Young business: The challenges, pitfalls, and passions

Conall and I first met each other back during secondary school, in Skerries Community College. We are both very similar, and different, in many regards. We both took a year out after our Leaving Certificate exams to assess what we wanted out of our education, and we both chose to do a Business degree in an esteemed Irish University. I chose Commerce in UCD, and he chose Business in DCU. Similar, but subtly different.Now at the tail end of our education, we are both again in similar positions. There is one distinct variance between the two of us though; Conall is the proud owner of a start-up.

Conall began his business in 2017, when he took a year out from his college education, instead of taking the option I took, and completed an internship. I decided to sit down with Conall and ask him about his time away from education; about how and why he created his start-up business, ‘Bags Of Books’.

The first thing I wanted to know, was why? Why take the risk? Why bother? Conall could have easily taken part in an internship programme - like me and many others of our age - and gained his business acumen there. The young professional explained that his parents have always been serial entrepreneurs. From painting houses, to selling books, to their successful toy and children’s book shop in Skerries, ‘The Bubble Room’.

Bags Of Books’ seemed like the natural progression in Conall’s career path, having been immersed in the children’s toy and book industry from a young age. Conall had the revelation he could go it alone and set up his solo venture, which is still in operation. I asked Conall what his advice would be to anyone starting a business, particularly to anyone starting a business who is still in education. He emphasized that “the one thing I wish I had spent more time on is planning”.

Everything takes time, especially if you’re still studying. Everything becomes this muddled balance, and priorities have to be made. Trade-offs and sacrifices become paramount to the running of a business, and if you think it slows down once the business is back up and running, think again. Conall begrudgingly mentions the need for a few sets of eyes in checking things. Fresh eyes can see where we fall down, and more importantly, can catch us before we fall.

When asked about what the other challenges are in creating a start-up, he immediately shakes his head and blurts out “support”. It wasn’t so bad for Conall, he had the backing of his parents, with first hand industry experience, and the droves of advice from a mother who had previously run book fairs in children’s schools. Any advice, from any facet, can be utilized if understood correctly; be it from friend, family, or acquaintance. There are more formal routes you can go down as well to get advice, like your Local Enterprise Office. Free advice can be the best.

The last nugget of wisdom Conall shared was possibly the most important of all. You can forget about running your business and finding motivation if you’re not passionate enough about it. If it isn’t something that pushes you to develop it, then it isn’t worth the time and effort to even begin. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, then you will not stand a chance in the long run. It’s something we have all heard since school, and something that successful entrepreneurs are constantly harping on about. How many times do we see videos of serial entrepreneur turned motivational speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk, talk about pushing your passions and strengths to success. Play to your passion and find someone who will pay for your passion.