10-11 years old
We moved. No more golf course. My cushy $500 per year salary goes up in smoke. Back to square one. Luckily, this was just the beginning. As any good child would, I hated cleaning and chores. So like any good entrepreneur, I seized an opportunity to capture a profit. After creating a price list of what I would be willing to do chores for (I know, spoiled brat), I presented them to my mom.
$5 to vacuum, $3 to dust, $1 per clean window. She was not pleased. Other kids wanted to help out with the chores, she said. Where are these kids? I never met any! In my defense, this was not just a scheme to extort my parents. I fully intended to sell my cleaning services to everyone in my neighborhood as my second business.
11-12 years old
The cleaning business was trumped quickly by the fact that cutting grass was a much more appealing line of work. I had a few clients on our street and would put hand-written flyers on doors and mailboxes all around the vicinity. I know what you are thinking, and no I did not charge my parents for cutting our grass.
12-13 years old
I remember the first time I ever heard about e-mail. It was back in the golf course days when we went to visit our neighbor. She showed us her computer, typed a message to a friend over 1,000 miles away and hit send. I remember my mom asking “So when will she get it?”, and my neighbors reaction amazed us. “She already has,” she proclaimed.
My interest in computers only grew. When I was around 12, my uncle donated an old desktop computer that was not functional to my curiosity fund. I disassembled and pretended I knew what I was doing or what I was looking at. I would begin my studies in this field. My parents got our first computer around this time, a Gateway desktop with Windows ME. What could go down as the worst operating system in history. I would take ’98 over ME any day.
13-14 years old
My parents had no interest in electronics, so it was up to me, my 56k dial-up, and my friends to figure out how to build a computer. Studying the different components and needing to reinstall the operating system on my computer accumulated all the knowledge I needed to build one. The average desktop back then was around $1,200 and my parents would not get a new one even though ours was dreadful at this point.
After some market research, a friend and I calculated that we could build our own machine for around $550. I brought this idea to my father (because I only had about $100 to my name at the time) and needed the additional funds. It took a while, but I was able to convince him to fund my project. To this day, I am shocked that he agreed. If I failed, we would be stuck with $550 worth of chunks of circuit board and metal with questionable resale value, if I could find buyer at 13 years old.
15 years old
Being an entrepreneur has its advantages. But one thing many have to do early on is having a steady source of income along-side their project. For me, that was life guarding and working at my uncle’s firework stand. In the meantime, I realized that successfully building a PC qualified me to fix others for quick cash. But the big money came from the disparity between retail and custom prices. I built a $1,200 computer for $550. That leaves $650 for me to split with a consumer in the form of profit and savings. Many people were willing to take a risk on me, and for that I am eternally grateful.