, before selling it for £65m last year.
Caroline, 43, has enjoyed instant success after opening Hebburn-based Feminine Grace Beauty School and Parlour last year.
And Michael, 48, is founder and managing director of Newcastle unique luxury fashion brand Always Wear Red, his latest successful enterprise in a lengthy business career.
A key message to students during the informal one-hour talks was clear, with each imploring: “Seize the day, and don’t be afraid to fail.”
Of his business philosophy, Neil said: “Everybody has the chance to do something with their lives, they just have to roll their sleeves up.
“It’s important that the students know that there’s nothing wrong with a failure along the way, it gets you closer to success.
“And it’s not about the money, it’s about having fun and achieving success.”
Caroline added: “Success doesn’t come easily in life, and I told the students that no-one gets a free ride into business.
“But if you have a good idea, and you can develop a plan, you must make sure that you go for it.
“It’s essential that these young people get to see that there is a big, wide world out there, and have the confidence to pursue it.”
And Michael said: “The reason most people don’t achieve what they can achieve is because they can’t be bothered.
“If you are a young person, or in fact whatever age, just do it and stop making excuses. You may not always succeed, but you must try.
“You need an idea, but it doesn’t have to be unique, and you don’t even have to be the first to do something, but what you do need is drive and resilience.”
Be Inspired Week forms part of our Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund initiative, launched last year to support and inspire students in learning and life.
It is named after Dr Thomas Masterman Winterbottom, the founder of the 19th Century marine and technical school on which South Tyneside College was founded.
The fund supports students in a range of activities, including those whose exceptional entrepreneurial ideas require small financial backing.
Les Watson, who helped establish the fund, said: “Each of our guest speakers is from a different business background, but it’s clear they share the same ambition and drive.
“Their messages to students were wide-ranging, but they all agreed that making the effort and giving your ideas and dreams a go was fundamentally important.
“The college is very grateful to Neil, Caroline and Michael for taking the time to speak to our students. I’m hopeful their words of wisdom will inspire some to follow careers in business.”
Councillor John Anglin, Lead Member for Regeneration and Economy at South Tyneside Council, said: “It is always very special to see our home-grown talent grow and flourish. Entrepreneurs like these are real inspirations, especially to young people.
“As a council, we are keen to develop the technology sector and look forward to nurturing and supporting more emerging and established businesses in the borough.”
Anyone who would like to support the Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 427 3717.