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Ben Towers

16 Year Old Gets Shortlisted For Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014

12 October 2014 14:15


Most 16 year olds would have their time spent on exams, computer games and parties but Young Entrepreneur Ben Towers spends most of his time working on his business Towers Design, culminating in him shortlisted for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2014 - Young Entrepreneur Of The Year.

When Ben was 11 years old he used his passion for computers to build a basic website for a family friend. Once completed a £50 cheque was sent his way and it left Ben extremely pleased with his work. From then on Ben signed up to a handful of freelance sites and began to sell his services.

By 12 years old Ben had already worked with over 25 different businesses and had made what he thought was a fortune. Ben began to look at other services he could offer (as this meant more pocket money / income), quickly Ben began to show a innate ability for graphic design and this was added to his repertoire of services.

On the 21st September 2011 Ben decided to combine all of his skills he had gained from freelancing to form a successful business, Towers Design. Most young people in year 8 at school would not have seen this as an option for someone of such a young age but Ben located and hunted down a gap in the industry for a low cost digital media business providing: website and graphic design, printing, website hosting, SEO and video production.

As time quickly passed by so Ben’s skills advanced and the workload increased and after a very short space of time Ben had 3 freelancers working for him on a job by job basis.

In the early part of 2014 Ben completed his digital media team in his business to a round number of 15! Now aged 16, this is still the case and his businesses is continuing to thrive even during his GCSE exams.

Ben is an ambassador for the Federation Of Small Businesses in there new initiative aiming to get young people into business and join the Federation. He represents young business entrepreneurs, highlighting their particular strengths and weaknesses and fighting for equality in business. In addition to the FSB, Ben is the South East Ambassador for the social enterprise YENA - Young Entrepreneur Networking Association. He is passionate about supporting young people in business and is currently planning a large summit for 1000 business study students for next summer.

When asked what have been the main challenges of starting your business Ben said:
“Starting a business when under the age of 18 is like a minefield. Not only are you developing as a person but also learning practical skills in business. As a minor there are so many laws limiting what you can do.

One of the biggest issues for me has been finance. Because I am under 18 I cannot get a business bank account, but when my bank found out I was using a child account for business activity it was frozen. Thankfully the Federation Of Small Businesses intervened and I am still using the account for business activity. But this is still not easy, clients try to send cheques or bank transfer payments to me but when an individuals name comes up or their cheque is sent back with a note to change the name it can cause problems and in some cases looses business as it makes my business seem untrustworthy.

In addition to this, because my business is based online I need to accept payments via an online gateway but again being a minor by law I cannot have an account. This means I have to have this accounts in my parents name and make finding a suitable payment gateway extremely hard.

I constantly get people saying to me “why would a successful business owner want a 16 year old to build their website?” In some contexts I understand this but if the service I’m producing is of the same or better standard than my competitors, then why not?

Unfortunately, I have lost some very large contracts because of my age. In one example once they discovered my age I was swiftly sent an email saying the budget was cut and the contract would not continue. Although they were, and still are, industry leaders I now look at the company in a new light and am actually happy that I’m not working for them anymore.

For many young people, mixing business with education is extremely tough. Unlike other entrepreneurs we can’t necessarily answer the phone during the day or go to an important meeting at the drop of the hat. At present I get home from school at around 4pm which means I only have 90 minutes of ‘business hours’ to make contact with clients and speak to people on the phone, otherwise it takes a day just to get a reply to an email.

In the UK we tend to see failure as the ‘end of business’ but we need to realise that you can learn a lot from mistakes – in my opinion you certainly learn more from practical actions than you do from theory.” /

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About Ben Towers

About Ben Towers
Ben Towers has been named by Richard Branson as “one of the UKs most exciting entrepreneurs” and at only 18 years old he runs a successful marketing agency (Towers Design) working with leading brands all over the world to engage them with the next generation via social media and effective campaigns. Ben was named by The Times at the top of their Super Teen Power List in the world and is an experienced public speaker and regularly on TV promoting young people in business.

About Towers Design
Started by Ben Towers when he was just 11 years old, Towers Design is a thriving, multi-award winning Kent based full service digital agency offering design, printing, website development and hosting services to clients in Kent and London.

About Social Marley
Social Marley the latest company to be created by leading young entrepreneur Ben Towers. Launching soon, the platform is set to change how social media can be managed for small and medium sized businesses of all kinds.

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