Companies kept telling Anthony Henderson that his cerebral palsy meant he could not work delivering mail by van.
But that only made the 22-year-old more determined to show what he could do and three years ago he set up his own courier business in Newcastle.
And now he has been shortlisted among the top 50 business heroes in the country for the Barclays Trading Places Awards and is planning to take on his first member of staff. The awards recognise men and women who have overcome barriers and battled against the odds to change their lives by starting a business.
Anthony, whose company is called Anthony The Courier Man, said: "20 years ago my family was told by doctors that I probably wouldn't be able to walk or talk because of my condition. But my mam has always pushed me to get out there and make things happen."
He says he always loved cars but was discouraged from finding work as a courier despite having a full driving licence and being able to do the job.
"My cerebral palsy only really affects me in my legs," he explained, "but I am perfectly capable of carrying packages to and from my van.
"I found that when I went for jobs people were looking at my disability and saying as nicely as they could that this career wasn't for me. But that made me even more determined to succeed. If you don't try you'll never know."
Thanks to a loan from his mum and advice from start-up support service InBiz on how to set up a business, Anthony was able to invest in a small van and build up a successful business.
He said: "InBiz were helpful because I had no idea about how to set up a company and do the books and they showed me."
He has now done work for major delivery businesses DHL and TNT as a subcontractor and also delivers sandwiches for Deli Jacs (ok) on Westmoreland Road.
Anthony said: "It was incredibly difficult for the first months in business but the work coming through now is more profitable and I am a fully fledged TNT subcontractor. When I work for them I wear the uniform on my rounds.
"If I carry on developing like this I will be able to recruit another person before the end of the year and hopefully buy another van."
Anthony will find out whether he has won a top prize at the Barclays Trading Places, which are supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, Jobcentre Plus and The Prince's Trust, at the final in October.