When the Government announced GCSE examinations were to be cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, emotions were high and reactions were varied.
While parents were panicking, and teenagers were revelling in the fact they no longer needed to revise, 16-year-old Laurence Moss from Kent focused on building his business.
‘Having launched in 2018 and already seen some success, I’d planned to scale up the business in the summer holidays when my exams had finished,’ he said. ‘But when GCSEs were cancelled, I got straight to it.’
Greedy Growth founder Laurence Moss first started working on the business when he was 13
He started working on Greedy Growth aged just 13, and has now achieved success with more than 30 brands on his client list and a turnover of £25,000 in 2020 alone. Not a bad start for a business whose founder has just started studying for his A-Levels.
The marketing agency, launched in 2018, helps brands tell their stories and build their profile on social media, allowing them to connect with their target audience at scale.
It offers services ranging from organic audience growth to paid media campaigns, and specialises in promoting companies using Instagram.
After being granted free time due to the cancellation of his exams in 2020, Moss got stuck in to growing the business, winning new clients and boosting his own profile.
‘That chunk of time was enough to get Greedy Growth really off the ground, and the momentum has only built up from there,’ he said.
‘I had already scaled down my operations in anticipation for what would have been my GCSE exams, so when I started back up again practically from zero it was simply a case of finding out which industries and businesses were thriving during the pandemic, and offering them our services.
‘This was made easier by the fact that social media use drastically increased, with more people at home and the closing of bricks and mortar businesses. Instagram was more powerful than ever as a marketing tool.’
From passion to profit
For Laurence, social media marketing was simply a passion.
‘I’d always been fascinated with building communities, and when I started, I didn’t do it with the intention to make any money,’ he said.
Greedy Growth shares tips and insights for businesses on how to use Instagram
‘I simply wanted to learn how to market on Instagram, and make social media pages really take off. Before I knew it, I had built up a combined following of more than 350,000 between various Instagram pages in niches such as travel, motorbikes, football, and memes.’
Laurence spent a lot of time figuring out how the Instagram algorithm worked, and decided that this was a skill worth monetising.
He realised there were a lot of businesses that simply didn’t have the time to learn and implement these strategies, and so his passion grew into a a business. He developed a set of services and started pitching.
When he turned 16 last year, he was finally able to transition from being a sole trader to turning Greedy Growth into a limited company, of which he is the only director.
In May last year, the business hit over £1,000 for the first time and it almost doubled the next month, with increasing success over the remainder of 2020.
He added: ‘I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur and neither of my parents are. I didn’t even realise what I was doing was entrepreneurial until someone asked me if I considered myself one.
‘However, as the company has grown I have realised that it wasn’t purely my passion that has fuelled it, but also my ambition.
‘I wouldn’t say that there was an individual that inspired me to start, but I do look up to industry leaders, such as marketing big shots Gary Vee and Harry Hugo.’
Vee – real name Gary Vaynerchuk – is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and co-founder of the restaurant reservation software company Resy and Empathy Wines, while Hugo is the co-founder of the social media agency Goat.
Laurence’s passion and eagerness has served him well, and he has now worked with more than 30 brands including independent record label Visionary Music Group and organic food company Ossa Organic.
At just 14, he started working with a major pop culture auction company, taking it from 9,000 followers in early 2019 to 20,000 today.
Laurence says growing up online worked to his advantage when building his company
But how does a teenager have the knowledge and expertise to produce a successful start-up?
While critics would argue social media is dangerous, especially for young people, Laurence believes growing up in a technological world has been the best thing for him.
Platforms such as Instagram have an abundance of features that might seem complicated people but the naturally inquisitive minds of children and teenagers can work them out in minutes.
For example, Greedy Growth’s blog has simple, easy guides on how to use such features such as ‘reels’ and ‘location tags’.
‘I believe growing with technology around me, and adopting social media from a younger age than most people older than me would have done, has been an advantage,’ Laurence said.
‘I had to overcome people’s perceptions’
However, he also insists that the strategies the business implements for its brands are not the sort of thing you ‘can just learn by spending time on social media’ and that he spends countless hours staying on top of the latest trends and techniques.
He added: ‘I’ve learnt that no roadblock is too difficult to work through, and that it is the ability to work past these roadblocks that defines the success of an entrepreneur.
Laurence’s top tips for brands on Instagram
- Use the 30 hashtags you have available on each post for maximum exposure
- Use story highlights to showcase different parts of your brand
- Have a consistent posting schedule, if possible once a day
- Reach out to micro-influencers in your industry to take on as ambassadors
- Go portrait content over landscape as it fills up more of the screens of the mostly mobile phone users
‘In school, you’re taught the solutions, and then given the problems. In business, you’re faced with the problems and then are left to come up with the solutions, and if you’re good at this then you will go far.’
Other challenges Laurence has faced have, understandably, come with being so young.
‘Technically, I can run a business in the United Kingdom at 16,’ he said. ‘But I would say that the downside of being under 18 is from a perception standpoint.
‘When I first started it was hard to be confident because I simply hadn’t been in that environment before talking to business owners, but like all things, you get better with practise.
‘I’m much better at speaking to people and this has enabled me despite my age, to work with some big clients because they are able to trust us.’
Laurence runs Greedy Growth by himself, but when he needs help he can call on his team of freelancers and part-time remote workers who help with everything from community management for clients to customer support.
Covid lessons from outside the classroom
Unlike the subjects he would have learned in the classroom, Covid has taught Laurence a lot about running a business and being an entrepreneur.
He said the biggest lesson he has learnt is that sometimes empathy should come first.
He said: ‘I have given social media help and advice free of charge to some local businesses that were struggling due to Covid-19 and they were extremely grateful, with some even referring me to new clients.
‘In a world where everyone is taking, you should do a bit of giving and just see where it takes you.
‘When businesses sign up to our services they’re investing emotionally in our company as humans, and it’s our duty to make sure they get the best experience they can have.’
Schools have closed for most once again as of 5 January as the nation enters ‘Lockdown 3.0’, and it has been confirmed that this summer’s exams will also be cancelled.
Being in his first year of sixth form, Laurence isn’t seriously impacted by this, but he will continue to scale the business while working hard at school.
‘It’s just about balance and making sure I use my time in the right way,’ he said.
‘Looking into 2021, we’re taking on people to help with the paid media arm of our agency, and are looking to help as many businesses as possible level up their Instagram strategy.’
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