With so many options available to young adults, it’s hard to know what you want to do when you grow up.


Do you go to college, university or go straight for an apprenticeship? How do you get your dream job? What even is your dream job? Do you choose to do a B-Tech or A-levels? Do you choose a gap year before university, during or even after?


Students barely turn 16 and are suddenly faced with massive, life-changing decisions that help navigate the course of their lives. It can be overwhelming, especially for young adults that don’t even know what options are out there.

At age 15, Joe Yates, a marketing entrepreneur, was inspired by The National Enterprise Challenge to follow his dream of running his own business.

Today the 20-year-old is at the helm of Unknown Marketing, a digital marketing agency which specialises in social media. The company is now on track to turnover more than £300,000 in its third year of business.

When asked about how he got to the fortunate position of running his own business, he said:

“I always knew I wanted to run my own business from a young age, and I was wondering what product I could create. Would it be the next watch brand, would it be the next clothing brand? I couldn’t come up with any ideas and so I carried on at school and I got a job at 14. 

Experiencing TNEC in 2015 at school, however, was an experience I will never forget. Having the opportunity to design a product for a real-life brand is something that you only dream of as a young person looking to enter the world of business. The skills you develop from that day are so valuable, from idea generation, to coming up with the strategic approach to sell the product, these are skills that us employers look for in our up-and-coming talent.

I will always remember
 the creative ideas that our year group came up with when designing the school bag for Ryman. The challenge inspires creativity and helps you to think like an entrepreneur by creating concept designs and strategies in how and why your product will be a success.

Despite not winning in our year group, I knew the team who got the chance to go to the National TNEC Finals. The feedback from my friends and the teachers who went was astounding and getting the chance to pitch to Theo Paphitis is something that not many people receive. However, more importantly, learning the skills to pitch an idea is incredibly valuable in any job you go into, not just when you are an entrepreneur.

I always wanted to work and earn, starting as a pot wash and then climbing up to the front of house, where I loved working with customers and helping people.

I was also really into cycling which led me to get a job at a bike shop. One morning while working in the bike shop the owners told us that if the shop didn’t meet it’s targets it may have to close down. 

At this point I knew I had to help! – So, I went away and came back with a plan to help gain more customers through social media”.

Whilst working in the bike shop Joe went away to work on a social media proposal for the owners, which led to him finding his passion: helping businesses reach their full potential with the power and influence of social media marketing.

In September 2018, using the skills Joe developed over the years of working in different part-time jobs, as well as being part of The National Enterprise Challenge, Joe set up Unknown Marketing.

In its first year, Unknown Marketing turned over just £24,000 whilst Joe was still studying for his A-Levels. Now the business has a team of 7, who work with a 50-strong portfolio of clients – including The Inspirational Learning Group, Gira International, Out of Hours AV, Control4 and WattShop.

When asked what advice Joe has for young and aspiring entrepreneurs he said:

“Do what you love. If there is no passion, you won’t have any drive for it. Doing something you love is the drive and motivation you need when you work for yourself or for any business. It doesn’t matter what it is you’re doing, as long as every day at work you are enjoying yourself…That way, no day is a workday.”