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Inspiring story of 20 year old who quit school for business at 16

A millennial who left school at 16 to start her own business after years of being bullied is celebrating turning over £1million – and her firm is now so successful, she’s hired her mother.

Straight-A student, Liv Conlon, from Bothwell, Glasgow, now 20, admits teachers called her ‘crazy’ and tried to persuade her to go to university when she told them she was dropping out before her final year to launch an interior design company.

But the young entrepreneur, who made £5,000 from her first business importing goods from China and selling them online at 13, was confident about being her own boss, and started ThePropertyStagers, which furnishes empty homes, with no financial backing.

The business made £30,000 in its first year, and turned over £1million in its second, when Liv was just 19. She now furnishes more than 300 properties a year, and has hired a team of 10 people – including her mother Ali, 52, with whom she’s very close, and her brother Jack, 22.

With her income, single Liv has bought and renovated her own one-bedroom flat, which has now doubled in value to £100,000 – all without the help of the Bank Of Mum And Dad.

And she believes being bullied every day at school for four years made her more determined to succeed.A millennial who left school at 16 to start her own business after years of being bullied is celebrating turning over £1million – and her firm is now so successful, she’s hired her mother.

Straight-A student, Liv Conlon, from Bothwell, Glasgow, now 20, admits teachers called her ‘crazy’ and tried to persuade her to go to university when she told them she was dropping out before her final year to launch an interior design company.

But the young entrepreneur, who made £5,000 from her first business importing goods from China and selling them online at 13, was confident about being her own boss, and started ThePropertyStagers, which furnishes empty homes, with no financial backing.

The business made £30,000 in its first year, and turned over £1million in its second, when Liv was just 19. She now furnishes more than 300 properties a year, and has hired a team of 10 people – including her mother Ali, 52, with whom she’s very close, and her brother Jack, 22.

With her income, single Liv has bought and renovated her own one-bedroom flat, which has now doubled in value to £100,000 – all without the help of the Bank Of Mum And Dad.

And she believes being bullied every day at school for four years made her more determined to succeed.A millennial who left school at 16 to start her own business after years of being bullied is celebrating turning over £1million – and her firm is now so successful, she’s hired her mother.

Straight-A student, Liv Conlon, from Bothwell, Glasgow, now 20, admits teachers called her ‘crazy’ and tried to persuade her to go to university when she told them she was dropping out before her final year to launch an interior design company.

But the young entrepreneur, who made £5,000 from her first business importing goods from China and selling them online at 13, was confident about being her own boss, and started ThePropertyStagers, which furnishes empty homes, with no financial backing.

The business made £30,000 in its first year, and turned over £1million in its second, when Liv was just 19. She now furnishes more than 300 properties a year, and has hired a team of 10 people – including her mother Ali, 52, with whom she’s very close, and her brother Jack, 22.

With her income, single Liv has bought and renovated her own one-bedroom flat, which has now doubled in value to £100,000 – all without the help of the Bank Of Mum And Dad.

And she believes being bullied every day at school for four years made her more determined to succeed.

She said: ‘I’ve always known from a very young age that I wanted to have my own business because I don’t take direction very well.

‘When I was at school I always wanted to leave, I never wanted to be there. I just wanted to be in charge of my own life

‘I was very competitive at school, so I was always top of the class, so I guess people are threatened by that, which just brought people to dislike me.

‘In my second to last year I decided to move school because after four years [of being bullied] I’d had enough of it. I decided that I didn’t want these negative people in my life who made me feel terrible every day.

‘It made me more determined. Everyone who’s ever doubted my ability or capability or challenged that have completely put a fire in my stomach to go on and better.

The idea for ThePropertyStagers came about after Liv asked to furnish a property her mother, who ran a successful training business, had been struggling to sell for three months.

They knew about property stagers, but were unable to find an affordable company, so Liv, who was living at home at the time, decided to do it herself.

After Liv decorated the home’s interior with furniture and accessories, it sold within three days, for above the asking price – and the buyer even paid extra for everything in the property too.

Liv, who left school before her final year with five Higher A grades, realised there was a gap in the market, and so the idea for ThePropertyStagers was born.

She said: ‘It was a pretty scary thing to do. I really could have gone on to do anything I wanted at university, so when I put to the school that I wanted to leave before my final year, they called me into the careers office and sat me down and said ‘are you crazy, why are you leaving school when you have the opportunity to do anything you want?’.’

Liv, who works seven days a week and has just won a business award, revealed she first generated clients at local networking events, but admits because she was so young, she wasn’t taken seriously.

She admitted that ‘people probably doubted my ability’, adding: ‘It was quite a challenging environment to go into as the property industry is pretty much male-dominated.

‘It was 50-year-old men, and I was coming in at the time with blonde, long curly hair and I actually looked 16. To start with my age worked against me.

