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9 Kid CEOs Teach Us One Critical Thing About What It Takes To Be A Successful Entrepreneur

In their own words, these kids teach us about one of the most important things that helped them become successful entrepreneurs and turn their dreams into viable businesses

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BY James Sudakow - 08 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Last year, I wrote a story about 15-year old lacrosse player, Rachel Zietz. As young as she was, she saw opportunity, combined it with her love for lacrosse, and turned it into a million-dollar business. More recently, I wrote about Aaron Golbin, a 13-year old who launched his own entrepreneurial project called Debate Island - an online forum for constructive and ethical debate.

Both kids identified business opportunities and things that mattered to them. Then they worked tirelessly to turn them into realities.

My writing radar is always up for stories about kids doing great things. Maybe it's because I'm a parent of four kids myself. Maybe it's because I'm an entrepreneur and business owner. Maybe it's both.

When I've come across inspiring stories of kids having ideas and enthusiasm for building businesses of their own, and then actually doing it, it is worth writing about not just because of how inspiring it is to see what they can and do accomplish but also because of what we can all learn from them even as adult entrepreneurs.

Meet Jennifer Hobson

Jennifer isn't actually a kid. She's a mom, author, entrepreneur, and business owner, whose passion and business is for helping adults turn ideas into successful businesses.

More recently, she's turned her attention to kids. Her daughter started her own business as an 11-year old, which inspired Jennifer to go find other kids, hear their stories, and help them tell those stories as a resource for both parents and kids who might want to do the same.

She's written a book called KidCEO. What's unique about this book is that it isn't written by a successful entrepreneurial adult about kids. It's a book written by the kid entrepreneurs themselves in their own words about their own businesses. It's about the challenges they faced and what they did to overcome them.

The kids who Jennifer found from across the country range from 10-years old to 20-years old. Some have fully operational businesses, and some are just in start-up mode. Their companies range from businesses focused on skin care to public speaking to photography.

I asked Jennifer if there were any things all of the kids all shared in terms of their experiences and lessons learned. Here is the one thing they all talked about:

Being an entrepreneur requires an unexpected level of discipline

One of the questions that Jennifer pushed the kids on when asking them to write their sections of the book was what they learned from their experiences and mistakes along their journey. All of them talked about the same thing:

They have learned just how important it was to be disciplined around time management and prioritization.

For them, they had to figure out when they were working, when they were doing schoolwork, when they were doing speaking engagements, and when they were just being a kid. All were important, but any of them could easily fall through the cracks without incredible discipline.

For us as adult entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders, the concept of time management may seem obvious, but there's an important lesson here that often doesn't get as much press as other parts of the "so you want to be an entrepreneur" discussion.

Entrepreneurial ventures require discipline, time management, and prioritization in a way that is often under-stated. I was myself surprised at the level of discipline it required. I assumed I had that firmly under control coming off of years in the corporate world and my last leadership roles at a Vice President level in a big companies.

The entrepreneurial venture by nature is amorphous and still being developed, though, when compared to more established companies. The guard rails aren't there already. There often is no structure to work within compared with an established company. We have to create them ourselves, and it is easy to let the amorphous nature of the business at that stage dictate a similar approach to time management - one that is less structured.

Ironically, the kids in this book all acknowledged that without rigorous, heavily structured and disciplined time management and prioritization, they probably would not have gotten there companies off the ground.

It's a good reminder to all of us entrepreneurs.