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I dropped out of uni at 19 and built $1m business from my bedroom

Many think a degree, and the debt that comes with it, is the path to success. Not this young entrepreneur.

I was just 19 years old when I decided to swap my double-degree in business and computer science for building my own business.

Why did I drop out? It wasn’t from a lack of achievement, but because I believed that spending the next two years building a business venture would be a better use of my time than finishing my degree.

So I took a leap (despite the hit on my wasted $27,000 HECS debt) and ventured into the unknown. It paid off. Over the past four years, I have built one of Australia’s leading influencer agencies: Reilly Talent.

Young businessman Taylor Reilly sitting on a boat.
Taylor's business looks after some of the best content creators in Australia. (Instagram)

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My journey, far from the conventional route of university education, taught me invaluable lessons about success, relationships, and innovation in the modern business world.


Here are the key life, and business, lessons I learned along the way.

Lesson one: Quick wins are a mirage

The allure of instant success is tempting, but misleading. My experience has solidified a crucial understanding that achievement stems from patience and the meticulous construction of a stable foundation.

In business, and in life, the most significant accomplishments don’t come from fleeting victories but from sustained effort and resilience.

Much like going to the gym, consistent commitment is key.

Also by Taylor Reilly:

Quick wins might sparkle with immediate gratification, but they often lack the depth and resilience required for long-term sustainability. It's the slow, steady, and often unglamorous work behind the scenes that builds empires.

This was this principle that helped me build my business from my bedroom to what it is today.

Lesson two: The currency of relationships is extremely valuable

I was extremely lucky to figure out a fundamental secret to corporate success early on in my business venture.

A few years ago, my first talent, comedy creator Adam Milardovic, and I sat down to talk about working with our first few brands.

Creators are notoriously difficult to work with so, to overcome that issue, we decided we would focus on building relationships: we wanted to ensure we were easy to work with, acted honestly and in good faith, and over-delivered anywhere we could.

It wasn’t an easy beginning and it took several months until our blind faith gained us any traction. But before long, our trustworthy relationships grew and repeat business came more frequently.

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The true backbone of any lasting venture is its relationships. Strong, trust-based partnerships with influencers, brands, and clients have propelled my company forward. The earnings that follow are simply a by-product.

As the saying goes: "the more you chase money, the more it'll run away from you."

My advice? Be someone people want to work with and put meaningful relationships before money.

Lesson three: Stay relevant

In an age dominated by rapid technological development, hard work alone is no longer enough. Staying ahead means constantly moving forward and adapting to the evolving digital landscape.

Probably my favourite forward-thinking Elon Musk quote about dinosaurs feels extremely relevant here: "If only they had spaceships, they'd still be around."

I’m always shocked every time I ask business owners how they’re using AI and they laugh me out the door.

My advice? In today’s environment, it's crucial to distinguish between business and impactful work. Leveraging technology to streamline your operations, reach new audiences, and enhance your service offerings is key to staying relevant and competitive.

It’s worth remembering that, for a lot of people, university is the right fit to develop the correct and niche skills needed for the career path they want to go into.

But, in my experience as an entrepreneur, time is your greatest resource and the path to success is carved by those who dare to dream big, value the relationships they forge, and innovate relentlessly.