It is great to see entrepreneurship taking hold not only across the globe, but across the age spectrum as well. The Startup Magazine recently caught up with teen author Alex Jimenez, 14, of Chicago, USA, a first-time author who launched his new book, “The Big Idea” by Fig Factor Media Publishing.
Although Alex wrote the book to help kids like himself who are interested in the basics of business, marketing, and leadership, his messages have the wisdom of an experienced entrepreneur. This book applies to anyone who wants to know the basics of business and thinks of becoming and entrepreneur.
TSM: Hi Alex. Tell us, what is your book, The Big Idea, about?
I would like to start by saying that the history of business has been around since the dawn of humanity. From the caveman trading, to the industrial and now digital age; you as well as the whole world have been surrounded by business transactions forever! The significance of business and entrepreneurship, with its use worldwide and now even in space, is entrenched in our day-to-day life; however, now more and more people especially teens are interested in it and are hungry to learn further. Unfortunately, the only way they get their information is from their teachings in school, which often time entrepreneurship isn’t available.
Knowing that students aren’t getting all the information they need about the subject of business, I decided to write a book about it. I wanted to explain business in a simple and understandable way for teens, young adults or anyone who wants to know the basics of business and/or to those who think of venturing into becoming entrepreneurs.
In the book, I explain to readers the challenges of creating/building a business as well as the ways you can overcome them and build them up exponentially. I also include marketing, business strategies, the beginning stages of a business, leadership, revenue streams, time management and how to get the better hand over your competition.
TSM: Why should teens learn about business?
Frankly, teenagers should learn about business because no matter what profession they’re in or choose, they need to have some type of financial and business education to have an edge and succeed in life.
TSM: You focus on the importance of embracing change in your book. Why is that important for kids, and entrepreneurs?
The need to change is so important that I even dedicate a whole chapter in my book about this topic. Although I can go on and on about why change is extremely important to anyone, eventually it’s up to individuals to say what is most important to them.
Change is a requirement for those who want to do something else or something new in their life that can seriously improve them. Change is one of the hardest parts in making a new habit and creating a new life, but it’s extremely important since most of us aren’t in the place we want to be. Although it’s hard to admit, changing yourselves is the only way to make a difference in our lives for personal growth.
TSM: What are a couple of lessons have you learned about entrepreneurship that everyone should know?
There’s quite a few lessons and golden nuggets I’ve learned throughout my years of entrepreneurship.
As an example, people need to take action from whatever source they use to learn (seminars, books, conferences, etc.) so their business venture has a higher chance to succeed. This lesson applies for personal, business or work related ventures. For example, if they don’t apply what they have read in my book, the book will be useless if action is not applied. I believe that’s the reason why many people think that if they take a course or read a book about any specific subject they never see it work for them. It’s not because the source doesn’t work but instead, because they don’t apply it in their life.
The second lesson that’s extremely important is to find a mentor in whatever profession they want to be in. Whether it is in business, banking, singing, sports, or anything they’re interested in, they need to have a mentor/teacher to guide them through their lives or careers.
The last and third lesson (golden nugget) that I’ve learned on a daily basis is time management. Time is the most valuable asset we have in our life and without proper management we wouldn’t be able to achieve our goals. Many of us (including me), always complain that we don’t have enough time to do “that special dream” due to our jobs and other daily situations. In reality we DO have time, however it’s that most of us don’t manage our time wisely to allow us to do things that we want to do. In simple words, they need to use their time wisely to see results and understand that time is one of the few things money can’t buy.
TSM: It seems like the lessons in The Big Idea are for adults as well. What kind of reaction have you gotten from adults?
Although it’s dedicated to teenagers, this book applies to anyone who wants to know the basics of business or who wishes of becoming entrepreneurs. I want readers to be excited about learning key business and leadership principles that will serve as personal roadmaps to entrepreneurship.
I’m pleased from the positive reaction of my parents and other adults that have read the book. I’ve also gotten some skepticism from some which is understandable. In many cases certain subjects are hard to comprehend when heard for the first time. Those who are reluctant to change find it difficult to adapt or understand the importance of e-business, social platforms. It becomes a challenge for both parents and teachers to help teenagers who wish to become entrepreneurs.
