Edward Shorthouse

Enterprise success stories

Edward Shorthouse

  • Studying towards a PhD in Climate Change

What did you study at the University of Exeter?

I’m a PhD student at Exeter researching Climate Change at the Innovation Centre.

What is your business all about?

I’m self-employed under the umbrella of a large international company called Forever Living Products, which grows and produces the world’s purest Aloe Vera health products. What I do is to recommend the products to others and also sponsor and coach new people to build part-time businesses with Forever too. I guess the way I work is a bit like a franchise, but without any of the costs or the risks, and working the hours I want. I love it!

What is your business’s unique selling point? What is your main form of advertising? Who are your main competitors?

Forever Living is the world’s largest grower and manufacturer of aloe vera products, owning around 75% of the world’s commercially-grown aloe vera plants, so there’s no competition.

Unlike almost every other venture out there, starting a business with Forever is risk free and very low cost, as all you have to do is register with the company and get hold of the new distributor pack, which costs £199.75 and has a bunch of products and marketing tools to help you get started. The idea of the pack is to get you familiar with the products so you can recommend them to others, as this is how we market them, through word of mouth, which is the most effective marketing method and doesn’t cost anything!

Finally, Forever has also won the Government’s ‘Investor in People’ Gold award for its support and training, which all distributors who start with the company can access. The training I’ve received from this company has really helped me develop professionally and personally

Where did your idea come from? What is the start-up story behind your business?

I was introduced to this business with Forever by a friend who’s husband was drinking Aloe Vera to help fight his cancer. I had always been looking for a way of being able to earn enough to have a great lifestyle, but without having to work really long hours for the income, like my friends in the city. I saw the opportunity to build a business with Forever, whilst helping others with their health, that would pay me a stable full-time income working part-time hours, and give me flexibility in the future. It is because of Forever that I’ve been able to fulfil my dream of doing a PhD, which is something I never would have had time to do if I had had a ‘normal’ job working for someone else!

Juggling your academic studies with your new business as well as still having a social life must have been a challenge. How did you accommodate the three and what did an average day, if you had one, looked like for you?

I work on my PhD about 7 hours a day during the week. Fortunately, with Forever’s business model I only need to put in about 10 hours a week for my business. That’s not to say it’s easy, but I make sure my time spent on Forever is very focussed. My social life is very active and I am a member of several clubs, (including a Mediaeval sword fighting club!) which is great because half the work with Forever is about meeting new people!

What things helped you learn how to run a new business? Has there been anything or anyone in particular that has helped you along the way?

The biggest help has been the training from Forever, which has taught me how to network, give presentations and build my confidence. Outside of Forever the people I draw inspiration from are Jim Rohn, Robert Kiyosaki and Dr Tom Barrett. If you’ve never heard of these people, you need to Google them!

What support have you received from the University? Were there any particular curricular or extra-curricular activities that were instrumental in you and your business development?

The University have been amazing. In particular they have invited me to attend the careers fairs, given me opportunities to give talks on my business with Forever, and given me a retail stand outside the RAM, where you’ll see me from time to time. The University really encourages students to be entrepreneurial, because in life you have to create your own opportunities, and not rely on others to pay your salary.

What do you think has been your key to success so far?

Attitude! You have to be a positive person and believe you can do it. Surround yourself with other positive people, blank out anything negative, and always have a smile on your face. If you are happy, other people will want to know why, and they’ll want to be around you. If your sole aim is to make money, you won’t find any friends, but if you make friends first, the money will follow.

Have you made any mistakes along the way? If so, what have you learnt from these? And further, if you could go back in time, are there any things that you would change or would do differently?

Loads! It’s not possible to become successful without making mistakes, because you have to try many different things to know what’s going to work. The important thing is not to take rejection personally and admit your mistakes to yourself and others. Be honest about what actions you need to change to become a better person, but don’t dwell on the past because you can’t change it – focus on what you can do today.

What can we look forward to in terms of your business? Have you got any future plans for it?

I know how amazing Aloe Vera products are, and the importance of good nutrition, but not everybody does, and not many people have heard of Forever Living. So by the time I’ve finished my PhD you can expect all the students and staff at Exeter to know about the benefits of aloe, and about the opportunity with this company. Whether or not people will want the products or to get involved with Forever is up to them, but I’m building a team here at the University with some brilliant entrepreneurial students who want to take control of their future, so the future’s bright!

How about yourself? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

That’s an interesting question, because 5 years of dedicated work with Forever is what you need to put in to secure your future financially for the rest of your life. So in five years time I will have helped hundreds of people build their own businesses with Forever, which will set them on their way to financial freedom and better health. By doing this, I will not need to work any more (but I will because I love it!) Forever also take me on two international 5* trips each year – I’ve just come back from a retreat in Sardinia this May, so my goal is to qualify for these trips every year to explore the world, and travel to over 50 countries in the next 25 years.

What advice do you have for University of Exeter students who are looking to start their own business?

Don’t think about it, don’t procrastinate, don’t say ‘what if?’, don’t do any of that – just decide to decide and commit yourself to a consistent level of activity to build your business – figure out how much time you have each week and focus on consistency. And never, ever give up!