BY KERRY ANDERSON
Catching up with CEO and Founder of Youth Leadership Academy Australia, Wil Massara, takes some doing. He is extremely time poor and there are only a few windows of opportunity. But today we have come up with a mutually agreeable time and arranged to meet in the central park at Collie in the south-west region of Western Australia.
School has finished for the day and 15 year old Wil is up for a spearmint milkshake. I’m ready for a double shot espresso as I try to understand what is driving this ambitious young man.
Is this his first business I ask?
‘Well, it’s my first legal business,’ he admits with a smile. Straight away I'm intrigued ... and distracted. Where is this leading?
It turns out that Wil once ordered 100 pens from a promotional company but they failed to arrive on time so he got them for free. Then he ordered another 100 pens and the same happened all over again. To cut a long story short Wil got 200 pens for free and sold them all at $2 each which made him a cool $400 profit.
So, as this story has confirmed, Wil can immediately recognise an opportunity and go for it. Tick!
By now the milkshake is gone and I’ve barely started on my expresso. It’s time to get down to business, his new legal one that is.
The recent launch of the Youth Leadership Academy Australia has created much interest and Wil admits that he’s also been interviewed by the local newspaper. ‘Why has he started it?’ is the question burning on everyone’s lips.
‘I saw a gap in the education system,’ Wil explains. ‘We’re not being taught the skills we need for the future, only for the jobs of today and the past. Young people are being trained to work for someone else and not focussing on the necessary life skills to be successful.’
Wil’s vision is to provide one to two day conferences, seminars and workshops especially for young people, aged 15 to 18 years, with nationally renowned speakers and life strategists. The very first Western Australian Youth Conference is being planned for the 28 August and tickets are priced at the incredibly low price of $20 per person.
‘I need 77 people to break even,’ he confirms when I ask about his budget. Even so I am still dubious, until he reveals that he is seeking corporate sponsorship to keep the costs down for students. For instance, the speaker, Anna Richards, is flying to Perth and speaking pro bono as a very special favour to Wil.
Sensing another opportunity, Wil quickly adds 'if anyone would like to sponsor the Youth Leadership Academy Australia, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.'
There could be many who doubt Wil’s capacity as a student to establish a successful business, however, he has had plenty of help along the way. Let’s start with his mum who dropped him off for the interview. I suggest that he may have to put her on staff but he is quick to dismiss that notion. Secretly I hope she reads this interview and commences negotiations!
Then, there is the Collie & Districts Community Branch of Bendigo Bank that sponsored him to attend the ‘Magic Moments’ event for young achievers in 2016. Through the Magic Moments network Wil connected with his mentor, Andrew Daley from Singapore who helped him with the business plan. He has also partnered up with a fellow delegate, 19 year old Maddy Hedderwick, who has taken on the role of Operations Manager as she works her way through a double major in Management and Sports Science at university.
Utilising his own technology skills, Wil has established the business website. In short, he has only had to pay $88 to register the business and $100 to set up the website. Hmm I can see where the $400 profit from his ‘first business’ has come in useful.
Time management is essential. ‘I have a very strict schedule,’ Wil reveals. ‘Set times for study, personal development and business.’ I assume this interview falls into the business timeslot.
Wil comes from a business orientated family and everything he is doing at school is aimed at building his business skills. He is studying Business Management and undertaking a Certificate III in Business.
‘My aim is to benefit society,’ Wil explains; ‘but I also want to have a profitable business. If you only have enough money for yourself then you are selfish.’
That is probably the best explanation I’ve ever heard of why a business should be profitable, and I heard it from a 15 year old student in rural Australia!
Maybe our future is brighter than I thought.
KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE