At the start of this year teenager Laurence Moss was in full revision mode for his GCSE exams, which he should have taken last month. Then COVID-19 struck, and schools were closed and exams canceled.
It was a devastating blow for teenagers all over the U.K., leaving many of them stressed and worried about their future. Sixteen-year-old Moss focused instead on navigating his business through a global pandemic.
“I’d planned to scale up the business in the summer holidays when my exams had finished,” he says. “But, when the announcement came that GCSEs would not be going ahead, I decided to scale up now.”
Moss is the founder of full-service Instagram marketing agency Greedy Growth, which he launched when he was 14. His first official client was a major pop culture auction company. But this wasn’t his first foray into the social media scene. A couple of years earlier he’d started a YouTube channel, uploading vlog-style videos, only to find himself the target of bullies at school. But he was determined not to be beaten.
“I was only 12, and like many youngsters of that age, I was quite insecure and didn’t understand how to take the mockery that I was having to endure every day,” says Moss. “In my mind, the best solution was to switch to another social media platform, Instagram, and create pages that didn’t need to have my face behind them.”
Slowly he grew this into the marketing agency he owns today, and along the way realized something very important. “No matter who you are, or what you do, you are always going to face setbacks in life,” he says. “The bullying had stopped at this point, but now I was facing another problem; rejection. I found it very hard to cope when a prospective client said no, but it was something I had to come to terms with and grow as a person in order to overcome it.”
Moss found reading books such as ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ and ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ helped his self-development. Between 2018 and 2019 he grew an Instagram following of over 350,000, between various Instagram pages in niches such as travel, motorbikes, football, and memes.
“I’d spent more than a year figuring out exactly how the Instagram algorithm worked, and how I could leverage its current state to grow Instagram pages extremely quickly,” he says. “Armed with this information I realized there were a lot of businesses that simply didn’t have the time to learn and implement these strategies, so I developed a set of services and started pitching.”
Moss joined LinkedIn and some niche Instagram marketing communities, equipped with a degree of knowledge but lacking sight of the bigger picture. The solution, he discovered, was to trade the information he already had with people who were adept at a certain area of Instagram marketing.
“Each trade of value served as a puzzle piece, and eventually the puzzle formed,” he says. “That information formed the base knowledge of my Instagram marketing skills and enabled me to grow to over 350,000 followers.”
He admits that his biggest challenge has been juggling school work and business life. When revision for some internal school exams last year left him with no time to look after his clients, he had to let them go. “The fix was to streamline my business work and learn how to delegate, so I could focus on both client support and my studies,” he says.
At the start of 2020, his future plans had looked so clear; completing his GCSE exams, starting his A levels later this year, and then heading to university to study business and management, all the while keeping his business running. COVID-19 changed everything.
“I decided to focus on my business while school was closed and we’re growing again extremely quickly considering that two months ago I was starting again from zero,” he says.
At the same time Moss started working with some small local businesses, offering his services to help them with their social media marketing free of charge.
“Right now, because of the current climate, they have nothing to offer me, and that’s OK, but when things start getting back to normal once the pandemic is over, they’ll remember the help I gave them and some may even become clients.”
Moss runs Greedy Growth alone, but when he needs help he can call on a remote team of freelancers who deal with specific areas of client work, such as community management. In May the business turned over £1,500 and is on track to exceed revenues of £2,000 this month (June), and over £4,000 per month before the end of 2020.
His advice to other youngsters with entrepreneurial ambitions but who are facing challenges is to just have a go.
He says: “Visualize what you want to build and work towards it. If you hit a roadblock, persevere and work things out. Surround yourself with people who’ve had a similar journey to the one you are aspiring to and learn from them. Most importantly, learn to be resilient. Don’t let the prospect of failure or potential setbacks, or other people trying to put you down, rock your confidence or your determination.”