Nicholas Tart Entrepreneur Kid

Nicholas Tart as an Entrepreneurial Kid

by Nicholas Tart on March 18, 2011 · 15 comments

I grew up in a go-to-school, get-a-degree, get-a-job type of family. I remember thinking, “Why are businesses even open during the day when everyone’s at work?”

One day when I was 12 I was lying on my bed and thinking, “Man, we work Monday through Friday and clean the house on Saturday. Sunday is the only day that’s any fun.”

Upon making that realization, I started balling my little eyes out. That’s the day I started looking for ways to make sure that didn’t happen to me.

This is my entrepreneurial journey starting at age six.

The Elementary School Days (6-10)

My entrepreneurial journey started at age six with a lemonade stand. I quickly learned that lemonade stands only work when you have an audience. So I set up shop during my parents’ garage sale.

Lesson 1: Sell things that people already know they want when and where they want them.

The next year, I decided to try my hand at upselling. So I set up the lemonade stand again, but this time I sold slightly more expensive bead animals. I also found that if I bought the beads in larger quantities, I could reduce my costs and increase my profits.

Lesson 2: When you already have customers, offer something else they might want.

Lesson 3: Buy your supplies in bulk to bring down the cost per unit.

Nicholas Tart Elementary EntrepreneurAfter two years of garage sale domination, I decided that I wanted to sell stuff more than just one day out of the year. So I started collecting Ty Beanie Babies and Topps baseball cards. In 1998, my parents got me a baseball card appraising handbook. Some of my cards were valued at $50-$100.

I managed to build up an inventory of 600 Beanie Babies and over 6,500 baseball cards, but I never sold any of either.

Lesson 4: Sell things at the height of their demand.

Lesson 5: Something is only as valuable as someone is willing to pay you for it.

The Middle School Days (11-13)

Nicholas Tart Middle EntrepreneurI started off middle school by moving from Fairport, NY to Longmont, CO. Around that time I started collecting golf balls with my Grandpa because they lived next to a golf course.

During another garage sale, I found that I could clean the golf balls and sell them back to golfers for a quarter apiece or five-for-a-dollar. But I also discovered that I could sell the ones with logos on them to collectors for twice as much.

Lesson 6: Offer discounts for higher volume purchases to persuade people to buy in bulk.

Lesson 7: Different target markets have different perceived values.

Also in middle school, my parents created chore charts for me and my sister. It was their way of making us earn our allowance by getting paid only for the jobs that we did. My chores included taking out the trash ($.25/each time), feeding the cat ($.50/day), cleaning the kitty litter ($1/each time), and mowing the lawn ($10/mowing). When I completed a chore, I marked it off.

Every month or so, those chore charts served as invoices that we took to our parents to get paid. Sometimes they were shocked to find that they owed us $100’s.

Lesson 8: Charge by the job, not by the hour.

Lesson 9: Keep great records of all the work that you’ve done.

One day when I was 12, my mom told me that a lady down the street would pay me $20 to mow her lawn, and she’d pay me every week. That was twice as much as I was getting from my parents, so I took the deal.

The High School Days (14-18)

Nicholas Tart High School EntrepreneurThrough high school, I built my one-lawn gig into a mini mowing empire. At one point or another, I had mowed about half the lawns in our 70-home neighborhood.

With the money I earned from this business I bought my first car outright (‘98 Ford Explorer). And I had a nice little nest egg when I went to college.

But before I went off to school, I had to give up the lawn business. I’ve learned since that I could have sold that business (five-ten steady lawns per week) for an extra $5,000-$8,000. Instead I gave it to a kid down the street. I found out later that he mowed for the rest of the summer and let the business fizzle out.

Lesson 10: Do a good job, be friendly, and your neighborhood business will naturally spread.

Lesson 11: A business with recurring revenue has value and should be sold.

The College Days

My sophomore at Colorado State University I learned that all the business things I had been doing since I was a kid was called, “entrepreneurship.” I had heard that word before but I didn’t know what it meant.

That spring I watched the 2008 Venture Adventure Business Plan Competition. That was the day I realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur for the rest of my life.

Side note: I found out later that Matt Wilson from Under30CEO presented at that competition.

When I was watching a particularly boring presentation, not Matt’s, I decided that I wanted to compete next year. That day I came up with the idea for what later became JuniorBiz.

Lesson 12: Immerse yourself in an entrepreneurial environment if you want to become a successful entrepreneur.

During the latter half of my Sophomore year I started developing the idea for JuniorBiz. I knew that my mission was to teach young people how to start, run, and build businesses. I also knew that the internet was the best way to reach people. But I didn’t have a clue how to build a website.

One Friday afternoon I saw a job posting for a web developer. My uncle taught me a few things about domains and hosting, so I called the guy. After chatting a bit we scheduled the interview for Monday morning. I spent the entire weekend learning everything I could about making a website. When Monday rolled around, I met with the guy and he gave me the job.

