MANY of his peers will be a few months into a college or university course, getting stuck into an apprenticeship or tentatively taking their first steps in the world of full-time work.
But 18 year old Regan Williamson, who finished high school in May, has gone down a different avenue and launched his own social media marketing business Klueless Media with help from the Prince’s Trust.
The Lerwick teenager had initially planned to have a gap year before heading off to study marketing at university.
But after being asked by local firm Shetland Computing to help bolster its profile, he realised there was nothing stopping him from jumping a few steps ahead. So he decided to go for it and quit his job at Tesco, which he wasn’t enjoying.
Regan said various members of his family had a business background and it was something he had wanted to do for a number of years.
“The idea of being in business is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was very young,” he said. “I didn’t know in what form, but I began looking into if a business had a marketing campaign, who they were targeting, on a TV show, how writers were drawing people back in. Marketing became a big part of my goal.”
Support from Prince’s Trust
Having already worked with organisations including Self-Catering Shetland and Shetland Motorbike Training, Regan has been ready to launch his business for a few months.
But he held off after finding out funding – in the shape of a £1,500 loan and a £500 grant – from the Glasgow-based Prince’s Trust, a charity that supports young people aged 13-30, was available.
His business will be one of the first to be supported by the trust’s new enterprise programme, meaning “I’ve got a mentor to fall back on if need be”.
“It’s quite a daunting thing, going into business,” he said, and one of the things that made him reluctant was the prospect of people who had been in business for 15-20 years might “turn their nose up” at a teenager telling them what to do.
He was also worried about “throwing myself into the limelight”, and scared of what friends, family, former teachers and the wider Shetland community would think. But since he started talking about his plans those same people have been nothing but supportive.
“Realistically, after four years at uni this is what I want to do anyway – I might as well jump the gun and see what happens.
“It’s not like I have many things to pay for, I have a supportive family and the community in Shetland is so supportive as well.
“I’ve grown up with social media, it’s something I’ve always seen as a key thing for businesses, and it’s important for businesses to do because everyone is on Facebook.
“Even within the business community, nobody has said this isn’t going to work – it’s a market that needs to be filled in Shetland.”
Making the most of social media
With social media content becoming increasingly saturated, he says it is more important than ever for firms to understand how best to ensure their posts reach their maximum potential audience.
“It’s so saturated that you do need to change things a little bit,” Regan says. “A big thing with that is the correct advertisements, a lot of people put money in and don’t make a return. 5,000 people might have seen a post, but how many have liked the page, gone to the website…?”
He is putting a lot of time and effort into finding local clients, but is also keen for Klueless Media to work with people beyond these shores, in particular with musicians.
Regan has already provided some assistance to American hip-hop artist called Chad B, who has worked with renowned rapper Lil Wayne.
The idea is to work for two or three months with a business and then “they’ll take a lot of knowledge off me”.
If he succeeds in establishing the business, he then hopes to be able to get involved and “make a difference” for some charities, in particular to help raise awareness of mental health problems.
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