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Fear is an energy: starting up as a teen

New and Networking

Fear is an energy: starting up as a teen

Matt Lovett is the founder of WOW Media, a multi-disciplinary digital marketing company that operates across a range of websites and industries. Started up when founder Matt Lovett was just sixteen years old, it has since grown to an international company that has been featured in the national press and which has several employees. Here Matt talks about overcoming fear to follow your dream, even when the odds seem stacked against you.

"Steve Jobs. Richard Branson. Elon Musk. All of these very successful businessmen have always had a distinct air of confidence about them. Their public personas have always been that of determination and vision. They display courage in the face of adversity, rising to and overcoming any challenge that they encounter. What we don't see is the fear, apprehension and self-doubt that they all surely experienced over and over again. And I was no different.

I started my first business at the young age of 13. In fact, I'm still in my early twenties, and I fully recognize that I still have a lot to learn. This being said, I have had the good fortune to launch and run a successful international company. That's no small feat. I don't say that to toot my own horn and I don't put myself in anywhere near the same league as the likes of Richard Branson, Donald Trump or Elon Musk. I say that because I too had my fair share of doubts and fears when I decided to start WOW Media in 2007. I was only 16 years old at the time and still at secondary school. What's more, I didn't seek any funding from outside sources, investors or venture capitalists. I started WOW Media, which now runs several websites with a global online advertising focus, using just my own savings. I used money that I had earned from some of my earlier online businesses, like a cashback site called British Rewards.

Dealing with school whilst simultaneously running my own business, I took a huge risk putting everything on the line, and only time could tell where I was heading. This was right around the time of the major global recession, in an environment where far more jobs were being lost than being found. And being a teenager who didn't have the best of GCSE results, my prospects in the traditional job market weren't exactly positive either. The safe thing to do would have been to attend college and get a degree to improve my future prospects. But that's not what I did. Instead, I overcame a lot of my personal fears for my future, decided to leave school, and devoted myself to my new online business full-time.

I was scared. Rather than trying to find a job, I was creating one for myself. Starting your own business is a tremendous risk, especially when it is backed only by your own money. I had everything to lose, because WOW Media could have been a monumental failure. I didn't really know everything that needed to be known about running a successful business, even though I had been dabbling in entrepreneurship since my early teenage years.

As scary as the experience was and continues to be, it has also been incredibly rewarding. Indeed, WOW Media grew very quickly, far more quickly than anyone could have anticipated. I had no prior knowledge about how to manage any of that. All of a sudden, I had an office in Birmingham. All of a sudden, I was expanding services and employing staff. I was creating jobs. I was spreading myself too thin, and it felt so overwhelming. But I was learning so much. And the success compelled me to continue.

Today, at the age of 23, I operate a large international affiliate network called WOW Trk as part of the WOW Media family. We work with over 400 advertisers, including such big brands like Booking.com and Ladbrokes. I risked the money I had saved from previous ventures on the possibility that WOW Media could be even bigger. And it has been, many-fold. WOW Media continues to grow massively, strength to strength, with each passing year. We are driven by success and fuelled by fresh ideas.

Embarking on an incredibly risky venture with no fear at all would be ill-advised. You'd be setting yourself up for disastrous decisions. But having just enough will both ground you in reality and motivate you to keep moving forward. Fear, ironically enough, is not something to be feared. It is something that you can harness and leverage to your advantage."

Connect with Matt on Twitter and Facebook.

Fear is an energy: enter Pitch To Rich 2015 today.