You’ve heard it so much, it’s become cliché: it’s never too early or too late. But you’ve also seen the wreckage: people who jumped in too fast or changed too late to keep things going in the right direction. You’ve watched them crash and burn, and you promised – you outright swore – that would not be you. If you’ve made that promise to yourself, you could always use some inspiration. Here are some examples of young CEOs who made it work.
Cory Nieves opened Cory’s Cookies at the age of six. Yes, you read that right. Six years old. Now twelve, the CEO has been in business literally half his life, and he can’t even legally get his learner’s permit. Ironically, his success story began because of a car … or a lack thereof. Cory hated taking the bus, so he told his mom he would help her raise money to buy a car. He started by selling hot cocoa in his hometown of Englewood New Jersey. One goal down, he expanded into lemonade and cookies to save cash for college. People loved the cookies, so he built a website to sell his special recipe, made with no preservatives and lots of love. Just goes to show, when you have a great product and a great story, people will line up to buy.
Leanna Archer loved her grandmother’s all-natural pomade. Others did too, so the eight-year-old started giving some away in jars. That expanded, and now she sells her all-natural hair product, as well as a line of skin products and shampoos across the world. Leanna’s Essentials has been recognized in Forbes and Success magazines, and the middle schooler is in the process of launching a charitable foundation to build schools and safe places for kids to play and grow in Haiti. Leanna took a great product and introduced to a market she understood very well. This smart business acumen allowed her to achieve high levels of success before even reaching high school. And it’s a simple formula for success in any business.
Jaden Wheeler and Amaya Selmon loved snow cones, so they started making and selling them out of their home in Memphis back in 2011. Word got around, and soon these two young entrepreneurs were having trouble keeping up with business. They asked their mom to help them purchase a food truck. She did, and their product was a big hit. Now in their mid-teens, these two industrious kids are the youngest food truck owners in the entire city of Memphis. They practiced this key business truth: find something people love and give them as much of it as they will pay for.
Neha Gupta turned her family tradition into a major charity work. As a young child her family always returned to India on her birthday to bring food and gifts to orphans in their hometown. Then, at the age of nine, Neha decided she would do something more. She began selling homemade gifts door-to-door in an effort to raise money to send schoolbooks and other educational tools to these orphans, in an effort to help them year-round, not just on her birthday. This door-to-door fundraising grew into Empower Orphans, which has now led nearly 30 different major projects, raising more than $1.6 million for Indian orphans. The lesson here: find something you’re passionate about and connect like-minded people to the cause.