I’m optimistic nonetheless; those who are open minded will find my book very valuable.
TSM: In the book, you talk about the choice between leaving school to start a business versus staying in school for the full ride through college. What are you thinking about that choice for yourself?
As far as my personal goal (for school and education), I would love the opportunity to attend Harvard University as a top choice because even though I have accumulated a vast experience in business, it will be a complement to my personal goals. I always believe that it’s important for people to develop an outlook perspective of what they want and how to obtain it.
To be fair, it’s not so much “what they teach” that makes me want to go there, but it’s the connections and network of people (including mentors) who I’ll meet while I’m there.
I talk a lot about networking in the book and Harvard is one of the best places/universities to do so. Harvard has a variety of students that are extremely dedicated to almost anything they do (considering Harvard has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the country). That being said, I’ll have a higher chance of meeting people that can perhaps help me grow my business, become a partner or start a new business venture.
Although there are so many successful entrepreneurs who have built incredible businesses without school, you must first have a clear vision, a strong desire to move quickly and a position your idea to be first in the mainstream. School is not for everyone, but it can be added to the plan of long term goals as their educational foundation.
TSM: You are also dedicated to philanthropy and giving back. Tell us about Smiles Against Cancer and its importance to you.
At age nine, I also created my organization Smiles Against Cancer with the goal to bring happiness as a priority in the lives of children who are struggling with cancer. According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer.
During the month of April, we donate toys to children who are receiving cancer treatments at two major Chicago hospitals: Comer Children’s Hospital and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.
I personally sell chocolate bars, do car washes, sell raffle tickets at community festivals, and do speaking engagements to collect donations to raise cancer awareness.
Many people don’t realize that kids who are dealing with cancer need moments of joy and happiness as way to cope. My organization fills those needs with the wonderful donations that we receive. That’s why these are so important so that these kids can find some happiness when they receive a special toy or items to make their lives a little comfortable.
Donations are needed since there are no other ways to get simple wonderful items such as toys and non-necessities into the hands of these children.
That’s essentially what I do and why I make it a priority to put a smile of joy in a kid’s face who’s going through the painful struggles of this deadly disease.
TSM: What does your family think of your writing?
My family and friends are very supportive, whether it is with my nonprofit “Smiles Against Cancer,” speaking engagements, my book or my social media posts.
TSM: What kind of company do you think you’ll have someday? Do you have a “Big Idea” of your own?
I’m very interested in the technology and financial industries, especially nanotechnology and the stock market.
TSM: Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
Yes, you can find all my social media links on my website: www.alexjimenez.biz
TSM: Lastly, tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
I’m an incredibly ambitious teenager who’s into quite a bit of sports and is very active. I’m in love with boxing, although I’ve only been boxing for close to a year now as well as basketball and baseball.
I’m also a black belt in Taekwondo and have participated in several tournaments.
Something that many don’t know about me is that I take pride that I was one of the top 50 kids to be considered “Kid of The Year” from Nickelodeon and Time for Kids’ Magazine nationwide. Considering there were more than 5,000 kids competing to be the first ever Kid of the Year Award, I’m pleased with the outcome.
The whole concept of the “Kid of the Year” is that thousands of kids across the nation share some of their biggest accomplishments to mankind that has helped people around their communities and throughout the country. The winner, Gitanjali Rao, won because of her amazing accomplishment to detect contaminated water in both affordable and simple way. Winners get to be on the front cover of Time Magazine and share their story around the world with the help of Nickelodeon.
On top of that the winner has a chance to become one of Nickelodeon’s kid reporters. I was fortunate enough to reach the top 50 kids due to my involvement with my nonprofit organization Smiles Against Cancer and all the effort throughout the years of me becoming a Boy Scout for practically all my life and striving to become an Eagle Rank Scout, which is the highest rank of The Boy Scouts organization.
In all, I’m just like any other kid. I just choose to make the most out of my life and become an inspiration for others. As a wise Greek philosopher once said, “Aspire, to inspire, before you expire.”
TSM:Alex, that is fantastic. Thank you for your insights and good luck with your many future successes.