That job paid me to learn the skills that I wanted to learn anyway, and I used those skills to build JuniorBiz.com.

After spending a few months writing my business plan, I competed in the 2009 Venture Adventure.

Lesson 13: If a customer asks if you can do something, say “yes, I can do that.” Then learn how to do it.

Nicholas Tart College EntrepreneurOnce JuniorBiz was up and running, I wanted to learn how to become successful. So one night at a networking event I met the publisher of 50 Interviews. I told him I wanted to interview young entrepreneurs and make a book out of it. He thought it was a good idea so he signed me on as an author.

Before I started the interview process, I recruited my best friend from high school, Nick Scheidies, to help me write the book. In July 2010 we published, What it Takes to Make More Money than Your Parents.

Lesson 14: To be successful, you need to model other people who have found success before you.

Today

I’m focused on 14 Clicks.

Michael Dunlop sold Pokémon cards. Keith J. Davis Jr. sold bubble gum. Andrew Fashion sold mechanical pencil rocket launchers.

In the comments below, tell me what you did as an entrepreneurial kid. I’m looking forward to reading about your story.

Post image by: Nicholas Tart

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Aladin September 1, 2011 at 4:00 am

What a nice read! I learned a lot from this article, thank you Nicholas. Thank you for this awesome website and awesome content. One question, do the things you’re saying about young entrepreneurship in this website work for all countries? I mean should I follow precisely everything or should I adapt according to my country? If I don’t adapt maybe it’s a good idea because it may look innovative for them, and in another hand, if I adapt people here would accept the business. For example Lawn Mowing isn’t a known business here, people don’t mow their lawn, maybe if I start they won’t accept… So in the case of this example should I start a Lawn Mowing business or a similar service which is well known here?
Thank you Nicholas.

Reply

Nicholas Tart September 1, 2011 at 9:23 am

Hey Aladin! I’m sure there are differences between most countries and cultures regarding entrepreneurship, but a lot of these principles can be applied to any business in any environment.

To figure out if a lawn mowing service is right for you, ask people with lawns if they’d pay you to mow their lawn. If they will, then you can get all the equipment and officially start the business. The best way to start is to figure out what people in your community are already paying for, and start there. Then you can move into other businesses once you have a steady stream of customers.

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Aladin September 4, 2011 at 4:17 am

Thank you VERY MUCH Nick, you always give me motivation when I need it. Every time I give up and say that I’ll never be an entrepreneur I just head on to your bogs (juniorBiz, 14Clicks) they always recharge in me the feelings of being a real entrepreneur. Please continue the good work. Btw, do you have any other blogs?

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Nicholas Tart September 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Sure thing, Aladin. You know, I get down on myself sometimes too. It’s all part of the journey. What I do to recharge is go to my sites and read comments like yours ;). Nope, these are the only two. I do have http://monumentmarketing.net/ though. Not a blog, but if you read between the lines I think there’s a lot to learn there too.

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Sam King November 17, 2011 at 8:43 am

Hi Nicholas,

Keep seeing your face around online so thought I’d check you out.

Great story above… the bit about selling golf balls made me laugh.

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Nicholas Tart November 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Well, thanks for stopping by, Sam! I’m glad I could make an impression. Do you remember where else you’ve seen me?

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Sam King November 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Guest posts on IncomeDiary.

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Nicholas Tart November 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Ahh… Good to know. I’ll see ya around both sites!

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Daniel November 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I don’t know if I’m an entrepreneurial kid. Thoughts, Nick?

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Nicholas Tart December 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

You definitely are, Daniel. I used to think that you could only call yourself an entrepreneur if you had a successful business. Not anymore. An entrepreneur is part of who we are. Almost like skin color. Based on your curious mind I think it’s safe to say you’re an entrepreneurial kid.

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rohit nagpal May 12, 2012 at 3:27 am

hey nichols.. .,,,first of all thanks for motivation. i am making my own website so can you please tell me how i can become the succesful person, please suggest me what should i do for that,i am fully motivated about that, but i want an start, please suggest me something.i am from india.

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Isaac May 18, 2012 at 8:40 am

Its quite inspiring. But in countries like Uganda, i don’t think they work. Any advice on starting and managing a youth investment group?. Do you think working as a group is beneficial or i should go sole.

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Nicholas Tart June 11, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Hey Isaac, what do you mean by a youth investment group? Investment in what way?

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Clarence Brown July 6, 2012 at 7:36 am

I didn’t have the entrepreneur spirit as early as you did Nick, but when I was in high school I notice a demand in my school for soda and chips, since the school board ruled to take it out. So I would smuggle hot Cheetos and 3 different sodas. I would usually sell out everyday.

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