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Three Lessons From a 22 Year-Old CEO

July 30 |

Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Philip Green… All world-famous entrepreneurs who passed up further education for the “school of hard knocks.”

Ross Bailey, the most recent guest speaker in the London office, seems well on his way to joining this illustrious club. You might recognize him as a star of the BBC’s “Million Dollar Intern” – a 22-year-old CEO high-school dropout who has already launched several successful ventures, advised Downing Street on the sharing economy, and is now changing the face of the high street. Ross came into the London office to tell his story, and had three key takeaways for aspiring CEOs:

1. Make sure there’s money in the bank

As a young entrepreneur, Ross successfully convinced investors he was more than just “a kid with an iPad.” He focused on early revenue generation rather than obsessing over a hypothetical finished product – your venture will almost certainly end up differently from how you imagined, and “investors will be more compelled to invest in a concept with proven profitability”.

2. Attract, retain, and develop top talent

There are always people who can do things better than you. As soon as you can afford to do so, surround yourself with excellent people with three criteria in mind: how skilled they are at their role, what their approach to work is, and whether they fit into the company culture. Leaders should hire people who can not only excel in their role and thrive on challenges, but also contribute to the wider firm, and who really make things happen.

3. Steer the ship

Companies, like vessels, can go in an impossibly large number of directions. A good leader has the confidence to pick one, and the ability to convince others to follow.

A bit more about Ross:

  • Started his first company in his early teens, organizing highly profitable events for under-18s
  • Left school aged 16, uninspired and unconvinced by business classes
  • Enrolled in Peter Jones’ highly selective National Enterprise Academy
  • Founded Appear Here, his current business in 2012, aged 21

Appear Here aims to make renting retail space as easy as booking a hotel room. Clients range from start-up brands to Google and Red Cross and are all able to book global pop-up locations through Appear Here’s platform. Touted as a “Digital game changer for the high street” by The Guardian, Appear Here has received investment from the backers of Hailo, Pinterest, Spotify, and Trivago. See more here.