The 17 Year Old Entrepreneur You Should be Learning From

In March entrepreneur Chris Dessi, spoke for the Westchester County Business Council’s Power Breakfast. After the event, as is often the case, he talked with attendees excited to learn from him. I was doing the same, engaging myself in insightful conversation, when Boris Teodoro introduced himself. We immediately connected, as we were the only two in jeans.

Boris runs Acul Painting LLC which he started two years ago. A man with a vision, we hit it off. Boris told me of his long term plan for the company. He included where his competitive advantage is vs. the large corporate painting companies. I knew he’d already spoken with Chris because he carried a copy of Chris’s book in his hand.

After the event, Boris and I planned a breakfast meeting to see how we might be able to work together. As I prepared to leave that morning, I told Chris where I was going, and he said, “I liked him a lot.  Can’t believe he’s 17.” That threw me for a loop.

Boris carries himself with integrity, in a manner that comes off much older than he is. He has the fierce entrepreneurial focus of a hungry businessman without corporate experience. In the few times we’ve spoken since, I always take something away from him that I wish more of my peers knew.

Here are 3 lessons from a 17-year-old entrepreneur who’s succeeding while many others are failing:

Build Your Self Image:

Most 17-year-olds shudder at the idea of talking to an adult at a dinner party. Boris built his business going door to door in Westchester pitching his services. How does a 17-year-old whose second language is English get up the courage to do that (and make it work)?

“I keep a running list of every compliment I receive. When I am not feeling 100% about myself, I pull the list up and read through them. This helps get my mind where it needs to be”

It’s easy to get in your own head, especially if you are pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone daily. Create a list of compliments you receive. If you start paying attention to it, you’ll notice there are more than you realize. On top of that, it’ll make you more likely to give out compliments, and your self image will grow by making others feel better as well.

Think Less, Act More

Boris grew up wanting to be a business owner.

“When I was 16 I got to the point where I thought to myself, why wait, if I want this I will do it now”

Boris went out, purchased an LLC, and went into business. He’d had experience doing residential and corporate painting with his father and spent a lot of time learning how to market a business. He created a website and a blog. Then he signed up for the local business council because he heard it is a good place to start. We met at his first event.

Boris knew his website and the video he created for marketing weren’t perfect. He doesn’t have the money to be perfect. What he did was get that stuff out of the way so he could get to work. Some entrepreneurs wait so long to have the perfect plan that they never execute it. Boris knows how many clients he needs to turn a profit and that’s his first focus. Building an empire is next.

Education is Ageless

The one thing that didn’t surprise me about Boris is that he is an active reader. Many entrepreneur’s are. It wasn’t always that way.

“I’ve haven’t been in to books my whole life. After ” rich dad, poor dad” though, I was hooked on learning. If books are a way to learn, I’ll read them!”

Sure, Boris’ birth certificate points to 17. His library, however, points to hundreds of years of knowledge. He’s read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” 10 times. Information on how to be successful is all around you. Take the initiative to seek knowledge out and apply what you learn.

Outwork Everyone and Seek Feedback

Two weeks ago an email popped in my inbox marked ‘estimate’. Almost simultaneously I had a text from Boris.

I reached out to some other painting companies and gave them your information for estimates. You don’t actually have to respond. I’ll write up an estimate tomorrow for the same project. Would you mind looking at them and comparing them. Can you let me know what you like better and maybe how it can improve?

Business owners understand the attention to detail it takes to succeed. That attention to detail does not always produce results. Seek feedback from those in your audience. Be open to their response. When you see patterns in feedback, adjust accordingly. Every business can improve. Adapting and improving is critical to long term success.

Boris is at the start of an incredible journey in entrepreneurship. I wouldn’t be surprised if he completely changes the landscape of corporate and residential painting. Always remember, his future empire is being built on hard work, going above and beyond for customers, and always learning / adjusting. We can all build an empire on those principles.

Boris’ Top 3 Book Recommendations:

  1. The Way of the Superior Man” – David Deida
  2. No BS Direct Marketing” – Dan Kennedy
  3. The Fountainhead” – Ayn Rand

My name is John Zanzarella. I’m the CMO of Silverback Social and the CEO of the Westchester Digital Summit. To read more from me connect with me and let’s explore how we can work together. If you like to listen, subscribe to our podcast, Remarkable You, on itunes to hear more from Chris Dessi and I.

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