So you didn’t get the grade you wanted at A-level. What can you do now? First of all, take a deep breath. Just because you didn’t get the grade you were expecting, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a successful professional.
This year’s results show that the proportion of students passing their A-levels dropped for the first time in three decades, according to a report published by The Telegraph. The numbers published on A-level Results Day reveal that 26% of exam papers were graded at least an A this year, down from the 26.3% achieved last summer.
However, you probably know by now that many successful personalities – even millionaires and billionaires – laughed in the face of adversity when confronted with this kind of academic challenge. Actually, the following list is composed of people who became extremely successful without passing their A-levels (source: The Independent):-
Branson left famous public school Stowe when he was only 16 years old to set up a record company. That same company was the foundation of the massive corporation we now know as Virgin Group, which includes over 400 brands. He even owns a space shuttle and an island in the Caribbean.
The British journalist was probably crushed when he got the results from his A-levels over the course of two sittings: on his first attempt, he got a C and a fail in English and Geography; a year later, he got a D and an E in Economics and Law. He actually ended up going to Liverpool University, but was banned for taking part in an anti-Apartheid protest. However, today is a famous journalist and presenter, currently working for ITN.
Although Deborah Meaden didn’t even try to pass her A-levels, that didn’t stop her from studying business at Brighton Technical College. The English businesswoman ended up running a multi-million pound family holiday business and building a net worth of £40 million, but she is currently best known for her participation in the show Dragon’s Den.
Sir Alan Sugar, the famous telly mogul, is one of the best examples of how a young boy without A-levels can become extremely successful. He left school at 16 and created his own business selling electrical goods out of the back of his van. Today he is a business magnate, media personality, and political advisor, so it’s safe to assume that A-levels are not indispensable in order to become successful.
If you like chocolate, you have probably tried some of Green & Black’s products. But did you know that the brand’s founder and owner of a millionaire business never got her A-levels? Jo Fairley actually left school when she was 16 years old, but today she is not only a recognised chocolateur and entrepreneur, but also an author and a former magazine editor for Cosmopolitan.
And these are just five great examples of successful people that didn’t even look back when they decided not to take the A-levels or simply flunked the tests.
Of course, the reality is that not every one of us can become a millionaire. All these people had great business ideas and even they struggled to be successful. However, after a lot of hard work and faillures, they eventually came good. But what if you don’t have a good business idea? Don’t worry! Franchising can offer you great options for your future.
Becoming part of the franchising industry allows you to be your own boss and manage your own business with minimum risk and constant support from the brand you decide to work with. Actually, over 90% of franchisees in the UK reported profitability in 2013, according to a survey produced by the British Franchise Association and NatWest. On the other side, 8 out of every 10 new businesses fail in the first 18 months (source: Forbes).
When you buy a franchise, you become part of a team that trains, guides and supports you based on a proven business model, but that also allows to run your own business, hire your own team and work flexible hours. If you’re curious about this possibility, try our free 2 Minute Matching Service.
You never know: this could be the first step towards success and the beginning of a great life.
The judging for the bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year Awards is taking place soon, so as one of the panel of judges, I thought it might be an idea to provide some tips about how to present your case in the best possible way.
Our awards allow finalists 15 minutes to present to the judges, followed by a further 15 minutes for the panel to ask questions. Make sure you have a practice run through and stick to the timings. If you overrun, you could get cut off before you get a chance to tell the judges everything you need to put your case.
You won’t be able to tell the judges everything about your business in just 15 minutes so focus on the key areas which support your case to win the award you are shortlisted for.
Franchising businesses all have something in common – the franchise owners. Sometimes franchisors will make their entry all about how successful they are, without even mentioning the people who contribute to that success! Tell the judges about how your support or initiatives have benefited your franchisees.
If you are talking about a successful marketing campaign, for instance, provide the results so that the judges can clearly see the impact of your actions.
Don’t make your presentation too bland or dull – you love your business so make sure that comes across to the panel of judges.
The judges know that even experienced franchisors can find it nerve-wracking to present in front of the panel so don’t let that worry you. Just prepare beforehand, practice so you get the timings right and enjoy telling the judges about your success and why your franchise should win the award!
HSBC was delighted to sponsor the bfa’s Scottish Franchise Week this year, alongside Platinum Wave Limited. As part of the week, the Business Breakfast in Glasgow has been a ‘must attend’ event in the calendar for a number of years now.
There are always things to learn from the speakers and this year’s event really delivered some strong messages that everyone in franchising and business can take away.
First up on stage was Trevor Brocklebank, CEO of Home Instead Senior Care, the 2013 bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year. Trevor and his wife Sam, brought the Home Instead Senior Care brand over from the US and set about growing their UK network in this highly regulated sector where quality service is absolutely vital.
There were plenty of learning points to take from his presentation but the key one I took away was that in spite of the huge amount of regulation in the care sector, Home Instead Senior Care have just 14 mandatory standards for franchisees to adhere to. But those standards are the core to everything they do, and if a franchisee fails on even one, it is not acceptable. It made such perfect sense – as the more standards there are, the more likely it is that franchisees will end up with different priorities and interpretation. With 14 clear and non-negotiable core standards, everyone knows what they need to do.
We then heard from Lisa Tobias, inspirational young Domino’s Pizza franchisee, who bought her first store at the age of 23. Lisa told her story of gymnastic success and winning accolades from an early age. Going to university was what everyone expected and it was a major step when she decided that it just wasn’t for her, dropping out of university to concentrate on making her part time job with Domino’s her career.
Lisa quickly proved that she had made the right decision, winning numerous awards and promotions before buying her first store. Disaster struck, when on taking over the store, 24 of the 30 staff decided that they didn’t want to stay and she had to recruit her own team from scratch. But this proved a blessing in disguise as together they built a fantastic team based on customer service, hard work and success. Lisa got them to answer the phone with a cheery ‘yeeeeee haaaa’ which got the store talked about, customers laughing, and set the tone for an energetic, fun shift every day.
Lisa now has 7 stores and juggles life with her husband who has joined her in the business and their two small children, whilst still taking part in gymnastics at a high level – superwoman indeed! But her key message was a simple one – believe in yourself and work hard to make it happen.
Our final speaker was Gordon Sheddon, British Touring Car Champion in 2012, joining John Cleland and Jim Clark as the only Scottish drivers to win the overall championship title. Gordon discussed his life in the fast lane and the trials and tribulations he went through before winning his title. He’d decided at a young age that driving was for him but of course it is not a cheap pastime, so sponsorship funding was needed. He had lots of success but also had a couple of hammer blows when at the last minute, his drive was taken away or sponsorship lost. Each time, he had to pick himself back up and use his networks to pick up a drive and get back into contention.
His was a fast paced, high octane session and his enthusiasm and love for his sport were evident, bringing with it a great message for everyone whatever their business – perseverance is the key to getting what you want.
So, a great Scottish Business breakfast and I think one that we will all have taken some great messages from. My top three?
And as Lisa said, ‘the harder you work, the luckier you become’… words to live by.