Teen entrepreneur Jordan Casey of Casey Games outlines his four best pieces of advice for all those young entrepreneurs out there with an idea
Recently I celebrated the fifth anniversary of my first application, Alien Ball vs Humans. I was 12 at the time of its release, and I was nothing but a shy computer geek from Waterford with an idea. The minute that game was released, my life changed forever. Since then I’ve been extremely lucky to establish myself as a young entrepreneur and speaker, sharing my experiences and promoting what young people are capable of when given a platform and necessary support.
Recently I’ve had an opportunity to reflect on how far I’ve come and look at the opportunities, obstacles, advice and people that have helped shape me and my businesses. With that in mind I’ve compiled a list of solid advice for any young person who aspires to be an entrepreneur.
Find a passion
A common debate in the world of business nowadays is the question of whether entrepreneurs are born or made. While I’d probably agree that many important characteristics for an entrepreneur are something you’re born with, I don’t think it’s necessarily the most important thing if you want to run your own business. I think it’s about your passion and having something that you love or motivates you to get out of bed every morning.
For me, it took quite a while to find my passion. From a young age, I always had a business mind-set, but I never really had a channel for it. I remember (unsuccessfully) trying to sell my own toys to my neighbours and trying to provide karate lessons to my friends – without knowing a single thing about karate.
My passion came to me at the age of nine years old when I came across an online blogging community based around the game Club Penguin. Being curious, and wanting to make my own blog, I stumbled across the art of programming. From there, I spent nights reading about it and studying YouTube videos. Ever since then it’s been the one thing that motivated me. I’m happy to say it’s my passion.
One thing I notice among my friends is that a lot of them, even though they’re months from finishing school, have absolutely no idea what they want to do with themselves. Finding a passion early on has been such a massive advantage to me and is vital for any young person who wants to be an entrepreneur. While I can’t help you find your exact passion – I can tell you if you have an interest in something, go for it.
Take advantage of how lucky you are
Something that frustrates me about kids my age is that many of them don’t realise how lucky they are to have all the information in the world at their fingertips.
The internet, for me, is the most important medium out there. I would be nowhere near where I am now without it. Not even close.
I learned how to program completely online. When starting public speaking, I learned everything from YouTube. I learned how to set up my business on the internet. Words cannot express how grateful I am for the internet and how it helped me get to where I am now.
If I wanted to create a game 30 years ago, I would’ve had to build it on a clunky computer, pitch it to a group of publishers in a far-off country, get it made physically and stocked on shelves and maybe sell to a couple of thousand people, if even. If I want to create a game nowadays, I can potentially reach billions of people in the click of a button. This applies to every medium: film, music, journalism, everything!
It frustrates me when people my age feel they can’t be a journalist or a producer without some fancy degree and job when all the information and resources are waiting for them out there – in many cases for free! In Ireland, especially, we have super-fast broadband and with companies like eir innovating in the space, we can get information so much quicker!
So I’ll reiterate it again – take advantage of the internet.
Find a support network
You also need to have the right people around you in order to help motivate you. When I first started programming, my parents had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was a 12-year-old kid always on the computer, so they pushed me to go outside, thinking what I was doing as a bad thing.
When I finally built up the motivation to explain to them exactly what I was doing and why it was important to me, I haven’t looked back. Without my parents and the support network I have around me, I would be nowhere near where I am.
A lot of entrepreneurs these days see themselves doing everything themselves. Well, in my opinion, it’s near impossible to do everything on your own. Having people to help motivate and support you is vital, especially for a teenage entrepreneur. This doesn’t have to be necessarily your parents or your family, it could be your friends, colleagues or mentors, which leads nicely into the final point
My final bit of advice focuses on networking. This is extremely important for any entrepreneur, but in particular a teenage entrepreneur.
When I was starting out I was never confident enough to email somebody myself. I always thought that if someone wants to work with me, they’ll contact me themselves. If I had stuck with this mind-set, I would be nowhere today and that’s a fact.
Entrepreneurs need to be able to have the confidence to contact and heckle people themselves, and not wait for it to arrive on a plate.
Events and conferences are also extremely beneficial in networking terms, and here in Ireland we’re very lucky to have such an extensive list of entrepreneurial events all year round, such as the Dublin Tech Summit. If you want to find someone, find them, it’s as simple as that.
I’m currently working with an on organisation called the Teenage Entrepreneur Movement which aims to provide support and resources for young entrepreneurs. One area we’re focusing on is networking. We’re building a tool called MyTem, which is similar to a LinkedIn but for young entrepreneurs.
Finally, If you’ve ticked all the boxes above and have your idea, all I can say is never give up. There’s always going to be obstacles but it’s how you address those obstacles that shape you and your ambition. As Walt Disney said, “keep moving forward”.