‘A few people probably doubted my ability until I started to get a bit more successful and build up a reputation.’

However, by explaining to potential clients how they could generate more money by selling properties that were ‘staged’ with cushions, throws and furniture, Liv managed to secure her first client.

She said: ‘I started the business with absolutely no start-up funds.

‘I went out to networking events which were free, and spoke to people and I was obviously looking to get business.

‘From there, I was paid by the client for the installation, and then I would use that money to buy all furniture for that property – so the first couple of jobs, I never really made much money because I had to buy the stuff with the money I was charging them.re her first client.

She said: ‘I started the business with absolutely no start-up funds.

‘I went out to networking events which were free, and spoke to people and I was obviously looking to get business.

‘From there, I was paid by the client for the installation, and then I would use that money to buy all furniture for that property – so the first couple of jobs, I never really made much money because I had to buy the stuff with the money I was charging them.

The more installations I got to do, I could recycle the furniture, so that’s when it started to become profitable.’

Liv’s first paid job was staging a one-bedroom flat in Glasgow, which she kitted out with all the Ikea furniture she could fit into the back of her Vauxhall Corsa.

After going it alone, Liv began to see the business start to take off when she became more active on social media.

She said: ‘I used to be a person who posted [on Facebook] only once a year. When I started to post photos of the business, it started to become a lot more successful – people started to know the name and know what I was trying to do.’

Her company became so busy, that Liv was generating enough income to employ her mother as her operations manager. At the time, Ali had her own successful customer service company for the motor industry, which she’d started 15 years ago, but she jumped at the chance to work with her daughter.

Ali, who separated from Liv and Jack’s father three years ago after 25 years of marriage, confessed: ‘It’s never come to blows – and we’ve never left the day not speaking to each other, but obviously there have been some tough days.

‘I think sometimes you say things to each other that you might not say to others because you’re family.

‘You can be very honest with each other and you’re not always diplomatic.

‘But when push comes to shove, Olivia will make the decisions.’

Even though ThePropertyStagers is now enjoying financial success, it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

In the early days, Liv admits she sometimes felt as though she was winging it – and would go to great lengths to save money.

Liv said: ‘I used to hire a man in a van to pick up furniture.

‘There was a sofa I forgot to tell him about, so he was going to charge me £40 to pick it up. I was appalled at that so said I would do it myself.

‘I drove a three-and-a-half hour round trip to fit these sofas in the back of my car, I couldn’t get in the car, spent two hours trying to stuff them in, then I had to carry them up four flights of stairs, all for £40. I must have spent hundreds of pounds trying to get them there.

‘But that’s the stubborn person in me trying to save money when I was just a one-man-band.’

Even though the business is now a huge success, Liv is still very careful with her income. She doesn’t splash her cash on designer clothes and handbags – instead, she reinvests it back into the business, although she does enjoy ‘the odd margarita’.

Liv, who believes millennials are taught to ‘dim our light and not shine so bright’, admits it’s been a ‘long, hard journey’, and working 18-hour days and six or seven days a week has been the norm.

Although as she’s ‘not a party girl’, Liv doesn’t feel as though she’s missed out on socialising, she does believe running her own business has meant she’s had to grow up fast.

She said: ‘I missed out on being young with fewer worries – I could have a lot less worries at this stage [of my life] such as paying staff, and keeping everything going.

‘Running a business, you have quite a lot of responsibilities for other people’s lives as well.’

Her work-life balance has taken its toll on her personal life, though. Liv split with her boyfriend and admits being with someone as determined to succeed as her would take ‘a certain level of person’.

‘When you’re young and you’ve had the success so young, it’s challenging to be with someone and them accept that work is very important to you,’ she said.

Over Christmas, Liv spearheaded the #100HomeChristmasMakeover in Glasgow – making over the homes of 100 families who are living in temporary accommodation.

She said it’s taking part in initiatives like this that make her feel ‘most fulfilled’.

Speaking about her plans for 2019, Liv said: ‘We’ve got massive plans for ThePropertyStagers, and one of those is to double the turnover this year, which is a big challenge. Another plan is to franchise part of the business.’

But something that is close to her heart, is becoming a motivational spokesperson for other young people, to show them that going to university isn’t the only route available after school.

She said: ‘My main mission is to really inspire young people to start business and be entrepreneurial.

‘There’s this real thing about if you’re doing well at school you should be a lawyer or a doctor.
A lot of people I went to school with who had similar grades to me went on to do university courses because their parents wanted them to.

‘I’d love to educate parents and schools that there are other options than going to university. It’s still an option. But you can make a success at starting a business at a young age.’

And if all it went wrong tomorrow, Liv says she would start up another business.

She added: ‘I’ve got the mind-set that I’ve made money once, so I could come up with a new idea, if it did all fail tomorrow, I’m sure I’d find a way to do something else.’

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