The traditional model for entrepreneurial success—go to college, get an MBA, work your way up the company ladder, and then strike out on your own—does not work for everyone. In fact, in an article for Forbes, Ben Walker, CEO of Transcription Outsourcing, notes that many of today’s most successful entrepreneurs did not obtain college degrees. Instead, they did a lot of research and took a lot of risks. Justin Gilmore can relate to this model of entrepreneurship. For him, learning the business through trial and error proved to be the best education.
Justin, the founder of ATMMachines.com, was expelled from high school at 15 years old. By the time he was 16, he had a full-time job and an insatiable desire to develop his business acumen. He read every self-help and entrepreneurial book he could get his hands on. He became fascinated with real estate and bought a course on VHS. Although Justin refers to the real estate tape as “mostly a scam,” he recognized valuable lessons that would help him launch his own business a few years later. These lessons continue to be important for teenagers and young adults who prefer experiential learning over traditional classroom academics.
Get Curious. Stay Curious.
Teens and young adults would do well to search a library or a bookstore for books on the many facets of entrepreneurship, including legal, financial, and structural topics. Read as many books as possible, by as many different authors as possible, to get a well-rounded sense of what it takes to run a business.
And don’t stop at books. As a teen, Justin watched late-night infomercials and bought videotapes of entrepreneurs who illustrated how to turn an idea into a profitable business. These days, an abundance of resources for budding entrepreneurs exists, from YouTube videos to podcasts. Be sure to study a lot of them.
Start Small. Think Big.
Justin Gilmore’s earliest attempts at self-employment would not be long-term gigs, but they brought him one step closer to his ultimate goal of being a successful entrepreneur. As a teenager and young adult, Justin tried out different business strategies, quickly pivoting if necessary, until he found what worked best for him. He found two successful streams of income while shedding unsuccessful pyramid schemes that weren’t as profitable. Along the way, he perfected his business acumen.
His keen sense of curiosity and desire for entrepreneurial success eventually led Justin to discover the ATM business. Using the skills he learned in his teens, Justin turned ATMMachines.com into a moneymaker; by his early 20s, he was earning $10,000 to $15,000 a month.
Keep That Teenage Sense of Curiosity
It has been more than two decades since Justin Gilmore bought his first VHS tape, but he has carried the lessons he learned as a teenager through his career. The life lessons a young person gleans can lead to a lifetime of learning, which in turn can lead to entrepreneurial success.