Starting a business is no mean feat. It always seemed like a bit of an ‘impossible dream’ to me; as if those who did it somehow had a ‘cheat sheet’ or boundless amounts of energy beyond the comparison of us mere mortals.
It’s only recently that my brain has twigged the little things, and the realization that everything has to come from somewhere. For some reason, I’d blocked my mind to that sense (perhaps an example of self-preservation on my part, whereby I could tell myself that I wasn’t born with the mind of a business owner and so never feel the pressure of performance).
But as I started working more and taking on more and more responsibilities, projects and whatnot, I began to see just how much can come from a little idea and some determination.
Obviously, skill and knowledge is needed, but get the right people on board and your drive can do wonders.
Even being a 90’s kid put limitations on any half-hearted business ventures I had myself as a child. Lack of internet and savvy meant that the most money I ever made using my baby brain was by making little parrots out of ironing beads and selling them for 20p a bird, for my fellow classmates to attach to their shoulders with sellotape. We were an odd looking bunch – at least until the school began to wise to the many kids making money from selling marbles and Pokémon cards and banned ‘gambling’.
Today, it’s all a little different. There are no age limits to entrepreneurship.
The emergence of the internet means that children can reach to the far corners of the earth with their ideas and products, and reap the rewards easily. I’ve come across a number of impressive little entrepreneurs – some whose preoccupations are money, and others (my favourites, I must say) do it for the sheer fun, and because they have the imagination.
Here are just a few examples:
1) This great 9 year old, Caine Monroy, went viral last year with his elaborate, fully functioning cardboard arcade. Basically, the kid had the idea, for the sheer joy of it, to make his favourite arcade games out of cardboard while his dad was working in his shop. Attaching calculators to each game so that the ‘Fun Pass’ offered for 500 turns can be authenticated.
The great thing about the video on YouTube is that it shows the complete dedication of this kid to his work. His fans started a college fund for Caine, and have so far raised $57,000! Even better, he’s inspired the Imagination Foundation – set up to “find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in kids”.
2) Again, a 9 year old, but this time hailing from Britain – Henry Patterson (pictured below) has been named ‘Britain’s youngest entrepreneur’ as he is seen setting up his third business. He started his first venture aged seven selling manure, and is now working on his online sweet shop called ‘Not Before Tea’. And, it seems, he gets his passion for spreadsheets and logo design from his parents – his mother owns an online confectionery store and his father works in marketing.
Quite clearly a brilliant business mind, but something needs to be done about who is dressing this kid.
3. 15 year old Leanna Archer may not be considered a ‘child entrepreneur’ but she decided to become a hair mogul at 11, and so that qualifies her. Either way, she’s certainly got a good head on her shoulders. Or a good head of hair.
Having been complimented on her thick and luscious hair, she decided to start selling her own hair care products, created using a family recipe and free of potential harmful chemicals. Last year alone, the company pulled through revenues of more than $100,000.
One of the incredibly intelligent phrases to come out of this young entrepreneur’s mouth was “I had nothing to lose, because I figured that if it didn’t work out I still had my whole life ahead of me.”
Perhaps the beauty of child entrepreneurs is the financial support available – either from sponsors keen to invest or from the parents. But either way, it’s an admirable view to have.
4. I thought I’d end this short list with one of the most impressive young entrepreneurs who has been trending on Twitter over the last few days. Nick D’Aloisio from London, creator of ‘Summly’ has just sold his Smartphone app to Yahoo for a reported $30 million. And he’s only 17.
As you boil with jealousy at this figure and the clear intelligence and determination of this young businessman (I’m with you on that), let me bombard you with more impressive information. He started the app in his bedroom at aged 15 after revising for a history exam and dreaming up the mobile software as a solution to the problem of having to search through reams of information. As well as taking the exam, he also created a prototype of an app which distills news stories into chunks of text readable on small smartphone screens. And now he’s a multi-millionaire, and Yahoo’s youngest employee.
His words of wisdom? “The money is there, waiting to be invested in things like this.”
So, I give you some of the teeny-tiny triumphs of that generation. Enough to make you want to hoick up your suit tails and don a plastic hat, or something similar, to try to get the child-like creative juices flowing, isn’t it? Either that, or cry into your (grown up and very important) spreadsheet.
But ultimately, the point of this post was to show you that everything starts small; ideas, inventors and even entrepreneurs.
Take a look around, and think big! It might take you somewhere you’d never considered before.