Jamal Edwards shares top tips for success


YouTube star Jamal Edwards MBE shared the advice which helped him to be one of the UK’s most successful young entrepreneurs.

Jamal, whose YouTube channel SBTV was the first to give a platform to musicians like Tinchy Stryder, Rita Ora and Ed Sheeran has won millions of loyal followers and has some of the world’s biggest brands wanting to work with him.

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He was at Leicester’s Cultural eXchanges festival where he shared his journey and advice on how to be a success in business and life.

In conversation with De Montfort Students’ Union vice-president Derrick Mensah, Jamal explained how the inspiration for SBTV came from his own frustration at not being able to see his favourite bands and artists online.

He said: “I was 15, and there was nowhere that these artists were being played online, the mainstream weren’t showing them. I started to film them and soon I had lots of people in the underground scene who were asking to be on the channel. I always tried to put talent out there.”

He’s used his status to speak out about issues like mental health among musicians, who are three times more likely than the general public to have depression or anxiety.

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The hour-long Q&A was absolutely packed with top tips for entrepreneurs of any age, and Jamal generously shared his time with people looking to get their ideas off the ground.

Here are some of his top tips below:

HAVE A DAY JOB (you can always leave later!)
Jamal worked at Topman for four years, using the money he earned to buy cameras and mics and kit he needed for SBTV. As the channel grew in popularity, fans discovered his day job and went to the branch he worked at. “My manager was like, why are they following you?” he laughed. But he encouraged people wanting to start their own business to do it as a side hustle rather than try to go all in right away. He said: “I didn’t have the advantage of money to get me started so I kept saving, I spent four years putting my savings into SBTV.”

Jamal said he would spend hours trying to guess the email addresses of senior executives at companies he wanted to work with, and would call and pester people for meetings. “Now I’ve got an MBE, it’s a lot easier, but back then I was a kid and I was relentless but I think people liked that about me. Everyone always had the time of day for me.”

One of his first investors in SBTV was a friend of his mum. And when Jamal wanted to win a competition to meet Richard Branson, he asked everyone he knew in Acton to vote for him. He won – and got an invite to his house. Now he counts Branson as a friend.

“I was waiting five years for 100 million views,” he said. “There was a time when I thought maybe I would stop SBTV and become a manager at Topman but something told me not to give up.

“If you have lots of ‘yes people’ around you, you will get lost. If I go to “celebrity” events – and to be honest people like Ed and Rita they’re like my friends anyway, but like a red-carpet event I always bring my oldest friends, from school. They know me and they help keep me real. I have something on my phone: have three types of people in your life: the dreamer, to help you think positive; the hard worker, to keep you pushing, and the realist, to keep you on the ground.”

Posted on Monday 4th March 2019

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