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Meanwhile, 14-year-old Fraser Doherty was following his grandmother’s recipe for home-made jams in Edinburgh. Word soon spread as friends and neighbours talked about how good the jams were. And Fraser started receiving orders faster than he could make the jams. In the end, he rented time at a factory several days a month. At 16, he decided to leave school in order to work full time. And in early 2007, Waitrose, a high-end supermarket in the UK, approached Fraser, hoping to sell his Superjam products in their stores. Tesco, the country’s largest supermarket, soon followed.
It is many people’s dream to run their own business, be their own boss and do something they are passionate about. For more and more young people, this is becoming a reality before they even leave school.
In the UK, a popular show is The Young Apprentice. Twelve young people aged 16 and 17 from across the country compete in challenges to win a £25,000 prize from the British business magnate Lord Sugar. The prize money goes towards setting up a business. To get on the show, contestants have to prove that they are passionate about business and already have some work experience. Contestants this year included Hayley Forrester, who is studying for her A-levels and lives on a farm. She was inspired by drinks company Innocent to sell free range, organic eggs from her own chickens. Another contestant, Harry Hitchens, has been working since he was nine, with jobs including gardening, selling at car boot sales and magazine delivery.
On the show, the contestants are given different tasks to do in teams, such as inventing a new camping product and pitching it to retailers, icing, decorating and selling cupcakes at department store Selfridges in London, or producing an advert for a new deodorant. At the end of each task, the two teams meet in the boardroom with Lord Sugar and one person from the losing team is fired. It is a spin-off from The Apprentice series, where business men and women compete for a £100,000-a-year job at Lord Sugar’s company.
But of course this is not the path that most teen entrepreneurs take. In reality, getting to the top means a lot of hard work. In the US, Emil Motycka started mowing lawns when he was nine years old. Now in his final year of secondary school, Motycka Enterprises, which offers lawn care, is pulling in over £200,000 – but not without hard work. Emil told the press: ‘Sleep is for the weak. I sleep four hours a night on average.’
So, what tips do teen entrepreneurs have for others who might want to follow in their footsteps? Firstly, that everyone has the ability to become an entrepreneur. And secondly, that you have to find something you enjoy doing and that is in demand. ‘With my business, I like to be outdoors and to work with my hands, which was one of the reasons I chose landscaping,’ says Lucas Rice, 18, who runs a successful landscaping business in Ohio. He also advises pricing wisely. ‘When you’re starting out, go a little lower on price in order to start capturing some customers,’ Lucas says. Finally, the golden rule: seek business; do not wait for it to come to you.
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