Today I just have a really quick post. I was checking my thousands few unread emails when I noticed it.
“From OnStartups.com: 12 Surprising Facts About Entrepreneurs From Research Report”
“Hmm, sounds rather boring to me. Oh well, lets check it anyway.” I thought to myself. I read the report and found it very interesting actually, so you can read it too!
The link to the main post is at OnStartsUps.Com which I recommend reading and commenting on, the comments are VERY interesting to read. You may notice the people over there are much more interactive and comment more *hint* *hint*.
Today I have the great honour of introducing you all to Jason O’Neill, who started his first business (Pencil Bugs) at the ripe age of 9!
I believe Jason is an extremely interesting and inspiring young entrepreneur, certinally one you want to be following!
Firstly, could you please tell us about yourself?
I am a 13-year-old entrepreneur and started my own business, Pencil Bugs, kind of by accident when I was nine years old. I am in 8th grade, go to a private school and live in Temecula, California with my mom and dad.
Not many people start a business at all, yet you started when you were 9! What have you learned since then?
I have learned more than school will ever teach me. The possibilities of things to learn are endless when you are not just reading from a book. The biggest skill I have learned is public speaking. It was really scary in the beginning but now it is kind of fun. They don’t teach that in school. Well, at least not in a business way of public speaking. I’ve also learned about all aspects of running a business. I may not always do the specific tasks every day because I am still in school but I know how to do my own accounting, update my website, fill orders, and many other functions so I could do them if I had time.
How did you come up with the idea of donating to charity and have you had any specific experiences from doing so?
Donating is very important. Ever since I started my business I knew I wanted to help other kids. So I started by donating to a foster home in Temecula.Then last year I began a program with Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California. Each quarter, I use a portion of my sales and buy toys, games, books, and other activities for the kids in the hospital. The thing about donating or volunteering your time is that you don’t have to give a lot. Even the smallest amount or effort can make a difference in someone else’s life.
Who/what is your greatest inspiration in business and life in general?
My parents are my inspiration and drive for the business. They have taught me everything I know and they support me through everything I do. I hope to continue my business and become so successful that I can do more for other people. One of the important people I look up to is Bill Gates. I admire him for all the charitable giving he does.
How would you describe your lifestyle?
I feel I have a very easy lifestyle. I am a pretty regular kid. I go to school, do homework, but my parents don’t over schedule me with a lot of extracurricular things so I get plenty of time to play and be a kid. I guess my business is my extra thing. I am happy with how things are.
Would you say that you are so successful because of your parents and the way they have brought you up? If so, what do you believe is the most important thing they have taught you?
My parents are everything to me and without them I wouldn’t even have a business. The most important thing I learned from them is to never give up. If you do, you will never know what you could have accomplished. But even with all the support, it’s still hard being a kid with a business because we don’t always want to do what’s necessary. I’m just like everyone else. We all have tough times and decisions now and then.
Does being a successful entrepreneur change the way the other people at school treat you? If so, has it resulted in bullying?
Most other kids don’t see the magnitude of what I am doing. I do get bullied as a lot of kids do at sometime but it is not because of my business. A big problem is that some people just don’t see the real value of what I am doing so it means nothing to them. I don’t really talk about my business with other kids unless I’m speaking at another school or event. I think sometimes my classmates feel jealous so I just keep my accomplishments to myself at school.
What does it feel like to be featured on websites such as Forbes and ABC?
It is a real honour to be listed on the big ones. Sometimes even today, I still can’t believe that I have been on Forbes twice. The good thing is, the articles haven’t been about money. When Forbes contacted me about including me on their Top 10 Role Models List, I was so surprised because of the celebrities they also included. It’s more important to me that the media focuses on what I do and my charitable donations than how much I make. Money isn’t everything and I’m certainly not rich by any means but that will come. The big media is really great but I’m just as happy to give interviews for blogs and other websites. I’ve learned that you just never know who might read about you who could make a huge difference in your life or business.
Have you ever had times where you thought yourself or your business as a “failure”? If so how did you stop feeling like it? If not how do you keep yourself so optimistic?
