Below is a story written by a fellow entrepreneur, Jason O’Neill.
You don’t have to wait until you’re older, have finished college, or have a degree to start a business. In fact, there are really no age requirements or restrictions for becoming an entrepreneur. The main thing is to want to do something! You can’t get anywhere by sitting on your ideas.
When I was nine, my mom was painting some wooden doorstoppers to sell at a craft fair. I thought that if I helped her paint them, she would share the money she made with me. Mom told me that I had to come up with my own idea so I did.
I really had no idea what to make so I just started drawing out different designs on paper. After many ideas, some good and some not-so-good, Pencil Bugs were born. With $10 of my own money, I bought the supplies needed to make a couple of dozen. They all sold out at the craft fair so I was pretty happy.
Several weeks later, I made a few more and took them to school. Kids starting buying them a lot. After I saw how much kids liked them, I thought this might actually make a good business. Since minors can’t sign legal documents, my parents signed for a business license, tax ID, and the other legal things.
Right away, I started donating some of my money to help foster kids in our community and was awarded the Young Philanthropist Award for my charitable efforts. After two years of donating to the foster agency, I started buying toys, games, books, and other activities and delivered them to kids at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA every quarter. For Christmas 2009, I’ve already started a Rady Bear project where I hope to raise enough money to buy 250 bears for kids at the hospital.
A few months after Pencil Bugs became an official business, I was doing lots of interviews for different media. It was really fun. Then at age eleven, I was the youngest to win the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. At twelve, Forbes named me to their first Top 10 List of Role Models 18 & Under. I could hardly believe they included me since the list also had major celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Nick Jonas.
I always say my business kind of started by accident but thank goodness things happened the way they did. I have had so many opportunities and fun experiences because of it. But even with the extra time it takes, I still have lots of time to be a regular kid which is really important.
To read more about my business or my Christmas Rady Bear project, please visit my website at www.pencilbugs.com. -Jason