Be consistent and don’t wait – these are the words of one young entrepreneur who made it from business student to business owner and he’s eager to share his top five tips.

Thomas Cheung, from Cumbria, did that one thing we all hope we can manage to do – get a job in the field we’ve studied at university.

Now an owner of two businesses – a thriving tea business, Y-tea, and three cafes, called Déjà Brew – the 26-year-old would seem to have it sorted, but Thomas didn’t just jump into his empire he had to work hard and give it all.

Thomas’ Business Journey

After graduating in 2017 from Northumbria University Thomas had a goal – start his own business. But this isn’t as easy to do as you would think after attaining a good grade from his entrepreneurial business management degree.

Thomas told Freshered he actually had a graduate job with Enterprise, but that wasn’t the direction he wanted to go in so he bit the bullet and left.

He said: ‘I started my business journey when I was 22, after I had left my graduate job at Enterprise Rent a Car.

‘I started Y-tea of the Lake District, a tea blending company and wholesaler. Through Y-tea, I met a lot of amazing people on my business journey and learned more than I could ever hope whether it’s business skills or life skills.’

As the country was on the cusp of the COVID pandemic – which none of us knew at the time – Thomas opened his first cafe, Déjà Brew.

Even with the pandemic Thomas and his staff managed to make it all work and they had such a successful year they opened a second cafe in his hometown and a third in 2022.

Thomas (centre) at the opening of his second cafe. Credit: Thomas Cheung

In an interview Thomas put his success down to the support of his home community saying ‘we are very lucky’, especially after the difficulties posed by COVID restrictions when the country reopened and his unique product.

He said: ‘We are very lucky that we are in such a supportive community, a lot of people visited us as soon as we opened back up and I think it definitely helped the fact that we offer something no other places in Cumbria offer so we would often get customers travelling from Cockermouth and Carlisle for a bubble tea.’

Now Thomas is eager to share the tips and lessons he’s learned on his business journey in hope they can help the next generation of business student.

Thomas’ Top Five Tips:

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