If I said I never felt like a failure, I’d be lying. I think everyone has at least one moment when they question what they’re doing. Thankfully, I have my parents to get me through those times.
Now time for a strange question… on your website it says you play Runescape, this is actually a game that a lot of entrepreneurs I know (including myself) have played, do you believe that by playing the game it has taught you anything that you have been able to use in business?
I think Runescape can teach many good life skills like learning about the economy and pricing. Since it is an online multiplayer game, what one person does effects everyone else. The prices of items are always changing and that’s what makes it so fun. It can teach you valuable life skills without you knowing it and the game itself is really fun. Of course you could just play for the fun of it but I like to analyze new ways of making money so it takes a lot of time but I do have limits on how long I can play video games or be on the computer.
“but I do have limits on how long I can play video games or be on the computer”
What advice would you give to somebody wanting to start their first business?
Get help! No one should do it alone. If someone else has done it before, learn from what they have already done. You don’t need to go through it again. No matter what age you, are help is important. Then when you have gotten experience, you can help the newcomers. It is an endless cycle.
“Get help! No one should do it alone”
Do you believe that entrepreneurship is something that can be taught or that it is in the blood?
If you try something hard enough you can find a way to do anything. I don’t believe I am a natural born entrepreneur. My business happened by accident when I wanted to help my mom with a product she was doing for a craft fair. She told me I had to come up with my own idea to sell so that’s when Pencil Bugs were born. But before that, it’s not like I was thinking, “Hmmm, I should start a business even though I’m only nine.” My start was purely accidental. It’s just that once it started, with the help of my parents, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. But if you ask my mom, she’ll tell you I’ve always been somewhat of an inventor since I was really young. I used to make contraptions and put toys together to see how things would work. So maybe people do have something in them?
“My start was purely accidental.”
What was the best advice you have ever been given?
My parents tell me to never give up since you will never know what might happen if you quit.
If you could go back and change one thing in your past, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a thing. There may be things that I didn’t like about what I had done but if I changed anyone of them I wouldn’t be here now.
How has the internet improved your business? If there was no internet how would your business plan differ from its current form?
Internet is one of the biggest reasons my business is successful. The internet lets age be no boundary. So without the internet, it would have been a lot harder to get exposure and I’m not sure if I would have continued.
Who made your website? Was it somebody you know, yourself or a company?
My mom made my website. She actually has a side business designing websites. I’m lucky she knows how to do that because it saves a ton of money not having to pay an outside company.
What plans do you have the future?
I have many plans but my current project is getting the Pencil Bugs mass produced. We are in the final stages with a manufacturer so hopefully before next year, real production will begin. I also have designs for a Pencil Bug plush toy, board game, video game, and maybe even a cartoon or a movie.
If there was just one thing that you would like people to remember about you, what would it be?
I want people to remember all the good things I did with my money like helping the kids in the hospital. That’s really important to me.
Nope, this is not about saving the world from Global Warming. It is not about getting rid of governments. And it certainly is not about stopping Disney from making supervillians.
This is about Firefox. Well, the people behind it. Between the 14th and the 21st of THIS MONTH (September 2009) Mozilla is hosting their Service Week. Basically it means that normal people (eg. me and you) help other people in the local area. Now do not fret, I could not think of anything to do either… but Mozilla did!
Teach senior citizens how to use the Web.
Show a non-profit how to use social networking to grow its base of supporters.
Help install a wireless network at a school.
Create Web how-to materials for a library’s computer cluster.
Refurbish hardware for a local computer center.
Update a non-profit organization’s website.
Teach the values of the open Web to other public benefit organizations.
That means each of us has 168 hours in a week, though of course very few of them are spare. Which is why it is impressive that currently (9:50pm 7th September) there are currently 8,240 hours donated.
8240 / 168 = 49
That is the equivalent to 49 people spending their whole week, no sleep, to help others. Now that is impressive. Lets double it.
8240 / 7 = 1177
Right, now I know for a fact that we have over 1177 visitors here on Success Circuit (though they do not comment.. grr), so if we all spend 1 hour a day for 7 days then we can make a BIG difference to the WORLD.
So, what do you plan to do? I am going to think about it and let you know very soon.