Season 1, Episode 21
Carl Hewitt, Inspirational Digital Marketing Agency Founder & CEO
Welcome to a truly inspiring and motivating episode of Pitch Masters with Carl Hewitt, a young CEO of a digital marketing agency who founded the company when he was just 17 years old. He tells me the struggles he’s overcome with age bias, how he’s grown a business from door-to-door selling, how we can all use personas properly to win over an audience, how small tests always win the day, how he handled a mid-pitch panic attack, and how the dream of taking his mum to Rome has driven him towards success.
Starting a business is a formidable undertaking, requiring dedication, perseverance, and a clear vision. For young entrepreneurs, embarking on this journey can be particularly challenging, as they often face unique struggles and biases in the modern world.
Carl Hewitt, like so many of us out there (including yours truly), didn’t naturally take to the structure of standard education in school. He wanted to make a business for himself, and, after a few attempts, started a performance marketing and web agency in Portsmouth. Carl was 17 at the time and still in college, and in this episode of Pitch Masters, he tells me his inspirational story of growing a business from scratch with no experience, no clients, and no investment.
One of the most significant challenges that young business founders encounter is the perception of their age and lack of experience. Potential investors, partners, and clients may question their ability to lead and make informed decisions due to their relative youth. Carl tells me a story about being turned away when meeting a client face-to-face for the first time after fostering an incredibly strong relationship via phone and email. “I didn’t know you were this young” was the statement. This can be disheartening, but at the same time, you don’t need clients who are making business decisions on these kinds of biases. As I said to Carl – it was the prospect’s loss. In fact, in today’s world, the unique relationship with technology and social media that the younger generation has can often outweigh the lack of industry experience.
Beyond biases, establishing a business often demands financial resources, and young founders may face limitations in this area. Banks and investors may be hesitant to provide funding to individuals with limited credit history or assets. If you’re a young entrepreneur, then don’t lose hope. Carl tells me how determination, hard work, and a plan can overcome this. Carl began with a local campaign, flyering, knocking on doors, cold calling, and telling everyone he knew in his limited network. Once you get a sale, you can build on this to get the next, and before you know it, you have a business with clients.
No matter how old you are, mental health needs to be a constant consideration in your business endeavours – for yourself and for your new staff. This does not mean that you should shy away if you are dealing with anxiety, depression, neurodivergence, or any other perceived hindrances – as long as you know yourself and you know how to recognise and deal with the symptoms. Carl tells me the story of having a panic attack at a young age in the middle of a pitch. Did he run out of the room with his head spinning? No. He took the courageous step to announce it to his prospect. He took the time. He was honest. He rebalanced himself, continued the pitch, and won the work. I wish everyone could find it within themselves to take this approach. You do not need to suffer in silence, and you do not need to pretend that everything is ok.
Carl also touches on a point that comes up time and time again on Pitch Masters; the importance of mentors. No one expects a 17-year-old to have the answers, and you shouldn’t expect that of yourself. Find a mentor – this is as easy as asking someone more experienced for some of their time – and be open to guidance and advice from people who have already had a similar journey. You’ll be amazed at how many people LOVE to mentor if you are proactive and ask.
While the path of entrepreneurship is riddled with challenges for individuals of all ages, young business founders face unique struggles and biases in the modern world. Overcoming these hurdles requires resilience, adaptability, and the ability to challenge societal preconceptions. By recognising and addressing these biases head-on, we can foster an environment that encourages and supports the growth of young entrepreneurs, empowering them to shape the future of business and innovation.
Carl taught me so much and is a true inspiration to anyone looking to start their own business – no matter what age you are.
Carl is the Managing Director at Hewitt Matthews – A paid media agency and web agency providing a range of interlinking services to improve a company’s online presence, image and reach, as well as generating valuable sales opportunities. Find out more about the business at hewittmatthews.co.uk, or connect with Carl on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/carl-hewitt.
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