You might expect someone known as “the world’s youngest publisher” to change career when he was fired from The Young Apprentice for failing on a publishing task. But not Sean Spooner – this determined teenager used everything he learned to launch an online magazine that’s become a huge success.
You’re Never Too Young To Succeed
Sean’s been in business since he was 11, when he started making money through affiliate marketing on his website. At 14, he and a friend launched a local magazine as part of a school project. They sold advertising and interviewed local celebrities and business owners and the magazine was profitable by the second issue.
In fact, it was such a success they even won a Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and were thought to be the youngest publishers in the world! By the time they called it a day they were printing 5,000 copies of The Corby Magazine every month and had interviewed hundreds of people.
“Sean – you’re fired!”
In 2012 Sean was one of the candidates on The Young Apprentice, where the second task was to produce and sell a cookery book. With such a solid background in publishing, it was no surprise when Sean took on the role of project manager for Odyssey – but the project was a flop when the team ignored feedback from the focus group. Sean had to choose who went back into the boardroom with him – but he took the wrong people and found himself on the end of Lord Sugar’s finger.
Creating Success From Failure
Not deterred by the experience, Sean quickly moved on to greater things, launching Magnate, a men’s magazine, later that year. Initially appearing on newsstands at London’s main railway stations, it later moved online and now gets over 100,000 hits each month. Sean is the editor and he’s interviewed people as famous as Richard Branson, Boris Johnson and Lethal Bizzle as well as his own role model, SBTV owner Jamal Edwards.
Top Tips for Bouncing Back to Success
So how did Sean use his experiences to make his latest venture such a success?
- Take responsibility for your mistakes. Even though Sean wasn’t directly at fault for Odyssey’s failure, he accepted that he’d been a pushover as project manager, and he didn’t try to blame anyone else. Accepting you’ve made a mistake and learning from it is really important.
- Be open to constructive criticism. While Sean failed to take on board the response of the focus group, he says the feedback he got from Lord Sugar in the boardroom was the most useful part of the process. Being open to new ideas is a great way to learn and develop your abilities.
- Focus on the positives. In his “You’re Fired” interview Sean admitted the concept was bad and he’d picked the wrong person to pitch, but he also acknowledged how good the content, photography and production were. Always look for the stuff that worked because that will spur you on next time.
- Never give up. Sean could have given up on publishing and started again in a new industry after such a public failure – but no, he kept his cool, learned from his mistakes and made sure his next project was a success.
As Sean said shortly after getting the boot from the boardroom, “Although Lord Sugar fired me today I think I can walk out of here with my head held high. I’m going to go home and continue working on all the things that I have coming up, and make sure that in five or ten years’ time I’m going to be successful.”
That was just three years ago and, true to his word, Sean kept trying, focused on what worked and put everything he learned into achieving his goals. Sean Spooner is an Unstoppable Teen!