“Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of rejection; don’t be afraid to ask anything.” This powerful piece of advice comes from a young entrepreneur named Cameron Johnson who made millions from selling greeting cards, his own email service, and much more.
At the age of eight, most boys spend time playing outside or racing their Tonka trucks. But Cameron was not your average third grader. A fan of Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone 2, Cameron wanted to go to New York and stay at the Plaza Hotel like the character from the movie. But even more than just staying in the same hotel, Cameron wanted to actually see the suite where the movie took place at. After getting his parents to agree to stay in New York, Cameron wrote to Donald Trump, telling him that he would be staying in his hotel and nothing would make him happier than to see Macaulay Culkin’s suite. Cameron’s letter went unanswered- until he arrived in New York. What awaited him was an unexpected surprise. It turned out that Donald Trump generously arranged for Cameron and his family to stay in the same suite that Home Alone 2 was filmed in! At that moment, an ecstatic Cameron decided that he wasn’t going to be a famous singer or a professional sportsman when he grew up; he was going to be a successful businessman like his idol, Donald Trump.
Cameron showed signs of being an auspicious entrepreneur at just nine years old. His first project was making and selling greeting cards to family and friends from his home in Virginia. He was making a few hundred dollars a month from his endeavor- an awful lot of money for a kid! By the time he was 11, Johnson had his own greeting cards company called Cheers and Tears. Later on, Cameron offered his younger sister $100 for her beanie baby collection, which were popular at the time. He then proceeded to sell the collection on eBay for $1000. This success led to Cameron’s decision to make bulk purchases from the manufacturer of Ty and re-sell them on eBay, as well as on Cheers and Tears. But Cameron didn’t stop there. At 13 years old, he used the money he earned from selling the beanie babies ($50,000 in less than a year!) to create a new business called My EZ Mail. This service forwards email to a certain account while keeping the recipient’s personal information private. My EZ Mail turned out to be quite promising, earning Cameron $3,000 a month in advertising revenue.
By the time Cameron was 15, business was sky-rocketing. He was an advisory board member for a Tokyo-based company, and he even wrote a book entitled 15-year-old CEO. This young genius was earning $300,000 to $400,000 a month from all his projects combined. Before Cameron had even graduated from high school, his fortune had reached the value of more than $1 million.
Even in college, Cameron set aside time to start up a business. He and his college buddy Nat had a stack of gift cards they had no use for. Cameron came up with the idea of selling them on a website they created called Certificateswap.com. They sold the business in 2004 when Cameron was 19. In 2007, Cameron Johnson wrote a semi-autobiography about his accomplishments and what it takes to become a propitious entrepreneur.
So go out there and start up the business you've always wished for. Try out that dance class that looks intimidating, or sing your heart out on stage for the first time. Whatever your goals may be in life, they are never too difficult or too broad for you to achieve. Like Cameron Johnson, remember to stay motivated and never give up on making your dreams a reality.