In an age of accessible technology and innovation, more teenagers began down the path of entrepreneurship. According to research performed by Junior Achievement and Ernst & Young LLP, 6% of teenage boys began their own businesses, compared to the 4% of teenage girls who did the same. Platforms such as Etsy, Patreon and various social media networks opened more opportunities for young business owners to get a head start.
These opportunities have not gone to waste in Atlanta. One of Pace Academy’s budding entrepreneurs, sophomore Daniel Owens, recently started a 3D printing business. By making his printer almost fully autonomous, he prints designs such as Spotify URL codes for long periods at a time.
This is not Daniel’s first experience with entrepreneurship. “I actually tried to start 3 businesses from the course of January through May,” he said. “The first two were merchandise businesses with a print-on-demand backbone to success. I attempted to create an electronics drop-shipping store by buying products through cheap Chinese Distributors. The critical detail that I overstepped is that you need to have inventory to make the customer happy.”
These attempts did not stop him from trying again. “I then looked for a job over the summer. I got a good-paying job at the local Country Store. I did the odd and dirty jobs that everyone avoided. It taught me, hey, I don’t want to work for someone else. I want to be my own boss. I have always wanted to own a 3D printer and ran the numbers for how profitable a 3D printer business could be. I was shocked at how good it was. Here I am, loving what I do and getting paid for it.”
To make time for his business after school, Daniel maintains structure in his daily schedule. He works on his homework during his free periods and after school, giving himself time to immediately start his printing when he arrives home. For the next few hours, Daniel works on his designs before eating dinner and studying. He finishes his day by reading to relax before bed. Still, the production does not stop. “I always have prints going.”
Daniel’s dedication to his work does not go unrewarded, as his products generate a high profit margin. Nonetheless, he manages his expenses responsibly. “I pay roughly $20 for a 1 kg spool of PLA filament from a vendor,” he said. “I buy all my filament off of Amazon and have it within 2 days. I always have enough filament to keep printing throughout the night. I have a PayPal account and I keep a list of expenses. The 3D printer was a lot but I am paying it off fast.”
For Daniel, the future of his business is bright and full of ideas. “I have the keychain line almost finished, and I am trying to design interactive toy vehicles (for example, doors with hinges). I have a lot of work-in-progress designs and a lot of ideas jotted down. I see my business continuing through college. I would love to have a gigantic 3D printing farm. I am hopefully going to have a subscription service to have a steady revenue stream (that is far down the road).”
Some new business owners struggle with the process of actually beginning their work. 67% of surveyed teenagers cited a fear of failure as a motive for not moving forward. This feeling was shared by 65% of the surveyed adults who had the same concern. However, many of the same adults turned a profit with their companies.
“Never be afraid to do something,” said Owens. “The only person holding you back is yourself. You are depriving yourself of fun and failure. Everyone fails. It’s what you do with it that matters.”