While many entrepreneurs happen to be work at home moms and dads, former corporate slaves or just someone with a driving ambition and the desire to be their own boss, there is also another category of entrepreneur that has had a significant impact on e-commerce. I'm talking about the teenage entrepreneur. You'd be surprised how many websites and online businesses were actually started by or are run by teenagers with a little motivation, free time and willingness to try anything.
20 years ago, before the ubiquitousness of the Internet, it was much harder for a teen to start their own business. They may have been relegated to the typical teen jobs like paper boy or lawn mower. However, with the Internet and the World Wide Web as we now know it, the playing field was leveled and age was no longer such a limiting factor in the world of business. Today, entrepreneurs are limited only by their own skills and imagination.
What can we learn from a teenage entrepreneur that we can apply to our own business? Maybe alot. I talked to Brandon Anderson, who started his own online business in the 9th grade. Today, he runs one of the top sites on the Internet for traffic safety supplies including barricade lights and accessories.
Brandon said he started the company due to the easy availability of his product due to a relative's business connections. Brandon says, "He suggested I try and set up a site to get sales and see what happens. I decided, what the hell, it's not a big investment, so I might as well just try." And so Brandon purchased a domain name, appropriately BrandonSafetyLights.com and set up a simple website that included pictures of the lights and supplies, descriptions and Paypal ordering buttons for each product. To minimize costs, Brandon used Paypal as his merchant services provider. While the site started out slow, traffic steadily grew and so did customers and sales. With outside promotion help including the services of a search engine optimization firm, the site is now ranked very well for the majority of its targeted search terms on the most popular search engines including Google. The site and business has grown steadily and continues to grow with it now attracting a loyal customer following.
The advantages of the business are many. With it being a solely online business, the maintenance of the site is minimal. It basically runs itself. Though there are costs related to hosting, merchant fees and advertising costs, the site is profitable and makes for a tidy income for Brandon, now a freshman at Syracuse University. In addition, the site can basically be run from anywhere.
Being a teenage entrepreneur isn't without its drawbacks though. Brandon says, "Dealing with school and owning a business can be tough at times. Talking about barricade lights to a customer outside a classroom or in a lunch room can be embarrassing. Also, I usually get my calls during class time, so I can't respond right away. I have to wait until after school and can lose sales this way. Or if a customer just needs some info and I can't get that back to them until after the school day, it hurts my relationship with that company. But, I learn to deal with it."
For Brandon and the many other teenage entrepreneurs, the Internet continues to challenge the old school mentality and rules of business, as teenage entrepreneurs have changed the landscape of e-commerce.
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