Jeremy Miller came into my online network a few weeks ago and immediately started adding value everywhere. I noticed he was sharing great content that was highly relevant to what I write about and to my businesses. He began to retweet me and share my articles. His comments on my posts about social media marketing and entrepreneurialism were at a high-level.
We started to exchange a few direct messages and I discovered that like me, he is the owner of a digital marketing agency. Then, when I asked what his goals were for his business he said something that shocked me, “when I finish high school I’d like to…” I was stunned, he looked young from his profile picture, but I was blown away that he was in high school.
I knew I wanted to learn more about this rising star. I had a chance to catch up with him again yesterday.
White: What’s behind your motivation to become an entrepreneur at such a young age?
Miller: “If not me, who? And if not now, when?”
I look at entrepreneurship as a way to serve people, help people, influence lives for the better, and solve problems for people on a large scale. Living intentionally, giving to the world and not always trying to take from the world, and pursuing a life of helping people has given me purpose. I endured an early life of abuse and depression. I overcame depression when I stopped thinking about myself and begin to think about how I can help other people. Entrepreneurship, done right, is just helping people on a large scale.
“To do something, however small, to make others happier and better is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope that can inspire a human being.”
White: Tell us about your company and other business ventures. What are you up to?
I am building a digital media agency in Indianapolis, Indiana. We are a growth-driven and data-driven digital media agency for a connected world. We help companies and brands market like it’s 2017 and not 2006.
White: What does it truly take to be an entrepreneur at the level you’re at while still in high school? Tell us about your daily hustle!
Miller: The reason why I am able to do what I am doing at my age is because every waking minute I am intentionally living. I define intentional living as recognizing opportunities and acting on those opportunities. I had to develop the correct mindset and be open minded enough to be very intentional in every relationship in my life. I had to discipline myself to actually act and execute on ideas and relationships.
An example of intentional living:
A family member or friend is much older than you and has a lot of experience in business. If you were intentionally living, you would ask them to mentor you and you would really apply their mentorship and wisdom.
I read blog articles and connect with people on social media all day long at school. I post on social media accounts that I manage while I am at school. I manage over 30 social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.Instagram, and LinkedIn.
When I leave school at 3:15, it is “go-time.” I have phone calls, meetings, and work-sessions filling my schedule for the hour after school. My day doesn’t end until late at night.
White: When I was in high school, I had a part-time job at an ice cream store and started at minimum wage. You’ve chosen to become an entrepreneur. What are the benefits of being an entrepreneur for a high school student versus an hourly part-time job?
Miller: When I was 16 and 17, I worked at Chick-Fil-A. I loved the environment at Chick-Fil-A. The people were amazing. The management would be better defined as the leadership because they were great leaders. But after each shift and after spending 6-8 hours making Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, I felt lacking potential, I felt lacking purpose, and I felt out of place. I have such an intense zeal and ambitious passion for life. I wanted more and I wanted to feel more accomplished.
I must clarify that how I felt at Chick-Fil-A was personal to me, my DNA, and the circumstances that I went through at an early life to create the person I am today. I believe it would be a sad thing if someone would consider people working hard at jobs to be any less or more important or special than someone else who might pursue a different path. So many millennial entrepreneurs are so condescending towards people who work jobs or work the “9-5.” Entrepreneurs and people who work at jobs are just different.
To answer your question, a benefit of being an entrepreneur in high school keeps me very focused. It could be easy for me to get distracted with drugs, alcohol, lust, and anything else a high schooler may be tempted with. I had already experienced those things before I found the Lord and pursued a life of helping people.
I am living for so much more. I am not living for the weekend, so a party is not something I look forward to. Being an entrepreneur in high school allows me to always double-think what I am doing and make sure I am doing the right thing.
White: What advice would you give to others that are your age that might want to follow a similar path?
Miller: My mentor, Kenton Yohey, taught me to focus on my strengths. My digital media agency was built out of a failed skateboard-manufacturing business. I would encourage young entrepreneurs to focus on their strengths. I would also encourage a young entrepreneur to focus on being great at three things instead of being good at 10 things. Their potential and ability to execute will crash if they try to do everything.
If you want to pursue entrepreneurship–ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of problems do you want to solve?
- What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children and grandchildren?
- What do you actually want to accomplish in this very short life?
- What are you good at?
- What do you love to do?
Then, after you’ve answered these questions, you must answer the most important one of all. Are you willing to work hard enough to make it happen?
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.