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Louis Barnett - project managing at any age

In keeping with our belief that a successful project management career can begin at any age, we interviewed young entrepreneur Louis Barnett.

When Louis was diagnosed with dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and short term memory loss at the age of 11, he began to explore the more vocational outlet of chocolate making.

As his knowledge and interest in chocolate developed, he quickly set up his business – Louis Barnett Chocolates – at the age of 12.

Since then Louis’ business has grown rapidly, being the youngest ever supplier to Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Selfridges, and Co-Op, and with his chocolate bars being exported in large volumes across the globe.

Do you feel your age comes into play when conducting business?

“My age used to be a problem, but now I don’t even think about it.

“As long as you know your product, you can be confident that age shouldn’t be a deciding factor.

“You need to have faith in your product and be able to answer any questions that are asked as clearly and passionately as you can.”

How do you set about project managing your team?

“I make sure I involve them in every aspect of the business, and ensure that they feel a part of my journey and not just a member of staff.”

How do you manage budget and time scales?

“This changes from week to week, and needs reassessing constantly.

“The support of every member of your team, especially a small one like ours, to monitor and manage this is crucial.”

At just 12 years old, you were the UK’s youngest entrepreneur, what three main things have you learnt about setting up your own business?

“Firstly, you need to have failed to succeed – that is the only way you learn.

“In the UK in particular I find that people are often more hesitant to talk about their failures, but for me this is how you learn what not to do, and how to move on.

“Secondly you have to be passionate about your business and products and believe in yourself – this is what sustains you when things don’t go well.

“And lastly, learn about and live with delayed gratification – you have to give up a social life and oftentimes friends, and learn to go without to pursue your goal.”

Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

“With a business focused on global export, with retail outlets around the world.”

What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

“The sheer diversity – no two days are ever the same.

“I also love travelling around the world and meeting people you would never normally come across.