A TRULY INSPIRATIONAL BUSINESS JOURNEY STARTED AT ONLY 15 YEARS OF AGE
Stephen Fear was interviewed by Simon Scott-Nelson for Wellity, you can see the interview below. Wellity is a fitness clothing and lifestyle brand. For more information about Wellity please click here.
Bristol-born Dr. Stephen Fear first went into business at the age 15 after reading an article in the Financial Times that would affect the way industrial ovens were cleaned. He used a red phone-box on the council estate where he grew up and persuaded an American firm to send him its product for him to sell in the UK. Before he knew it, he was trading with a number of large industrial companies under the brand ‘Easy Clean’. Four years later, Stephen sold his first business for £100,000 and invested the money in property.
Now Stephen is Chairman and Founder of Fear Group, an international organisation he runs with his son, Leon Fear. Fear Group has interests in strategic land promotion, international property development and investment.
After starting his business aged only 15, Stephen is a massive role model to us. The children took Dr. Stephen Fear on a trip down memory lane to learn what similarities there were then and also what would be different about starting the business now as opposed to 50 years ago.
We want Wellity ambassadors, young and old to embrace life, take on challenges in light of adversity and come to the table with a solutions rather than problems. That is why we’re proud to say that Stephen is our role model. He did all this and so much more.
It really is marvellous that you are so strongly interested in wellness, business, and importantly your community.
You all are so important to the future success of the United Kingdom as you represent a younger generation who are in essence, the future. Thank you all for being interested in my life and what I have to say, I am humbled by your approach. I hope my answers help you going forward with your own lives and to become the successful people you are surely capable of becoming. I always think that if you have a good product or service that you truly believe in then you owe it to yourself & the world to let everyone know about it, so good luck with your relaunch. It will be fine.
Dr. Stephen Fear, The Phonebox Millionaire
OUR INTERVIEW WITH THE PHONEBOX MILLIONAIRE…
Q: What problems did you encounter as it seems that you had no fear of rejection – what a valuable lesson! Nowadays everyone seems to care so much about what people think … why do you think you weren’t phased?
A: I always believed that I was as good as anyone but not better than everyone so that helped me believe that any obstacle could be overcome and if for some reason it couldn’t then I would just do something else. Like you I was young with my life in front of me so felt that I could always have another go.
Q: We have mobile phones, the internet, social influencers …. so how different would it have been starting your first company in todays world?
A: Starting now would be quite a lot easier because of the availability of cheap communication tools which allows access to the whole world. It is possible to sit in a cafe with one drink and use their internet for free. Using FaceTime & headphones contacting someone in America or Brazil is simple & essentially free. When I started phones, especially for kids from poorer areas weren’t readily available. I had never used a phone until I went into the red Phonebox just before my 15th birthday which is where my story began. I would sit on a stool next to the Phonebox in the rain waiting for calls whereas today I would merely wait in Starbucks or Costa where it would be warm & dry. Finance was also another issue. Obtaining finance unless you had some sort of security was virtually impossible. Today of course there is crowdfunding & various other forms of startup capital available.
Q: Did you miss out on anything as a 15 year old when starting a business? What did you sacrifice?
A: I don’t think that I sacrificed much from the age of 14 or 15 because I became engrossed in business and had many friends and associates so my social life was pretty good actually. Prior to that and because of my background my formal education suffered but I overcame that by being an avid reader. I have read about 50 books a year since I was six or seven years old. I have always believed that knowledge is a major source of wealth.
Q: What did your friends think of you as a teenager?
A: I have always had lots of friends basically because I like people and love my family and friends. I still have friends from over 50 years ago and still have people working with me from that time too.
Q: What did your first deal feel like … did you celebrate it?
A: My first deal probably happened much earlier, maybe around the age of 11 or 12 so I probably celebrated by buying some sweets for me & a marrow bone for my German Shepherd called Duke. At that time he was my best friend and went everywhere with me. When I sold my first business when I was 19 I bought a Jaguar car which I later replaced with a Rolls Royce.
Q: Who was your business role model? Were any other kids helping you?
A: My role model was Ivanhoe! He was a fictional knight of King Arthur’s round table who fought to save villagers & people in distress from tyrants. He wasn’t a businessman but nonetheless he stood as a principled leader which appealed to me as a child and still does actually. I believe that making money is good but doing it in a way which benefits the wider community as well just seems right to me. I enlisted the help of several kids on the council estate where I lived.
Q: As a teenager facing all the usual life changes, was there a time when you had enough and wanted to stop? What made you carry on?
A: I never wanted to stop. I had a rather difficult and somewhat chaotic childhood so found that business gave me the anchor I needed to progress. I have always loved starting new projects.
Q: Did you learn lessons from business that you couldn’t learn from school?
A: I learned lots of life lessons. Things like always being consistent. Always turning up and always doing what I say I will do. It’s essential that people know they can rely on you or they will not consider you worthy of leadership. As a business person it is essential that you develop leadership qualities.
Q: Should more positions of power and trust be given to children?
A: Children by definition are the future of humanity and in fact the world so developing responsible children will in turn develop responsible adults so I believe children should be given some power over their futures. I always gave Leon the opportunity to develop at his own pace whilst knowing that I trusted and believed in him. You will need to ask him whether I did a good job or not. He is the only one who can truthfully answer that question.
Q: Do you know that you are a role mode to children and what one piece of advice would you give to our generation who have similar aspirations?
A: Be authentic! Be you. You are special because you have a brain & therefore ultimate power over your thoughts. Always remember that you are as good as anyone but not better than everyone. Have confidence in your own ability but avoid arrogance & when ( not if ) you become successful hold out a hand to help those still trying.