What was your first business? How old were you when you started it?


0

Listening to Mixergy interviews I am always fascinated with how many entrepreneurs started their first businesses when they were really young.

I hope to get responses of the first registered business that you started.

Business

asked Nov 24 '09 at 06:11
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Usman Sheikh
1,728 points

7 Answers


4

I opened my first business last year when I was 21 years old. Before that I had worked for a few small business's and felt comfortable with the fact that owning a business is a lot of work. Many young entrepreneurs seem to think owning a business is 99% doing the services that you offer when in reality it is more like 50% client work and 50% administration.

I did not realize how hard it is to attract clients and get paid for the work you do!

Tools that make my life easier:

  • LinkedIn because it allows me to find clients and colleagues.
  • Wordpress for reaching out to the community and increasing my search rankings.
  • Freshbooks for my invoicing because it makes it so easy.
  • Friends to collect my debts!
answered Nov 24 '09 at 06:22
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Montana Flynn
323 points
  • Great stuff. Great to see that you have your paper work well organized. This is something that one rarely sees in younger companies that haven't really focused on their processes. Wishing you the best of luck with your venture. – Usman Sheikh 9 years ago

2

My first business was ATP Productions, a one-man (well, technically, kid) shop that built a pretty cool (as I remember it!) shell for MSDOS-based 286-era computers. It had all sorts of cool features like encrypting the FAT so that even if someone booted from a floppy, your files were safe (BIOS things like boot order and passwords were not common in those days). I think it even had a "program installer" that would copy files from floppy disks and automatically install them on the menus, etc.

I don't even remember how old I was... 13... 15 maybe?

My friend (kinda funny to think about now) also had a software company and built the stupidest little program: a boot protector that sat in the MBR. That's it. It had custom ANSI screens and, as a shareware limitation, showed the password in plain text. He sold like $10K-$15K worth of licenses.

I think I sold maybe one copy of mine, or maybe it was a beta installation... I don't remember. But the big learning lesson was that the program was way too complicated for the shareware BBS distribution market. It would have been perfect for a school or other environment where they needed to maintain a network of computers with common configuration.

answered Nov 24 '09 at 06:47
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Alex Papadimoulis
5,901 points
  • Wow that is very impressive. Also a major learning point so early in life about simplifying our products and offering. – Usman Sheikh 9 years ago

2

Not counting the lemonade stands I used to setup as a pre-teen (on my very untrafficked street, no less...), I started a lawn service when I was 17. That service employed 3 people over the years, and netted me enough to cover all non-tuition expenses at my college. I eventually sold it to my father who retired and wanted something to do and keep him healthy.

answered Nov 24 '09 at 08:42
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Dave Rodenbaugh
306 points

2

When I was 11 I had several "businesses", which included pool cleaning, baby sitting and tennis ball collecting (selling the balls to people that used the local courts). I had "employees" in all of these businesses, and I shared the profits with them.

At 15 I started fixing computers, and at 17 I applied for a patent for a credit card that kids can use (despite the fact the cannot legally sign for deals, since the parents authorized the deals ahead of time). That was a very expensive lesson (for my father) that you need to know your customers before you start spending money on legal issues :)

answered Nov 24 '09 at 09:46
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Ron Ga
2,181 points

1

I remember collecting old newspapers and selling them for recycling at around 10. I was also running a gardening business at the time.

I'm happy to say that at 46 years old, I've always worked for my own businesses and never had a "proper job" ;-)

answered Aug 16 '11 at 02:20
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Steve Jones
206 points

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The earliest recollection of "doing business" was when I was 10. I started to sell pokemon game with emulator included on a floppy disk. Then my parents caught me and scared me into not selling it any further. I continued by writing down the url to download the pokemon rom and emulator and sold this piece of paper for a dollar, and made sure that they read the "Terms of Agreement" I copied from the same URL. I made a dollar and then kids were complaining this was fraud. Then I tried to calmly explain that you need to pay for information you don't have the ability to acquire. Then they threatened to rat on me to the teacher and I knew it was time to shut it down.

I think the first "business" I started was in second year of university, at 21, running my own shopping site where people could purchase php scripts I wrote while being bored in between lectures. I was shocked to sell over 2 grand worth and I think this is what got me to doing what I am doing today at 24.

answered Dec 14 '11 at 09:22
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Kim Jong Woo
644 points

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I started when I was 23 and I'm 26 now. Went from nothing to a 7,000 sq ft studio and about $500k in equipment as a creative agency. Bootstrapped the whole way through. No loans or debt. I took on clients and started raising my rates every time my work got better. I also found very good people to work with.

answered Dec 14 '11 at 20:36
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Victor Cao
1 point

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